Airports get a bad rap. Sure, there’s the waiting and the people and the security guards who look a little too frickin cheerful to be watching for terrorists, and the dreadful food and the waiting and the cramped quarters and the waiting and the incessant fear that your plane’s going to be one that’s abruptly diverted off course and into a landmark U.S. building … .

Yeah, there’s all that. But I still wanna bring back the Jet-Set Age, when the local international airport wasn’t a cleverly disguised torture chamber but a swingin’ hang-out, baby, and I’m starting by making weekly visits to M Lounge at D/FW Airport’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. The M (even the name has a cool James Bond ring to it) is the closest thing we have to a Pan Am Clipper Club (circa 1959), and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let it go un-Last Call’d.

Naturally, while the swank remains sort of the same, the details have changed. Gone are the cigarettes, pantyhose, and polyester; and “April in Paris,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” and “Girl From Ipanema”; and, for dinner, pork chops, apple sauce, and string beans. In their place: fresh breath, bare legs, and Lycra; and J.T., The White Stripes, and Beyoncé; and, next door at the Grand Met, food that can’t be found in a tv dinner.


Also, instead of Manhattans and ice-cream sandwiches, it’s pineapple- and strawberry-infused vodkas and caramelized banana crepes with coconut gelato.

The best part: A driver is provided. Well, kinda. The Trinity Railway Express makes frequent runs from downtown to the airport area and back for about a buck. The train doesn’t stop at the terminal but at a station close enough for a two-minute shuttle ride.

Last train home is at 9 p.m. Hopefully, though, you’ll play your cards right and have to get a room for the night – baby!

Italy, Next Door

After a night of terrorizing not infidels but the martini shaker (zing!), a little sustenance is called for. Here’s a recommendation, one that’s not too far from the TRE station downtown: Taverna Risotteria and Pizzeria. From 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, the restaurant/bar serves up $2 drafts (everything from Moretti to Paulaner and Guinness), house wine for $3 a glass, and half-price appetizers and pizzas. During weekend brunch, $5 bottomless mimosas and bellinis.

Be forewarned, however: A majority of the barkeeps are hunky Italian types who don’t say much (in English) but can send your stewardess scampering for an oxygen mask with the curl of a unibrow.

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