There are few things more depressing at the end of a great vacation than eating your last "on holiday" meal from a greasy paper sack while sitting in an airport waiting lounge.
Technically, you're still living the good life on vacation until the moment you arrive at home. So why not indulge in one last good meal? We've chosen seven restaurants at international airports or adjoining hotels that are worth the splurge -- and the trek from other terminals. All of them provide not only amazing meals but also a sane respite from the hustle and bustle of a large international airport.
As noted below, many of these restaurants are beyond security checkpoints, which means only ticketed passengers can dine there.
Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar, Schiphol Amsterdam Airport
Where: Departure Lounge No. 1 (post-security)
Why: Often touted as one of the best airport bars in the world, Bubbles also serves some mighty tasty and surprisingly fresh seafood. Fat, succulent oysters on the half shell and traditional Dutch raw herring served with pickles and onions are two popular noshes; full-sized meals are available, too.
As the sleek restaurant's name implies, a wide selection of bubbly -- Champagne, that is, plus dozens of other wines -- is served at the bar. The showpiece of the space is a gargantuan saltwater aquarium filled with exotic fish. Try to nab a seat with a view of the tank, for the utmost in pre-flight distraction.
But the true surprise? A casino right there in the restaurant. Just don't miss your flight because you were playing too much roulette.
Globe@YVR, Vancouver International Airport
Where: Lobby level of the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel directly above the U.S. departures terminal (pre-security)
Why: Airport hotel restaurants tend to be as sterile as the airports themselves, but Globe@YVR is different. The restaurant specializes in Pacific Northwest cuisine, using locally harvested, seasonal ingredients: chowder made of British Columbia seafood, duck raised in Fraser Valley in the southwest section of the province and Pacific salmon served several ways. The wine list also goes local, showcasing selections from British Columbia's famed Okanagan Valley along the U.S. border.
And then there's the view: floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a mountain range in the background and the airport runways in front.
The restaurant is easy to find, as the hotel's lobby is connected to the airport by a walkway.
Plane Food, Heathrow Airport, London
Where: Terminal 5 (post-security)
Why: The first airport eatery from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is an airy, architect-designed restaurant with large picture windows providing live-action runway views. The bar overlooking the open kitchen is a much better place to hold out for your flight than the waiting area near your gate.
The menu is eclectic. Salads, pasta, risotto, steaks and a variety of fish dishes abound. If you're pressed for time, order a selection off the "picnic" menu for 12.95 GBP (about $21.62 USD) -- pick from four different starters, entrees and desserts. You'll be the in-flight envy of your seatmates when you finish with the cheesecake tart with berries .
Don't be surprised to see the gratuity plus a per-person cover charge on your bill. Reservations are recommended.
One Flew South, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Where: Concourse E, within the main retail area (post-security)
Why: The first fine-dining restaurant in Atlanta's busy airport is a godsend for those with interminable delays and the need to de-stress after waiting in security lines. Wall-to-wall photo murals depicting a Georgia forest, coupled with pine floors and ceilings, give a restaurant a laid-back, Zen-like atmosphere.
The menu, which melds Southern cuisine with Asian offerings, may seem odd at first -- chef Duane Nutter and company call it "Southernational." You could have a pulled-duck sandwich or thyme-rubbed pork belly while your travel companion chows down on a dragon roll (broiled eel, cucumber and shiso leaf) or sashimi. Top the meal off with a signature cocktail or sake.
Imperial Treasure, Changi Airport, Singapore
Where: In the Crowne Plaza hotel connected to the airport (pre-security)
Why: Connected to the airport's Terminal 3, the Crowne Plaza is hard to miss, with its gleaming, silvery, latticed exterior. There are a few eateries and lounges in the hotel, including a sleekly designed restaurant called Azur. But we recommend the airport location of a small chain called Imperial Treasure for its fresh fish, roast goose, and overall reputable and extensive Cantonese menu.
Though it is inside a Western-style hotel, the subdued restaurant is quintessentially Chinese, with large round tables and waiters in traditional dress. The tables can accommodate large parties -- perfect for sharing deep-fried prawns smothered in a wasabi sauce or passing along a bowl of salted fish fried rice.
Lemonade, Los Angeles International Airport
Where: Terminal 5, Departures Level Food Court (post-security)
Why: Don't let its cafeteria-style vibe fool you, Lemonade consistently gets high ratings on websites like Yelp and Urbandspoon for its healthy, but gourmet salads, sandwiches, soups and more.
Bon Bibimbap, Incheon International Airport, Korea
Where: Terminal 1F, Near Exit 12(post-security)
Why: What better way to prep for a long international flight than with a comforting bowl of bibimbap, a warm Korean dish that mixes rice with mixed vegetables and seafood, beef or chickent? Incheon Bibimbap serves up an assortment of bibimbaps, but beware they can be quite spicy.
What's your favorite airport restaurant? Share it in the comments below!
--written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma