Gatwick airport is a favourite of budget-conscious travellers flying to and from London — while points against include distance from central London and that awful “this is your captain speaking” Easyjet recording on the inter-terminal shuttle train, the lure of affordable flights to the continent (and beyond, particularly since Emirates decided to scrap first class on all flights between LGW and DXB, yielding hundreds more available economy seats per day) and the Americas is irresistible to many. It does, unfortunately, suffer from the same affliction that plagues so many British transport hubs — a dearth of places worth eating.
And as the government’s ... Strategy ... for travel expands to include green-listed countries for tourism and finally seeing family, and amber-listed countries for ... Something ... it’s worth knowing where to get something good.
Pret a Manger
It’s maroon, it’s full of predictable sandwiches, it’s got coffee — an airport is not an office but a Pret a Manger is always a Pret a Manger.
[North Terminal, after security, 06:00—17:00]
It’s blue, it’s full of predictable Italian sandwiches, it’s got coffee — an airport is not an office but a Caffè Nero is always a Caffè Nero.
[South Terminal, before security, 07:00—13:00]
Shake Shack CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
A game-changer for Gatwick, and a game-changer for Shake Shack in the U.K. The North Terminal is now home to Danny Meyer’s legendary stateside burger juggernaut, and is the first of its U.K. restaurants to offer breakfast, so diners no longer have to fly transatlantic for it, but they do ... Have to fly. Eggs, bacon, and cheese on a griddled potato roll is a pretty fortifying meal at any hour, but goes to 10:30a.m.; the rest of the time, stick with the classic burger.
[North Terminal, after security, 0430—2130]
Grain Store CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Bruno Loubet may have closed his Granary Square flagship, choosing to flee the UK in pursuit of sunnier climes Down Under, but his Grain Store satellite at Gatwick lives on. It’s really the pick of the bunch for eating here — menus are, as is largely the rule, a pretty standard breakfasts/burgers/salads formula, but there’s a good mix of the vegetable-forward dishes Loubet is known for thrown in, and a healthy appreciation for quality produce all served up in a warm, sympathetically-designed space that does well to soften its harsh airport environs.
[South Terminal, after security, 0400—2100]
The Jamie Juggernaut CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
It’s not often Eater finds cause to recommend to readers that they seek out a Jamie Oliver restaurant, but really — there are more Jamie’s outlets at Gatwick than you can shake a neck pillow at. While 12 of the celebrity chef’s restaurants across the country have closed this year, Gatwick remains a stronghold, and is host to a Jamie’s Italian, Jamie’s Diner, Jamie’s Coffee Lounge, Jamie’s Bakery, and the Union Jack Bar. It’s a lot of Jamie, but it does have the benefit of covering the full spectrum of traveller’s sustenance needs. From the classic “rustic” pastas of Jamie’s Italian to the on-trend BBQ ribs, burgers and fried chicken of Jamie’s Diner and quick grab ’n’ go by-the-slice pizzas at the Bakery, there really is something for everyone and, to be honest, it’s all pretty good. Quick service, tasty food, a big name on the door? It sure beats an inflight egg mayo.
[Jamie’s Diner — South Terminal, after security, 0400—2100; Jamie’s Italian, Union Jacks Bar, and Jamie’s Bakery — North Terminal, after security, all 0400—2100; Jamie’s Coffee Lounge — North Terminal, before security, 24 hours]
Wondertree CLOSED UNTIL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
“Two speed dining” at this family-friendly restaurant from the group behind the Giraffe chain means a self-serve “cafe” of grab ‘n’ go options and a more “relaxed” sit-down restaurant with space for 200 covers. Dishes like tofu and butternut ramen or a kimchi chicken burger certainly tick the boxes for en vogue dining, as does the offer of filter coffee hand-brewed by way of V60 filter, and there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options too.
[South Terminal, after security, 0400—2100]
Wagamama CLOSED UNTIL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
It felt controversial to include Wagamama in the Heathrow list; but at Gatwick it’s a real gem. Choice is still generally pretty slim at the West Sussex airport, and what variety there is in outlets is largely dulled by pretty homogenous offerings. So, again, the Japanese-inspired dishes, packed with flavour and at the table within 15 minutes of ordering, are in many ways the perfect airport choice.
[South Terminal, after security, 0300-2200; North Terminal, after security, 0500—2100]
Yo! CLOSED UNTIL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
Another offering to go largely uncelebrated in the outside world, Yo!’s kaiten model is ideal for a time-pressured bite in transit. All the same caveats apply as in a regular YO! outlet — it’s decent, but not great quality, and the plate prices add up quickly, but hey, what is a holiday even for if not overspending on average quality anglicised versions of delicious foreign foods?
[North Terminal, after security, 0600—2100]
The Nicholas Culpeper CLOSED UNTIL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE
The Nicholas Culpeper lays claim to a couple of questionable USPs. The first — it’s apparently the “world’s first airport gin distillery” which, true or not, doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot. The second, its chefs “believe ‘fresh is best’, so they make all our dishes from scratch using raw ingredients” — international travellers would be forgiven for thinking that’s actually just a pre-requisite for being a “restaurant”, rather than a marketing point, but to be fair, the resultant menu is a pretty good spread of classic British gastropub favourites. The Nicholas Culpeper does have one key selling point, though: it’s one of only two places in Gatwick to get a meal before security — the other, its South Terminal counterpart, is a Wetherspoons.
[North Terminal, before security, 24 hours]