Top pre-flight dining options at these 5 Canadian airports

A guide to airport restaurant dining

Samosas at Globe@YVR. Photo by Stephanie Arsenault.
Samosas at Globe@YVR. Photo by Stephanie Arsenault.

It’s peak travel season again and eating between destinations can be difficult. Between lackluster airplane food (if you are lucky to get any at all), and time zone changes that leave you wondering whether you should be hungry or not, it can be a challenge to try to figure out what your next meal is going to be, and where. To avoid those inevitably disappointing travel meals that just leave you feeling hangry, we’ve put together this list of reliable options to check out, regardless of where in the country your flights take you. Bon appetit and bon voyage!

Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)

Given that Toronto Pearson is Canada’s largest airport, it’s not surprising that it also has the most extensive selection of dining options. Several celebrity chefs have restaurant outposts, both inside and outside of the terminals. There’s Boccone Trattoria by Massimo Capra, which offers rustic Italian fare; LEE Kitchen by the renowned Susur Lee with its Asian and French influences; The Hearth by celebrity chef Lynn Crawford, which emphasizes local products; and the globally-inspired Twist by Roger Mooking, which is the best place to wake up your taste buds between flights. You can even indulge in a classic deli meal at one of Toronto's favourite, Caplansky’s Deli. Bagel and lox while waiting for my flight? Don’t mind if I do.


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Montreal-Trudeau Airport (YUL)

Unfortunately, Montreal is a little slow on the uptake when it comes to fancy airport dining, especially for a city with such a vibrant dining culture, but you can still get your hands on some classic, local favourites while waiting to board at YUL. Chow down on world famous Montreal smoked meat at Lester’s Deli Express. Or, there’s always St-Hubert and its beloved chicken. Be sure to grab a coffee from Brulerie St. Denis while you are at it. It roasts its own beans daily, ensuring extra potency to keep you awake during your entire flight, unless you’re looking to get some rest.

Calgary International Airport (YYC)

YYC is currently lacking in its dining options, but that is soon to change with the new international terminal that is in the works. The expansion will include new locations for well-known Calgary restaurants like Hana Sushi, Green Chili, Spolumbo’s, and most notably, Vin Room. Owner Phoebe Fung says that they will offer 80 wines by the glass, which by her count, will make it the most extensive airport wine selection offering in the world. It will soon add extra incentive to make a connection via Calgary on your next trip.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Considering that it’s the second busiest airport in Canada behind YYZ, you would expect YVR to have more to offer in the dining department than it actually does. It has the standard fast food chains, but there really isn’t much in the way of specialty restaurant options. The Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is really your best bet if you’re looking for a sit-down meal (or cocktail) before your flight. Pull up for a pint of Fairmont Honey Lager at the Jetside Bar, or sit down for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert at the Globe@YVR, where it serves award-winning cuisine that showcases flavours from around the world, using fresh ingredients (with a big focus on the Ocean Wise program). Both are located inside the airport itself making it accessible for all travellers.


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Ottawa International Airport (YOW)

Thanks to a couple of recent restaurant additions in the post-security area at Ottawa’s airport, Starbucks no longer has to be the go-to for those passing through. PZA, as the name suggests, offers pizza, meatballs and salads; while Tulip Bar and Wine Lounge offers bevvies and small plates. There’s also The Local, which has both a grab-and-go option, as well as a café and bar. When you’re travelling, it’s always nice to have options.