Fort Lauderdale's Post-9/11 Food Conundrum

It was 6 p.m. the night before a long weekend, and so far my getaway trip was going smoothly. I'd made it through the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport security screening line with half an hour to spare before boarding time. Now, I was starving. But where the hell could I eat?

I was stranded in Terminal 2, the unfortunate outpost for Northwest flights. My options were: burger, hot dog, or greasy sub, a prepackaged, refrigerated turkey sandwich, or a stomach-turning personal pizza, which looked and smelled exactly like the microwaved, congealed-cheese variety they used to serve in my junior high school cafeteria. Each choice was more nauseating than the last. I noticed a few other passengers making the same bewildered circle around the tiny terminal that I was, unable to accept that these were their only options.

In one corner, there was a tantalizing sign for cuban sandwiches and ropa vieja. But alas, the bakery that put out the sign was dark, closed except for a few muffins in a display case. Was this some kind of punishment for flying north during the off-season?

When I got home from my trip, I called Greg Meyer, the public information officer for the airport. He explained that some of the older terminals were built before 9/11, when people actually had time to eat before they went through security. Now that we all arrive two hours early to take off our shoes and be humiliated by a metal wand, the food options near the gates haven't kept pace.

Meyer says there are new restaurants planned, including a Freshens and a full-service Dunkin' Donuts that will sell sandwiches in Terminal 2.  He said Dunkin' Donuts' goal is to open by the time the tourist season starts, and the store will replace the darkened bakery I noticed.

He also noted a few more additions to the airport's cuisine -- a new Chili's kiosk with prepared sandwiches and salads in Terminal 3's JetBlue concourse, and a Pasha's, which serves Mediterranean food, coming to Terminal 1.

Here's hoping the foodie makeover continues.

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