Chopped Chef Maneet Chauhan Shares Her All-Time Favorite Airport Food

Airport food: most often a prepackaged dinner quickly plucked from a nearby convenience store or fast food joint just as the final boarding call is announced for your flight. Honoring culinary preferences just isn't always a reality when navigating the chaos of airport terminals, even at those with the absolute best food. With little knowledge of what dining options to expect (especially in unfamiliar airports) breakfast, lunch, and dinner are usually a last resort option in between gates. On the other hand, food is meant to be indulged in, not quickly wolfed down in a hurried and frantic state. With a curious spirit and a little flexibility, navigating the world of airport food doesn't have to mimic the typical unorganized and hectic process we endure while traveling.

Maneet Chauhan, a judge for the Food Network's iconic show "Chopped," knows airport food all too well. The constant travel that comes with her job has allowed her to cultivate a list of airport food favorites to share with her viewers and anyone else searching for a decent meal while trying to survive a long layover. "I try to sample something local at every airport," Chauhan told Matador Network, revealing that her favorite airport eateries are DeSano Pizza Bakery, Tortas Frontera, and Golidlocks Filipino Cuisine (which has since become Mama Go's Filipino Cuisine). She added, "It makes me actually look forward to traveling knowing I have these local favorites to enjoy while waiting for my next flight."

Italian, Mexican, Filipino — take your pick!

You can never go wrong with Italian fare, and Maneet Chauhan said one of her personal favorites is DeSano Pizza Bakery. With multiple locations in Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles, and beyond, this authentic Neapolitan pizzeria is the real deal! The chain also happens to have outposts in Charleston International Airport and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Calzones, signature pie creations, and traditional Italian desserts, such as cannolis, make this pizza station a true one-of-a-kind find. 

Tortas Frontera is another top pick by the "Chopped" chef, and an O'Hare specialty. Founded by Rick Bayless, Tortas Frontera puts a playful spin on the flavors of Mexico with hand-crafted tortas, fresh guacamole, and signature margaritas. The added freshness of quality ingredients might just make you forget you're not sipping cocktails in Cancún or Cabo.

A third and final favorite of Chauhan's, Mama Go's Filipino Cuisine (formerly Goldilocks Filipino Cuisine) at San Francisco International Airport, is a strong proponent of high-quality food prepared within minutes without compromising on flavor. Gluten-free and plant-based desserts, bubble teas, and craft cocktails are all made to order in an on-the-go fashion. It's not just Chauhan who recognizes Mama Go's top-quality ingredients. This Asian fusion eatery has also been named as some of the best airport food by the readers of Food & Wine. Make sure to try the eatery's breakfast bowls, veggie stir-fry, and Siaopao the next time you find yourself with a few extra minutes at SFO.