After years of anticipation, the rollout of the new Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles International Airport is a travelers treat, even in its first phase. Phase I, which debuted in September 2013, adds dining, retail and nine new gate areas, while Phase II (slated for completion in 2015) will tack on nine more gate areas and new security and customs areas.
With 32 new shops, including Bulgari and Hugo Boss, and 31 additional dining options that include beloved local foodie haunts Border Grill, Larder at Tavern, Chaya and Vanilla Bake Shop (as well as L.A.’s first Starbucks Evenings), options abound on the new dining deck and throughout the South Concourse. Malls purveyor Westfield Property Group curated the retail experience to mimic a Rodeo Drive feel. From Zen retreat XpresSpa and a Bliss retail store to a new connection to Terminal 4 (part of Phase II), TBIT will continue to unveil the biggest public works project in L.A. history through 2015. Here are some must-hits when you have some time to kill before your next international flight.
With an already established cult following, Umami Burger debuts a new outpost in the departure terminal. Umami LAX offers a quick bite of something born uniquely in Los Angeles. At the sleek, modern counter surrounded by chalkboard menus, kick off a morning trip with a Fly Away burger packed with scrambled eggs, a turkey sausage patty and house favorite cheesy tots; grab the famous truffle burger made with Umami’s signature premium beef, roasted garlic aioli, house truffle cheese and truffle glaze for lunch; or the healthy LAX veggie burger with citrus-herb goat cheese spread for a lighter late-night snack.
For those who want to sample Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker Michael Voltaggio’s mastery, Ink.sack on the departure level serves up inventive, small-portioned sandwiches in chic, black paper bags from a rustic counter luring you in with pops of bold orange. Variety being the spice of life, we suggest ordering two of the boldly flavored bites, such as the “José Andrés,” aka “the Spanish Godfather,” layering spicy serrano peppers with chorizo and manchego cheese, as well as the banh mi, which combines succulent textures of pork butt, pork belly, chicharrónes, pickled vegetables and a sweet onion spread. Don’t forget a flavorful side of housemade Maryland crab chips.
From the sign bearing the signature blue and red Fred Segal logo on a backdrop of digital foliage to the airy, bright white 2,200 square feet of retail therapy inside, this legendary L.A. lifestyle shop is a showstopper. SoCal’s original trendsetter boasts something for everyone and a plethora of last-minute indulgences, including cool T-shirts, books, cameras, artworks, indie magazines and beauty supplies. The amped-up gift shop also sells the best of local talents — fold-over clutches and totes by Clare Vivier, bath and body products by Baxter of California, delicate diamond and gold necklaces by Sydney Evan, J Brand denim and comfy sweats for the flight by Cotton Citizen.
The perfect place to zone out before the flight, Drink.LA brings in the focused, upscale bar experience that Tom Bradley has sorely needed for years. Located post-security in the Villaraigosa Pavilion, the sexy, sleek all-white and stainless-steel bar under dark wood slatted ceilings is a bright spot on the Mezzanine Lounge level where its neighbors include Lucky Fish by Sushi Roku. Highlights on the menu of expertly crafted cocktails include originals such as the Salary Man (a blend of Dewar’s 12-year-old Special Reserve Blended Scotch Whisky, ginjo sake, sour and raspberry-cilantro mash) and classics such as the Moscow Mule.
For a bit of pre-flight luxury, take a seat under shiny, copper globe lights at Petrossian’s just-opened champagne and caviar bar. With more than 20 vodkas and top-shelf champagnes on offer, Petrossian keeps a staff of informed servers who can guide you to just-right pairings with its world-famous caviars, delicious smoked fish and charcuterie. The boutique eatery/bar also stocks gifts such as candles and packaged caviar. If this sounds like too much pomp and circumstance in your rush to catch the plane, grab a “caviar picnic” to go, complete with an insulated carry-on pouch. From tasty blini to frothy crème fraîche, you won’t regret your mile-high meal.
Photo Courtesy of Petrossian