What else would I eat if I went back? The California roll and four-nigiri combo I picked up at Wakaba Sushi & Noodle, for one. It was about as good as the prepackaged sushi Whole Foods sells at lunchtime, which is to say, perfectly respectable when eaten over the Rockies. And while I had to wait 10 minutes for a cheeseburger ($9.75) from Burger Joint, the only Terminal 2 stand constantly surrounded by ticketholders, the burger I received when my number was called constituted real food by any measure: a fat Niman Ranch patty tinged with grill smoke; a toasted bun for clutching; and stubby, crisp fries.

Perhaps the best thing I ate at the airport was the snapper sandwich ($13.95) at Lark Creek Grill, which was meltingly tender, doused in a shallot-flecked tartar sauce, and pressed into a light, glossy brioche roll. The grill, whose decor is a Twitter-era update of Prairie Style, is one of the terminal's two sit-down restaurants with linen napkins and proper service. En route home from Las Vegas, I spent a pleasant half-hour at Cat Cora, the other full-service stand, recovering from the flight with a pint of Trumer and a couple of lamb chops ($14). Had I eaten the chops at a local restaurant, I might have raised my eyebrows at the price, but after a weekend of casino margaritas and lousy scrambled eggs, the chops, cooked rare and topped with a dab of chunky romesco sauce, were as welcome as a warm washcloth and a shoulder massage.

Photo illustration by Andrew J. Nilsen

Location Info

Map

Andalé

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: San Mateo

The Plant Cafe Oraganic

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Organic

Region: San Mateo

Wakaba

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Japanese

Region: San Mateo

Burger Joint

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Burgers

Region: San Mateo

Lark Creek Grill

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Breakfast

Region: San Mateo

Cat Cora

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Small Plates

Region: San Mateo

Peet's Coffee & Tea

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Coffee Shops

Region: San Mateo

Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Frozen Yogurt

Region: San Mateo

Napa Farms Market

SFO's Terminal 2, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94128

Category: Restaurant > Bakery

Region: San Mateo

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Terminal 2 does represent San Francisco's obsessive restaurant culture better than the other terminals. With 12 food stands and 10 gates, though, it's not clear whether each of the tenants will attract enough volume to survive — especially since it's not possible to pass from Terminals 1 or 3 to Terminal 2 without going through security. If you're stuck at SFO for an extra couple of hours, waiting for your delayed United flight to leave, should you brave a long walk and two luggage scans for a snapper sandwich and a glass of Pinot Grigio? Ask yourself this: Will a greasy breakfast burrito content you all the way to Cleveland?

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3 comments
Sojourner
Sojourner

Back in the day and before check point charlie, SFO was a popular place to go to watch people and planes coming and going while dining or have a drink before or after a flight. How could so many things change in such a short period of time?

yumo
yumo

You forgot to mention Tyler Florence' Rotisserie which has awesome side dishes and Kat Cora's small plates. UH Hello!!!

friedchicken
friedchicken

Do they let you go through security at terminal 2 without a boarding pass for one of the gates within that terminal, probably not. So even if I don't mind the walk or the line, if my flight is delayed at terminal 1 or 3, shitty food is still the only option.

 
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