10 of the best things to eat at the MSP airport

With a flurry of local restaurants and even a Food Truck Alley added in the past two years, it’s no wonder that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport won Best Airport for Dining in our 2019 Readers’ Choice awards.

So, skip the short connections and enjoy a few hours in this gem of an airport.  Here are 10 of our favorite places to spend a layover (and what to try at each):

Korean BBQ taco at Lolo American Kitchen

Lolo, short for “Locally Owned Locally Operated,” originated in the historic river town of Stillwater north of St. Paul and brings a lineup of tasty, creative tacos to the airport’s Concourse E. The tender Korean BBQ hangar steak comes with a lemongrass aioli, napa slaw and pickled cucumber. Order it with thin-cut smoked sea salt and rosemary fries and an FBI John, a bourbon cocktail with homemade root beer.

Lobster roll at Smack Shack

You have to try the lobster roll at Smack ShackYou have to try the lobster roll at Smack Shack — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

You can almost imagine a beach when snacking on Smack Shack’s tender lobster salad with cucumber and tarragon, served on thick slabs of griddled milk bread in the airport’s central mall. Launched as a food truck, this seafood joint became a brick-and-mortar hot spot in Minneapolis’s trendy North Loop in 2010.

They also serve a Connecticut style lobster roll with melted butter, lemon and chive on a roll. And there’s a lobster Hollandaise scrambled egg sandwich for early risers.

Glazed donut at Angel Food Bakery

Tempting creations at Angel FoodTempting creations at Angel Food — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

Whether it’s a Saturday Morning Cartoons donut slathered with rainbow-colored cereal or Turkish Delight with hints of rosewater and a dusting of pistachios, Angel Food Bakery and Donut Bar offers delectable and surprising twists on morning pastries.

As an upstairs companion to downtown Minneapolis’s irreverent and popular Hell’s Kitchen restaurant, it brings some of its heavenly elegance to the airport with white chandeliers and playful attitude on Concourse E. Grab a cupcake or scone for home.

Arabic chicken schwarma at Holy Land

Find yummy eats, like these kebobs, at Holy LandFind yummy eats, like these kebobs, at Holy Land — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

Tucked into Concourse E’s Food Truck Alley, this streamlined rendition of Holy Land – Minneapolis’s prime destination for Arabic, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food – serves up plates with spiced chicken schwarma and rice, gyro meat, kebabs. You’ll also find several meatless options including vegetable samosa, falafel, stuffed grape leaves and hummus with pita bread – all Halal-certified.

Holy Land’s original deli, bakery and grocery store has been a landmark in north Minneapolis since the mid-1980s.

Meatball pizza at Black Sheep

Black Sheep owner pulls a delicious pizza from the ovenBlack Sheep owner pulls a delicious pizza from the oven — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

This beloved Twin Cities chain of pizzerias brought in one of its signature coal-fired ovens for baking its blistered and sturdy crisp-crust pizzas in the airport’s main mall. Order its meatball pizza with tender bites of ricotta and fragrant garlic. Other popular choices include the fennel sausage, hot salami, onion and zippy green olives or thin-sliced oyster mushrooms over mozzarella with rosemary and garlic.

Daily special at Salty Tart

You won't regret grabbing something from the Salty TartYou won’t regret grabbing something from the Salty Tart — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

James Beard-nominated chef Michelle Gayer brings together her serious pastry skills and savory flavors to Salty Tart’s bright-blue food truck location on Concourse E. Try a tart or quiche of the day, which blend flaky crusts with ingredients such as caramelized onions, ham, brie or goat cheese.

If you have more of a sweet tooth, look for berry tarts, fruit-filled galettes and melt-in-your-mouth chocolate croissants. Salty Tart began in 2008 at Midtown Global Market and expanded to the airport in 2017.

Hi-Top at Hi-Lo Diner

Decadent Hi-Top from Hi-LoDecadent Hi-Top from Hi-Lo — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

Hi-Lo Diner lovingly restored an authentic East Coast diner for its original Minneapolis location in 2016 and brings its nostalgia-on-a-plate to MSP in late March. The menu includes classic pancakes and hash, burgers and meatloaf, but it stands out for its Hi-Tops. This is basically a fried square doughnut piled with a variety of sweet or savory options from buttermilk fried chicken or pulled pork to apples and caramel or the Velvet Elvis – a heap of bananas, peanut butter, bacon and honey.

Blucy Lucy at Blue Door

Tantalizing Totchos from Blue DoorTantalizing Totchos from Blue Door — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

The Twin Cities are where Juicy Lucys – burgers stuffed with molten cheese – were born, and local chain Blue Door Pub puts its own twist on it with the Blucy Lucy: burgers that ooze tangy bleu cheese with garlic and a pickle. For something hot-dishy on the side, try Nacho Totchos (tater tots smothered in a queso and crema) and a Bent Paddle beer at the Concourse A location.

Beer flight at Stone Arch

A beer flight at Stone Arch will liven up your layoverA beer flight at Stone Arch will liven up your layover — Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Airports Commission

Travelers can sample beers from around Minnesota at Stone Arch, along with five rotating exclusive beers developed by the Minnesota Brewers’ Guild on the mall near Concourse F. If lagers and IPAs spike a hunger, order chewy-gooey fried cheese curds with homemade ketchup or Spam fritters, a homage to Minnesota’s playfully mocked canned meat.

Walleye sandwich at Mill City

If you don’t have time to hit up a lake and toss in a line, order a sandwich featuring Minnesota’s official state fish: walleye. Lenny Russo, another frequently nominated James Beard chef and proprietor of St. Paul’s Heartland Restaurant, helped develop the menu at Mill City, found on Concourse G.

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