Tuesday, October 29, 2019

New Orleans's new airport terminal will be a flying foodie's paradise

New Orleans's Louis Armstrong International Airport is about to open a new passenger terminal to replace its dingy and decrepit existing one, and it only makes sense that the new facility will feature some of the Crescent City's best culinary offerings for hungry travelers.
The $1 billion terminal was designed by the late Argentine architect César Pelli and will replace the original terminal, which was constructed in 1959.  
The 972,000-square-foot structure features a long list of upgrades, including free high-speed internet; chargers at half of the seats in the gate areas; water bottle refilling stations; parents’ rooms; and music venues both pre- and post-security. 
But the upgrade we’re most excited about is the food. There will be 40 retail stores throughout the terminal, including some standout dining venues. Sure, the standard airport fare like Auntie Anne’s, Chili’s, and Panda Express are in the mix, but there are some notable culinary highlights that will likely have us heading to the airport a little early the next time we’re flying out of New Orleans.
One of the centerpiece venues will be Leah’s Kitchen, an homage to the late, self-taught Creole chef Leah Chase, who died earlier this year at age 96. The New York Times reported that Chase’s grandson, Edgar Chase IV, will operate the restaurant, which will serve classic Creole cuisine. 
Chase’s storied restaurant Dooky Chase’s, located in the city’s Tremé neighborhood, has an outpost in the airport’s old terminal, but that will shut down when the old terminal does on November 6. At Leah’s Kitchen, diners will be able to indulge in Leah’s famed fried chicken and gumbo to the backdrop of a large mural depicting her image.
Another star player will be Folse Market from Louisiana native chef John Folse, who has become a global ambassador for Cajun cuisine. Together with New York chef Rick Tromato, Folse is at the helm of the upscale Restaurant R’evolution in New Orleans’s French Quarter. The forthcoming Folse Market at the new terminal will serve seafood, po’boys, charcuterie, coffee and wine; it will also sell merchandise.
Showy chef Emeril Lagasse will have a presence at the new terminal, as will Carrollton landmark Ye Olde College InnCafé du Monde will have an airport outpost to cater to your beignet needs, and Angelo Brocato will be serving its famous Italian gelatos and desserts. Locally-based chains such as PJ's Coffee and Smoothie King will naturally be represented as well.

Mixed in with familiar New Orleans establishments will be some newer offerings:
One of the newcomers we’re most excited about is the highly acclaimed New Orleans venue MoPho from chef Michael Gulotta, which marries southern favorites like shrimp and grits with Vietnamese standards, including, of course, pho soup. MoPho’s interpretation of Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches offers fillings such as “Nola hot sausage,” fried shrimp, and fried oyster with more traditional banh mi fixings.
But what if you just want a drink while you're waiting for your flight? The new MSY has you covered there, as well:
And of course, no trip to or from New Orleans would be complete without a proper cocktail. Bar Sazerac will be serving them up in a sophisticated, speakeasy-style setting. And for one last hit of live music as only New Orleans can deliver, at Heritage School of Music you can get a drink while musicians play on stage.
The new 35-gate airport terminal is the largest infrastructure project that the City of New Orleans has undertaken since building the Superdome. It was originally scheduled to open last May, but due to construction delays will now open November 6th. It is located on the north side of the airport property (the old terminal is located on the south side); more information about the facility, including how to access it, can be found here.

I was looking forward to checking it out in an upcoming trip to because it was designed by one of my favorite architects. Now I'm looking forward to grabbing a bite to eat there, as well!

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