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Tom Douglas chili? Craft beers? Vodka mojitos? New airline menu choices

U.S. airlines raise the bar on in-flight food choices with chef signature dish, craft beers and more.

In-flight food served on airlines is said to be getting healthier, but what about better options for fliers who don't always have a chance to grab a bite at the airport?

Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines have introduced some new choices that have a regional flair.

Alaska this month added an entree from Chef Tom Douglas, who has 16 restaurants around Seattle, including Dahlia Lounge, Etta's and Trattoria Cuoco.

Now fliers can order Cascade Brisket Chili, a "signature dish" from the James Beard Award winner, on flights departing from Seattle and lasting more than 2 1/2 hours.

The dish includes "smoky chunks of brisket in a mildly spicy ancho tomato sauce" served over a baked potato, according to an airline statement. The chili costs $8, with more Douglas dishes to rotate in next year.

Meanwhile, Delta this month has started stocking its beverage carts with $6 craft beers such as Ballast Point Brewing Co. in San Diego, Blue Point Brewing Co. in Long Island, N.Y., and Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido.

The lineup will be served on several flights, including L.A.-San Francisco and transcontinental flights from L.A. to New York City.

Delta received big props and second place in the recent 2014 Diet Detective (a.k.a. Dr. Charles Platkin) survey of 13 U.S. airlines.

"Delta has come a long way and is absolutely most improved," Platkin said in a statement last month. "The airline finally woke up and started offering many healthy options."

The airline has partnered with a company called Luvo to provide meals such as a Fresh Breakfast Medley or a Quinoa Crunch Wrap Snack Box.

And in terms of novel offerings, Virgin America is on it.

Last month the airline started serving Cucumber Vodka Mojitos from  Austin Cocktails for $8.25 a drink.

Virgin America took top place in the Diet Detective survey and also won Travel + Leisure's 2014 best domestic airline for food award.

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