Will Travel, Have Food

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What makes a great airport?

(Besides on-time performance, nonstop destinations, and TSA agents who keep their mitts to themselves?)

Restaurant choices, that’s what. Lots of ‘em. 

Dining at airport restaurants used to be a matter of necessity, a vision of hell brought on by a long layover or delayed flight. But today, it's a whole different story as more and more acclaimed local restaurants are landing at U.S. airports to give travelers a taste of their city’s beloved culinary traditions. In the process, many of these outposts are becoming dining destinations in and of themselves. 

Delays schmelays, here are 8 great airport restaurants we love:

Baltimore (BWI): For many Baltimoreans, Obrycki's means crabs and crab cakes. Period. Located next to Gate B11, this “Balmore” legend has been doing it right since 1944.

Charlotte (CLT): Brookwood Farms BBQ in the Main Terminal Atrium has hungry travelers lining up for Carolina-style barbecue (featuring pulled pork, beef brisket and chicken) that will rock your world. Don't miss the fried pickle garnish.

Chicago (ORD): Rick Bayless, celebrated Mexican food genius, does Chicago proud. Tortas Frontera, located in Terminals 1 + 3, uses the same high-end ingredients found at his downtown sensation Xoco… beef, pork, chorizo, guacamole, etc.… and the result is authentic Mexican griddled sandwich nirvana. 
Los Angeles (LAX): Customers in the know have been lining up at famed Hollywood hot dog shack Pink's Hot Dogs on Melrose and LaBrea since 1939. At the Tom Bradley Intl. Terminal sibling, try the Lord of the "RINGS" Dog (topped with barbecue sauce and onion rings) or the Martha Stewart Dog (topped with relish, onions, bacon, chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream).
Milwaukee (MKE): Nothing says Milwaukee like brats and beer, and Usinger's offers prime examples of both. Founded by a German immigrant, the company has been producing tubed meat sensations since 1880. Get a quick sausage sandwich to go, or pair a brat with a cold one at the bar. Located in Terminal 3
New York (LGA): Tagliare (Terminal D): serves Sicilian and thin-crust pizzas under the eagle eye of Dominick DeMarco, Jr., whose father runs Brooklyn's iconic slice joint Di Fara. One word: Autentico.
Minneapolis (MSP): Holding court in the Lindbergh Terminal mall near Concourse E, Ike's Food and Cocktail is a spinoff of a beloved 1940s vibe restaurant/bar in downtown Minneapolis. The menu is old-school and no-nonsense: steaks, turkey dinner, pot roast, burgers, etc. Not hungry? Grab a seat at the bar, pal, and drink in the ambience.
San Francisco (SFO): In the Intl. Terminal, Burger Joint's offerings include a classic cheeseburger made from Niman Ranch Angus beef and fresh-cut fries. Free-range chicken sandwiches, hormone-free hot dogs, and thick milkshakes made with local Double Rainbow ice cream, make fog-related delays a pleasure.
Seattle (SEA): Ivars' is one of the most celebrated restaurants in Seattle, dishing up chowder and seafood since 1938. Fish and chips, scallops and chips, clam and chips, and chowder are the specialties here, and they use "only wild Alaskan deep water halibut, salmon, and Pacific True cod caught straight from the Katie Ann vessel." The airport offshoot is located in the central terminal area after security.