Best Food at JFK Terminal 5
Airport food has a reputation—inedible, overpriced, and taking full advantage of the fact that customers are literally trapped behind a layer of guards and metal detectors. But when JetBlue revived and expanded the once-shuttered Terminal 5 at JFK, the airline decided it didn’t have to be that way.
JetBlue brought in OTG Management, who in turn brought in chefs and restaurants from far beyond the usual fast-food suspects. When the terminal re-opened in 2008, the mix of restaurants and retail was hailed as something genuinely new in air travel. Layovers and delays still happen, especially with New York’s packed airports and wild weather, but these days they pass a little more quickly.
People dining at AeroNuova are usually still struggling to process that they’re eating at an airport. The food is rustic, hearty, and simple, with well-made pastas and thin-crust pizzas predominating. AeroNuova is the brainchild of Mark Ladner, the executive chef of Del Posto on Manhattan’s West Side, which is apparently a pretty good restaurant.
Perhaps the clearest sign of how far we’ve come: tapas in an airport is now a reality. Its creator, Alexandra Raij, is also the chef behind Chelsea’s Basque restaurant Txikito, El Quinto Pino, and Moorish-Jewish inflected La Vara.
The dim cavern-like, or perhaps tunnel-like, space offers all the dishes you’d expect: ceviche, anchovies, olives, shrimp, deviled eggs, chorizo, and the ever-beloved pairing of jamón and queso. Being tapas, the dishes are small accompaniments to a glass of wine and not a hefty, put-you-to-sleep-for-the-flight meal, but they keep hunger at bay.
A small, sweet, Parisian-style café that goes some way to helping you forget your surroundings. The food and drink helps keep body and soul together, with strong coffee and sandwiches, including baguettes, croque monsieurs and madames (mesdames?), as well as more substantial fare such as steaks and salmon. Service can be a little on the slower side when it gets busy.
Deep Blue Sushi
Blue in décor as well as in name, Deep Blue can be a little divisive: a subtle and finicky dish like sushi can often attract intense criticism. But the place earned some reluctant love from obsessive blogger The Sushi Legend, who praised the fresh fish and room temperature rice—and after 38 sushi restaurant reviews, that has to count for something. Deep Blue also serves ramen, although that gets less acclaim from visitors.
Bonus Snack: Baked by Melissa
A staple of New York City, with 11 locations in the city and one in Jersey, Baked by Melissa offers bite-sized cupcakes in flavors like red velvet and cookies and cream. These tiny cupcakes have a big mission: to take the guilt out of sweet treats. They also offer a new outlet for cuteness aggression.
If you’re heading to JFK’s Terminal 5 and you need a ride, get in touch with us.