5 Must-Try Airport Eats

By James Norton

Ike's Food & Cocktail, MSP AirportAirport dining has evolved, and we're all better for it. While there are still plenty of spots to grab quickly prepared, mass-market fast food, restaurants that emphasize creative use of high-quality (and often local) ingredients are starting to take over the concourses at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

A recent overhaul of Concourse G in Terminal 1 has brought in a whirlwind of internationally inspired dining, but other spots of note are scattered throughout the airport, as well, including the formerly sparse Terminal 2.

If you're flying through MSP, bring an appetite—you've got options, and they're delicious.

Burger and Chocolate Shake at Ike's Food & Cocktail

Terminal 1, MSP Airport Mall

Few things trump a classic burger-and-shake combo for pure comfort, and Ike's Food and Cocktail may serve up the best rendition of this power combo. Burgers at Ike's are carefully cooked to order and come with charming little plastic cows proclaiming their doneness. The toasted buns are soft, buttery and seriously good.

Ike's shakes are made with Sebastian Joe's ice cream, which is regularly on or at the top of lists rounding up the best local dairy treats. The shop makes a product that's rich and naturally full-flavored. The shake also comes with the classic metal cup, a must for a serious fountain shake experience. If you've got a bit of time to kick back and unwind at the airport, a stop at Ike's is a guaranteed way to relax.

Surdky's at MSP AirportFicelle at Surdyk's Flights

Terminal 1, MSP Airport Mall

The word "ficelle" literally means "string" in French, and that's an evocative way to describe this incredible, lean mini-sandwich that’s packed with flavor. Surdyk's chewy bread contains butter, arugula, ham and cheese, and this dish manages to be more than a snack and less than a full meal. Its slender profile makes it perfect to pack into a carry-on bag (or even a coat pocket) to enjoy later on, even while airborne—perhaps accompanied by a glass or two of wine.

Surdyk's sells bottles that you can bring with you on a flight, some of which even feature disposable glassware so that you needn't bother the flight attendant.

Bison Tartare at Taste of Mill City Tavern

Terminal 1, Concourse G

If you want an epic taste of the Midwest, the local-food focused fine dining spot Taste of Mill City Tavern has a number of intriguing options for you to pursue, including an excellent steelhead trout gravlax. The rich, bold bison tartare is an adept spin on a classic Continental dish. It’s been reinvented with a meat that conjures up the best that the Upper Midwest and Great Plains have to offer. The sit-down dining experience at the restaurant is one of the most complete in the airport, perfect for a long layover or unexpected delay.

Sonora-Style Hot Dog at Cocina Del Barrio

Barrio at MSP AirportTerminal 2

You may or may not connect the all-American hot dog with south-of-the-border eating, but the Sonora-style hot dog at Cocina Del Barrio in Terminal 2 makes a strong case for this North-South mash-up. The dog comes wrapped in bacon and dressed with pico de allo, chipotle, mustard and cotija cheese, making a tart/hot/rich/satisfying dish that serves as a sweet getaway for travelers passing through this part of the airport.

If you like what you taste, you can dine at Barrios elsewhere in the Twin Cities: The restaurant has locations in downtown St. Paul, Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, and Edina.

Wisconsin Trout Almandine at Mimosa

Terminal 1, Concourse G

That there is a raw bar and brasserie at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport should be cause for satisfaction; that its dishes tend to range from good to delicious is cause for celebration. Mimosa's competent oyster service defies expectations for an airport eatery, and its French brasserie-inspired food provides equal measures of elegance and comfort. Mimosa's Wisconsin trout almandine is a dish that's equal parts sophisticated and connected to local cuisine, and its delicate flavor and careful preparation make it a great choice for a light but indulgent lunch.

Find more dining options throughout Minnesota in our Drink & Eat section.