Twenty-five minutes before boarding I was just nearing my gate at Miami International Airport. This was the first time I had ventured near the single-digit gates of American Airlines Terminal D and I was hungry.
After being told at the express window of a Mexican restaurant that tacos would take 20 minutes, I thought I'd have to settle for one of those dry, refrigerated airport sandwiches. Then I realized that Icebox Express was open just a few steps further.
"The feedback has been amazing," said Robert Siegmann, owner of Icebox Café and Icebox Express. "People want healthy food options and they feel that for the first time they have that option at the airport. They've also reacted very well to the design of the place so it's been a wonderful experience."
The place is indeed good looking. A 40-seat dining room has modern, orange seating and metallic hanging lights. It also boasts a wrap-around refrigerated display with pre-packaged foods including sandwiches, salads, charcuterie plates and slices of the restaurant's famous cakes for travelers on the go.
For those not in a rush, a blackboard menu has hot options like curried chicken breast with cilantro rice, meatloaf and adobo pulled pork ($11 each). A-la-carte breakfast items include guava-and-cheese-stuffed French toast ($7), a jumbo waffle with mandarin oranges and bacon ($7), and a breakfast sandwich ($5) with scrambled eggs, asparagus and cheese. Now tell me that's not a refreshing change from La Carreta's airport breakfast buffet. To expedite things, travelers will soon be able to pre-order and pay for their food online and pick it up in lunch boxes at the airport.
My grilled cheese sandwich ($7) -- camembert and apples in between slices of raisin-walnut bread -- took about 5 minutes, leaving me plenty of time to enjoy it on site and make it to my gate nearby. Next time I'm around gate D8 and hungry, I'll be stopping at Icebox. And if I'm further away, I can always take the Sky Train.
Icebox Express is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Starting next week, it will open at 5 a.m.