But if you’re among the 3.1 million travelers taking to the sky this holiday, you might be grounded in the East Coast’s busiest airports, thanks to a deadly storm that’s alreadytorn through several Southern states.
Before you fall into despair, know that just because you’re stuck at the airport doesn’t mean you’ll be forced to feast on Cinnabons for Thanksgiving. Some airports these days are downright fancy, and restaurateurs have capitalized on travelers weary of overpriced and inedible fare.
So if you’re lucky enough to be delayed in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, or Charlotte, N.C., know that your options for a great Thanksgiving meal reach further than a slice at Sbarro. The Daily Beast has rounded up the best these airport eateries have to offer.
La Vie (JFK)
The Salad Niçoise and Onion Soup Gratinée from Terminal 5’s cozy French Bistro will make you reconsider turkey as the national holiday dish. Plus, it’s operated by chefs from New York staples Balthazar and Pastis.
Shake Shack (JFK)
These are not just hamburgers. Danny Meyer’s deservedly hyped fast food outpost has won fans all over New York with its tangy Shack Sauce and (crinkle cut!) fries. Bonus: You won’t have to wait in the down-the-block lines like you do in the city.
Another win for Terminal 5, Piquillo serves tapas, which is great for a whole group of strandeds who’d rather be at the family table. Pass the potatoes brava.
Deep Blue (JFK)
Just the words “airport” and “sushi” together are enough to instill fear in the seasoned flier. But Buddakan’s Michael Schulson is behind a menu that is as fresh as it is inventive. The service can be slow, but hey, you’ve got nowhere to go.
Taste of Prime Tavern (LGA)
An old fashioned New York steakhouse lies in LaGuardia’s Delta terminal. You really should get a steak, but if it’s got to be turkey, they have a good club sandwich.
Grand Central Oyster Bar (EWR)
It’s not the Grand Central original, but the iconic rainbow sign will show you the way to one of the few airport restaurants where it’s a good idea to order oysters.
Matsutake Sushi (IAD and DCA)
While the sushi itself is solid—fresh and expertly prepared—this place is also known for its warm service. And it might just make you a little less homesick.
Vino Volo (IAD)
It serves small plates like cheese, charcuterie, and sandwiches, but most come here for the impressive wine selection. And those who get lonely during the holidays might want to note: Vino Volo was named the second-best U.S. airport bar to meet someone by the dating site MeetAtTheAirport.com.
Five Guys (DCA)
Virginia’s answer to the burger craze serves some of the best in the country, and the airport location does not disappoint. Plus, here you can even grab breakfast.
Legal Sea Foods (PHL)
The seafood here is incredibly fresh and the lobster roll is a standout. For Thanksgiving, Legal is serving a traditional feast: turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, butternut squash, and cranberry sauce. They’re also known for one of the most extensive gluten-free menus around.
Tony Luke’s (PHL)
If you’re stuck in Philly, might as well do as the locals do and grab a cheesesteak from this local favorite turned airport eatery.
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