The Counter (San Diego Airport)

While generally I’m a fan of air travel, one of the less fortunate aspects of the experience is that most food in airports, well, sucks. Oh, there are the exceptions (like my recent review of Sora in Detroit, or Legal Sea Food in Boston, or even the Milltowne Grille at my own Manchester airport, but generally you need to be setting your expectations rather low. So when I find a place that, well, doesn’t suck, I try to write it up for my readers. In this case, it was getting breakfast at The Counter at San Diego airport that actually started the day off on a good note.

Breakfast is the particularly depressing end of the spectrum of airport food, in that most of the places that actually serve breakfast at most airports aren’t really breakfast joints, but bars and burger joints that dabble in breakfast just because, well, the airport wanted them to, or they thought they could make a little more profit selling to people at airport prices. And in some respects, The Counter falls into this category, since they are actually a burger joint (in fact, a California chain with dozens of locations through the state), that generally features custom built burgers where you walk through the serving line customizing your burger. But during breakfast hours, they instead offer up breakfast sandwiches.

And this is where they shine, because they don’t just phone it in. They treat the breakfast sandwiches just as seriously as they treat their burgers, with the same approach. You start by selecting either scrambled eggs or scrambled eggs and cheese… and then they cooks in the kitchen scramble your eggs to order. So while all the other places are giving you overcooked eggs from a steam table, here some is making them in the kitchen, and doing quite a good job on it. Meanwhile, you take your croissant or bun, and work your way through the line building the rest of your sandwich, with a rather good selection of toppings: fresh spinach, onions, roasted red peppers, fresh tomatoes, and fresh jalapenos. Follow up with a choice of sauces (various mayos, aiolis, and sauces), and then optionally add in some sausage or bacon, and you’re done.

And the result is, while slightly messy, a great breakfast sandwich. I opted for bacon and eggs with cheese on a croissant with spinach, jalapenos, and roasted peppers, with some garlic aioli, and the result was a very pleasant and enjoyable breakfast sandwich that was filling enough to propel me all the way to Baltimore.

So, there, another place that’s actually serving up good food at an airport. I was pleased, and I hope to be able to go back and try their burgers as well.

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