Lonely Planet Writer

Find out which airports have the best food

Whether you’re trying to kill time between lengthy flight connections or have a phobia of airplane food, having the option to treat yourself to a decent meal at an airport before or after a flight can make all the difference when it comes to travel. And while most airports around the world have the same familiar fast food chains, in recent years, some destinations have made special efforts to offer delicious local dishes that will be sure to please hungry passengers. Now, thanks to RewardExpert, who recently released their 2018 International Airport Dining Scorecard based on thousands of reviews and menus, the best airports in the world for food have been revealed. Take a look below to see the sumptuous selection.

1. Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan

Tonkatsu, a deep friend pork cutlet, is one of Japan's most celebrated dishes.
Tonkatsu, a deep friend pork cutlet, is one of Japan’s most celebrated dishes. Image by Randy R.A. Gibbs

It’s no surprise that Tokyo managed to scoop the number one position in a ranking of food. Famously having more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, its culture surrounding great food is well documented. When it comes to airport offerings, Narita has a number of high quality options at low prices, with restaurants offering yakitori, fresh sushi, udon noodles and tonkatsu, a mouth-watering fried pork cutlet covered in panko breadcrumbs

2. Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei, Taiwan

Bubble tea, made with small, chewy tapioca balls that are sucked up through a straw.
Bubble tea, made with small, chewy tapioca balls that are sucked up through a straw. Image by Max Wei / CC BY 2.0

According to the survey’s results, Taoyuan International offers the second-lowest prices and second-highest rated food for airports around the world. One of the most popular choices for travellers is Chun Shui Tang, a brand with claims to the origin of bubble tea, a famous drink served with chewy tapioca pearls inside it.

3. Hong Kong International Airport

Sweet and Sour Pork.
Sweet and Sour Pork. Image by Alpha / CC BY 2.0

The third-busiest international airport in the world, Hong Kong International is a bustling hive of activity at all times, with many people to cater for. According to the survey, all of the food options proved a hit with visitors. Offering dishes from all over the world, Hong Kong specialities such as sweet and sour pork proved to be the most popular.

4. Changi Airport, Singapore

Steamed shrimp dumplings.
Steamed shrimp dumplings. Image by See-ming Lee

Asia’s airports dominated the ranking, taking the top four slots for best food. Singapore’s Changi Airport scored 4% higher than average in the overall ranking, being home to lots culinary options, with its range of Cantonese dishes proving particularly popular.

5. Amsterdam Airport Schipol

Salmon and tuna sashimi from Bowery in Amsterdam Schipol Airport.
Salmon and tuna sashimi from Bowery in Amsterdam Schipol Airport. Image by Bowery

With a solid range of restaurants, from cheap eats to fine dining, Schipol ranked amongst the top half of nearly every category in the index. A popular choice is Bowery Restaurant, which prepares Asian and grill specialities across three open plan kitchens.

6. Gatwick Airport in England

Gatwick's top rated restaurant was Comptoir Libanais.
Gatwick’s top rated restaurant was Comptoir Libanais. Image by Angelafoto

While it may not hold the same brand recognition as Heathrow Airport, London’s Gatwick boasted a higher overall cuisine ranking than its counterpart. Offering different types of cuisine, one popular choice proved to be Comptoir Libanais, which specialises in Lebanese mezzes.

7. Kingsford-Smith Airport in Sydney, Australia

Sydney's Kingsford-Smith Airport scored major points for it's wide variety of dishes, including burgers and modern Australian.
Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport scored major points for the wide variety of food on offer, including burgers and modern Australian dishes. Image by Mark Hughes / EyeEm

Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith Airport racked up serious points for its wide variety of offerings, which includes Thai, Mexican and modern Australian, while the ever-popular Chur Burger gained an honourable mention. The results showed that the airport has some work to do in terms of affordability, but the quality of the food on offer secured its place in the top ten.

8.  Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain

Pincho (Spanish; literally, thorn or spike) or pintxo (Basque) name of certain snacks typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain and especially popular in Basque country.
Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport proved it can deliver delicious tapas. Image by flydime

While this airport doesn’t have as diverse a range of cuisines, what it does, it does incredibly well. Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport scored big points for its delectable collection of Spanish foods and tapas, with the top-rated restaurant being Vinea.

9. Munich Airport, Germany

Customers at Munich Airport enjoy big beers and Bavarian food.
Customers at Munich Airport enjoy big beers and Bavarian food. Image by Anton Eine / EyeEm

Despite scoring high for its quality food offerings, expensive menus all around brought down Munich Airport’s rankings in the list. Airbrau, which was chosen as the top-rated restaurant is among the most well-renowned of any airport in the ranking.

10. Heathrow Airport in London, England

Gordon Ramsay Plane Food porridge.
Gordon Ramsay Plane Food porridge. Image by Kent Wang / CC BY 2.0

More than 75 million hungry travellers have passed through Heathrow’s gates, making it the second-most travelled international airport. It’s the third highest-rated airport in terms of cuisine quality, and is home to restaurants from chefs like Gordon Ramsey. It’s also the most expensive airport to eat at by a large margin, making its overall ranking rather low.