If you’re going to be stuck in a JFK terminal for hours, you could do a lot worse that Terminal 5, home to JetBlue: Our hometown budget airline has long prided itself on its food offerings here, a line-up of quick service and grab-and-go spots from New York City chefs that includes a sushi bar, a Dylan’s Candy Bar outlet, and the first tapas restaurant in a U.S. airport. We had a pair of flights out of T5 in the past few months, which gave us some opportunity to sample a scattering of the offerings. Here’s where we’ll eat — and where we’ll avoid — next time we’re getting ready to board.
If you’ve got time to kill — and during the summertime, chances are good that you will, thanks to inevitable delays for thunderstorms and air traffic control — your best bet is Aeronuova. Created by Mark Ladner, it offers a slate of thin crust pizzas and nicely made pastas. Our favorite is the carbonara, which is littered with bacon and dredged in parmesan and egg. Start with a fennel salad, which gets you citrus wedges amid thin shavings of the anise-flavored stalk. It’s way better than airport food should be. And not a bad wine list, either, by the way.
Piquillo is a good back-up plan; the cave-like eatery offers a slew of small plates paired to a board of Spanish wines. Be forewarned, though — you can rack up a bill quickly here; small plates often lead to higher check averages in the real world, and that’s even more true in airport price land.
La Vie turns out decent French fare — including a worthy croque monsieur — and it’s also a good place to stop for a pre-flight coffee if you’d like to sit and sip your espresso at an actual table.
Skip Deep Blue, that sushi bar. Cuts of fish are fat and generous, but the fish is of middling quality, and it’s inexpertly sliced. And the salad here is absolutely awful — it’s coated in a candy sweet vinaigrette that tastes like what you’d get at a fast food chain. Edamame is predictably fine. Given that it’s priced for an airport, though, you’d be better off dropping that cash at one of the other restaurants — and having a few extra drinks.
If you’re in a rush, we’re not going to judge you if you stop into Ben & Jerry’s, Baked by Melissa, or Dylan’s Candy Bar for a pre-flight sugar high. Presumably, you’re going on vacation (or perhaps you’re traveling for business, in which case you deserve a treat). If you need real food, though, ignore what we just said about Deep Blue and head to Deep Blue on the Fly. The calculus changes for us when we’re talking take-out sushi. A few rolls are a great way to start your flight.
Otherwise, head to the food court for quick pizza, Mexican, and Asian. If you’re really in a rush, though, avoid Boar’s Head — between the line and the check-out, you can bank on waiting at least 10 minutes.