Eat Airport Food ~ Here

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Posted 26 Apr 2010 in Quick Service

When passing through an airport with pangs of hunger in my gut, nothing attracts me more than a thoughtfully designed independent quick service restaurant (IQSR’s). This doesn’t mean that I have something against the big airport foodservice operators like Delaware North (Travel Hospitality Services) and Anton, I simply prefer to eat at places owned by local operators. Their passion, creative and quirks make me think. A couple weeks ago I had two hunger and schedule driven experiences with IQSR’s that are worth sharing. The first was at Dazbog Coffee at Denver International Airport and the second was at a cool little place called Flo’s Shanghai Café at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor Airport.

Dazbog "God of Good Fortune"

Running through Denver airport while starving, with no time to spare, I had the good fortune of finding a relatively new Dazbog Coffee outlet in Terminal C. Dazbog was created in Denver by two Russian entrepreneurs and offers a refined set of coffee beverages and smoothies for the discerning customer. On their website they state “the Yuffa family fled Russia to embark on a new and better life of freedom, democracy and opportunity.” I noticed their first store in Denver on 17th street back in 2005. The reason I love Dazbog (other than that freedom and democracy stuff I just mentioned), is the hip Russian Theme the place offers, the quality of thinking behind the concept and the quality of the coffees and smoothies they offer (try the Forbidden Fruit!). Prices are right, the coffee is excellent and the overall feel of the airport outlet is bright and friendly rather than generic and corporate like so many other small foodservice outlets I encounter on the road. Dazbog, according to the guys that run this place, is an old Russian mythological figure who is the “giver of good fortune.” Not a bad restaurant name for a new venture, huh? These guys seem to have found good fortune in the U.S.

Flo's Entrace

Flo’s Shanghai Café is the coolest IQST at Sky Harbor Airport…period. I came up to the third floor in terminal four after getting my ticket and the escalator popped me out right in front of Flo’s. Looking at the place, it was immediately obvious that it was different than most QSR’s. Flo’s has a large arched entryway that looks like a huge upside down horseshoe with large orange Chinese tea lanterns hanging from the ceiling and a long green counter where orders are placed. It has a wide open floor plan that was way to spread out to generate the revenue per square foot that one of the large corporations would require. This made Flo’s look marvelously inviting and comfortable and drew me in for a bite.

Love the Lanterns

Checking out the details I noticed that there’s a real working kitchen in the back where entrees are made fresh and to order. Staff members are friendly and the food is simple, fresh and tasty. I had a grilled chicken with peanuts over steamed white rice. Although served in a Styrofoam bowl, the dish was fantastic otherwise (compared to most airport food). Flo’s is owned by a Phoenix operator with several other restaurants in the local market. Well thought out, with a local rather than corporate feel, I dig Flo’s and will stop there again the next time I am at Sky Harbor.


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