Whenever someone starts talking about the "good ol' days" of air travel, remind them about eating at old school airports.
Time was, a meal at the airport meant horsing down a candy bar from the gift shop and wrestling with a vending machine for a can of soda.
Nowadays, large, medium and even some smaller airports provide legitimately good restaurants, with enough interesting offerings and atmosphere to make that three-hour layover just a little less hellish.
There's still room for culinary upgrades -- as noted below, some airports haven't yet figured out that sitting on planes makes us hungry and irritable -- but the best places to eat in the country's busiest airports (ranked by passenger traffic, per FAA statistics) generally range from good to great.
20. Honolulu International (HNL)
What Hawaii offers in fun and sun, its marquee airport lacks in decent food options.
Your best bet: Eat before you hit the road.
If you must eat at HNL, opt for a sit-down meal at Stinger Ray's; it's the only place with a restaurant-like feel to it. Hard to go wrong with the nachos or pulled pork sandwich.
19. Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA)
Anthony's Restaurant started as a single seafood joint in 1969. Now the company consists of 22 locations and a private fleet of fishermen.
Each location -- yes, even the one in the Central Terminal -- serves seasonal Pacific seafood and shellfish from the Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. The mountain blackberry cobbler is an addictive Cinnabon alternative.
18. Fort Lauderdale International (FLL)
The Food Network finally cooked up the most obvious way to cash in on its success: It opened a restaurant.
Fans can stop by Food Network Kitchen in Terminal 3 and choose Florida-inspired dishes from the grab-and-go menu (Caesar salad with key lime dressing) or the made-to-order menu (including a club sandwich with, you guessed it, key lime mayo).
Of course, the TVs play the likes of Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay all day long.
17. Orlando International (MCO)
Orlando airport seems to be unaware of the current revival in airport restaurants. Nonchain options are limited.
You can try your luck with a latte at ZaZa's Cuban Coffee or the sliders at Johnny Rivers' Grill and Market. But you might be just as happy going with what you know at Qdoba, Burger King or Outback.
16. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County (DTW)
The venerable kid staple gets a makeover at PB&J near Gate A1. The menu offers preset gourmet peanut butter and jelly combos, as well as an option to customize your own.
"The Exceptional is the most popular sandwich," says Fares Saah, one of the airport's food court managers. It comes loaded with peanut butter, honey and bacon on cinnamon swirl bread. "People are always surprised by the combination, but there have been no complaints."
15. Minneapolis-St. Paul International (MSP)
At upscale noodle and sushi shop Shoyu, you use an anchored-down iPad to order your meal.
Once you've picked your food, you can continue to play with the iPad or you can watch the chefs make Japanese noodles in the open kitchen. Pork belly pot stickers, Thai lettuce wraps, sushi and noodle bowls are all on the menu.
14. Newark Liberty International (EWR)