Where to Find a Good Meal at Every Major U.S. Airport

Garden State Diner

Garden State Diner/Yelp

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Garden State Diner
Garden State Diner/Yelp

Topflight Airport Eats

Whether you planned to or not, eating at an airport is often a necessity. Maybe your flight was delayed for four hours, or maybe you planned ahead to enjoy a relaxing meal and drinks before your vacation starts. Believe it or not, there are some high quality airport restaurants worth the splurge — you just have to know where to look. Here are some of the best casual, grab-and-go spots and the best sit down dining experiences in each of the top 15 airports in the U.S., based on expert opinions and customer reviews. (If you have a long layover, here are some Unique Attractions Near Major Airports.)

Related: The Best Cities in America for People Who Love Food

Steve E./Yelp

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Casual: Paschal's
Paschal's is an Atlanta restaurant with a long history of serving up Southern specialties dating back to 1947. In 1979, they opened this casual counter service location inside the airport where you can get their famous fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, and biscuit breakfast sandwiches. It's a perfect meal for taking on the plane, because who doesn't like cold fried chicken?

One Flew South
Jared W./Yelp

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Splurge: One Flew South
Consistently ranked as one of the best airport restaurants in the country and nominated twice for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Service, One Flew South serves chic travel-inspired fare and sushi. Items like hamachi crudo and pan roasted New York strip don't come cheap, but they will make your travels so much more enjoyable. To save a little money while still treating yourself, grab a sushi roll or two. The cocktail menu is also a standout, with housemade syrups and amaro.

Related: The Best Sushi Restaurant in All 50 States

Trejo's Tacos
Monique M./Yelp

Los Angeles International Airport

Casual: Trejo's Tacos
Actor Danny Trejo's trendy taco shop Trejo's Tacos has made a lot of fans in L.A., and recently opened an outpost at LAX. The menu is not as extensive as other locations, but still offers most of the fan favorites like spicy shrimp with diablo sauce, carnitas with pineapple, and vegan options like cauliflower or jackfruit with avocado cream. Grab a burrito for the ultimate portable meal.

Related: 27 Tasty Taco Places Across the Country

Denise N./Yelp

Los Angeles International Airport

Splurge: Petrossian
What could be more of a splurge than champagne and caviar? Located inside the international terminal is an outpost of caviar shop Petrossian. It offers a little respite in all the hubbub with a large selection of caviar and wine, small bites like caviar-topped deviled eggs, and smoked salmon and caviar flatbread. If you've got no time to sit and relax, you can even get a "picnic in the sky" with your choice of caviar all packed up to go — presumably in first class.

Tortas Frontera
Rachel C./Yelp

O'Hare International Airport

Casual: Tortas Frontera
Not only is Tortas Frontera the best quick spot to grab something to go in O'Hare, it's maybe the best restaurant in the airport period. It's from Rick Bayless, the Chicago-based chef who holds countless awards and accolades for his Mexican cookbooks and restaurants. The crusty torta bread is stacked high on the counter, and can be filled with anything from garlic shrimp and goat cheese to cochinita pibil. For a snack, check out the guacamole bar with toppings like bacon and toasted pepitas.

Publican Tavern
Susan K./Yelp

O'Hare International Airport

Splurge: Publican Tavern
An outpost of the popular, acclaimed restaurant Publican in Fulton Market, Publican Tavern offers a lot of the same farmhouse-sourced, seasonal dishes in a mellow, sophisticated atmosphere. Spicy pork rinds, a delicious pub burger, and roasted farm chicken with frites are all available at the ORD location, so you don't even have to go into the city if you don't have time.

Cousin's BBQ
Michael M./Yelp

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Casual: Cousin's BBQ
You can't leave Texas without having some barbecue brisket, and Cousin's BBQ is right there in the airport to make sure you get some. Order a 1-, 2-, or 3-meat plate with options like sliced or chopped brisket, pulled pork and jalapeno cheddar sausage. Sides like pinto beans and potato salad are musts. And if you like their barbecue sauce, you can purchase a bottle right here to take home.

Related: Bucket List Barbecue in Every State

Whitetail Bistro
Karen L./Yelp

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Splurge: Whitetail Bistro
A modern Texas bistro with a French twist, Whitetail Bistro is run by well-known Dallas chef Kent Rathbun. Its upscale casual atmosphere offers a respite from the chaos of the terminal walkways. Grass-fed, hormone-free beef is featured in the chicken fried steak with jalapeno sausage cream, and crispy roasted duck gets a sweet pepper lacquer glaze. Huevos rancheros made with cage-free eggs are not to be overlooked at breakfast.

Steve's Snappin' Dogs
Jaclyn O./Yelp

Denver International Airport

Casual: Steve's Snappin' Dogs
Look, sometimes you just need a hot dog. And if you happen to be in Denver International Airport when that craving hits, you can get yourself Steve's Snappin' Dogs. An outpost of its New Jersey-style hot dog stand on East Colfax Avenue, it sells hot dogs with toppings inspired by cities around the country. There's a full Chicago dog, an Atlanta slaw dog, and the Denver dog, which is like a chili cheese dog with bacon wrapped in a flour tortilla.

Related: Famous Franks: 30 Best Hot Dog Stands Across America

Root Down
Carly W./Yelp

Denver International Airport

Splurge: Root Down
Root Down is a funky and vintage-inspired space full of color and whimsy that will easily make you forget you're in an airport for a little while. It serves vegetable-focused American comfort food and humanely raised meats. Burgers come in beef and bacon or veggie versions with sweet potato fries, or try a charred broccoli and farro salad. All-day brunch is offered too, including a Cornflake-crusted peach-bourbon french toast with candied ginger.

Shake Shack
Miss Ninja/Yelp

John F. Kennedy International Airport

Casual: Shake Shack
Though it's since become a chain, Shake Shack started in NYC and is still very much beloved by locals. You'd be remiss if you didn't eat there while visiting, especially if you don't have any near your home. The smash burgers are always presented well, with frilly lettuce, exactly two slices of roma tomato, and perfectly melted American cheese, and that attention to detail is often hard to find in quick airport meals. Don't skip the cheese sauce for the fries.

Deep Blue
Mark W./Yelp

John F. Kennedy International Airport

Splurge: Deep Blue
Airport restaurants are usually known for their terrible sushi, but Deep Blue in JFK is different. The fish is fresh and presented well, whether you're getting a fluke crudo or a dragon roll. There's also a large selection of cooked dishes, including everything from pork gyoza to teriyaki lamb chops. The atmosphere is super sleek and reminiscent of either being in a spaceship or under the sea, so it's like an oasis in the middle of the airport.

Manufactory Food Hall
Jennifer C./Yelp

San Francisco International Airport

Casual: Manufactory Food Hall
Food halls are trendy everywhere, including in airports. The Manufactory Food Hall includes three distinct counter service options from well-known San Francisco chefs, and you can't go wrong with any of them. Grab a pain au chocolat from Tartine for breakfast, a rockfish adobo and guacamole bowl from Tacos Cala for lunch, or a Thai fried chicken box with tumeric rice and papaya salad at Kamin for dinner.

Cat Cora's Kitchen
Elena M./Yelp

San Francisco International Airport

Splurge: Cat Cora's Kitchen
Iron Chef Cat Cora's restaurant empire has expanded to San Fran's airport with Cat Cora's Kitchen. This upscale — at least by airport standards — spot includes a raw bar with fresh oysters, small plates and entrees, so you can eat just as much or as little as you like. Lamb meatballs with harissa Greek yogurt, seafood paella, and a simple burger are all popular. Grab a bloody mary in the morning with fresh basil and green chile vodka to get your day going.

Related: 26 Over-the-Top Bloody Marys Across America

Sam Choy's Poke to the Max
Andrew S./Yelp

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport

Casual: Sam Choy's Poke to the Max
This Seattle-based Hawaiian restaurant just opened a location at SEATAC. Sam Choy's Poke to the Max has a full service sit down area, but also a counter service area with a smaller menu for travelers on the go. Grab a poke bowl, salad or wrap with ahi or salmon, or garlic fried chicken with rice and macaroni salad. If you're around for breakfast, order loco moco, a hamburger patty with rice, mac salad and a fried egg smothered in brown gravy.

Sonal S./Yelp

Seattle–Tacoma International Airport

Splurge: Floret
Floret is an outpost of Cafe Flora, and like that restaurant, this one has a vegetarian menu. It feels like a small bistro with muted colors, curvy bentwood chairs, and lots of green plants. Try the potato tacos served with black bean stew and smoky braised greens, or a barbecue jackfruit sandwich. In the morning, freshly baked vegan cinnamon rolls with pecans are hard to resist.

Rachel's Kitchen
Cathy C./Yelp

McCarran International Airport

Casual: Rachel's Kitchen
Rachel's Kitchen is a small Vegas-based chain with a menu of sandwiches, fresh juices, salads and smoothies that translates well to an airport grab-and-go location. Juices and smoothies will be made fresh for you so they're perfect on your way out of town if you need to start a little detox. Deli sandwiches like chicken salad and smoked turkey, and salads like cobb, spinach, and grilled vegetables are made daily and stocked in the cooler for fast service.

Las Vegas Chophouse & Brewery
Katherine L./Yelp

McCarran International Airport

Splurge: Las Vegas Chophouse & Brewery
The options at McCarran aren't great, probably because of its proximity to all the fantastic restaurants on the Strip. But if your flight is delayed and you're stuck here, Las Vegas Chophouse & Brewery is the best sit down option. It's got all the classic steakhouse options like crab cakes, fried calamari, caesar salad and filet mignon, plus plenty of sandwiches and burgers to appeal to everyone.

Zaza Cuban Cafe & Coffee
Leslie F./Yelp

Orlando International Airport

Casual: Zaza Cuban Cafe & Coffee
Florida and Cuban food go hand in hand, so it's not surprising that Zaza Cuban Cafe is one of the best quick options in Orlando's airport. It's a local restaurant with a few other locations, and specializes in pressed breakfast and lunch sandwiches on crusty Cuban bread. Three kinds of empanadas, guava pastries and sweet cheese quesitos make great snacks that are easy to eat on a plane. Strong Cuban coffee will help wake you up after a redeye.

Related: 11 Top Latin American Restaurants Across the U.S.

Cask & Larder
Irene S./Yelp

Orlando International Airport

Splurge: Cask & Larder
A ceiling made of glass and a majestic tree in the middle of the space make Cask & Larder a real oasis amidst chaos. The menu at this relaxed table service spot is heavily influenced by Southern flavors. Bologna sliders are topped with green tomatoes and Duke's mayo, Nashville hot chicken gets a drizzle of Alabama white sauce, and brussels sprouts are glazed with Cheerwine. Grab a flight of local beers, or a lemonade, vodka and ginger beer cocktail on tap.

Garden State Diner
Garden State Diner/Yelp

Newark Liberty International Airport

Casual: Garden State Diner
Diner culture is alive and well in New Jersey, even at the airport. Garden State Diner has a full menu of comfort food, and when else is comfort food more appropriate than when you're stressed out traveling? Grab a cheeseburger and a vanilla malt, or try the peanut butter and banana pancakes. Eat there for the full diner experience, or hit up the to-go counter for big muffins, sandwiches, and piles of cookies.

Related: The Best Spot for Comfort Food in Every State

Nicole P./Yelp

Newark Liberty International Airport

Splurge: Abruzzo
Italian steakhouse Abruzzo caters to business travelers with big food budgets and anyone who wants to relax in a modern, minimalist atmosphere while sipping a couple glasses of wine. You can get a huge 24-ounce bone-in ribeye, a large, crispy piece of chicken parmesan, beef tartare with anchovies and capers, or penne a la vodka. You can get steak at breakfast too, along with eggs, french toast, waffles and other classics.

Related: 25 Steakhouses That Are Worth the Splurge

Brookwood Farms Carolina Pit BBQ
Harley S./Yelp

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Casual: Brookwood Farms Carolina Pit BBQ
You can't leave North Carolina without having some barbecue, and this Brookwood Farms counter at the food court is conveniently located to make sure you won't. Its meats are cooked over hickory charcoal overnight so they're tender and juicy. Grab a plate with one or two meats, including brisket and chopped pork, then check out the hotline to find out which sides look best. Mac and cheese, beans and fried pickle spears are good bets.

Carla B./Yelp

Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Splurge: Beaudevin
Beaudevin is a sophisticated but approachable wine bar and restaurant inside the main terminal of CLT. There are a handful of wine flights you can enjoy, including a flight of local Carolinas wines. The menu is composed of mostly small plates, including charcuterie and cheese and spicy shrimp flatbread. Sandwiches, including a steak and blue cheese version, are more substantial dishes on offer. Save room for a few chocolate truffles to pair with your wine for dessert.

Kelsey F./Yelp

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Casual: Wildflower
An outpost of a local Arizona chain bakery, Wildflower serves up some of the best, freshest sandwiches and salads at Sky Harbor. Salads like chicken caesar and vegetable quinoa are artfully arranged in to-go containers for travelers on the move. Sandwiches, like turkey and brie, are made on freshly baked bread, bagels, and rolls. Grab a massive cookie, muffin or scone for the plane.

Chelsea's Kitchen
Jason S./Yelp

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Splurge: Chelsea's Kitchen
Chelsea's Kitchen is a popular avant garde restaurant in Phoenix serving Southwestern cuisine, and they've opened a location in the airport. They serve a relatively large menu of starters and salads like tuna tartare and guacamole; full meal taco platters with fillings like braised short ribs and grilled swordfish; and entrees like a local favorite green chile cheeseburger and wood-fired rotisserie chicken. Wash it all down with a refreshing prickly pear margarita.


George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Casual: Pala
Pizza is one of the ultimate travel foods, since it's relatively compact and you can eat it on the go or cold if needed. At Pala, individual-sized pizzas cook quickly in special pizza ovens, so while you can sit and enjoy it leisurely, you can also get it to go pretty fast. The classic margherita has fresh mozzarella cheese and basil, or get a smoked pork pie with white sauce, pulled pork, and roasted peppers. Salads, apps and wine are also available.

Itsabout T./Yelp

George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Splurge: Ember
From James Beard Award-winning Houston chef Chris Shepherd is this upscale steak and seafood restaurant. Ember is a standalone restaurant with red plush banquettes and an open kitchen to watch the grill. You can get a massive 32-ounce tomahawk ribeye if you want something Texas-sized or grab a brined pork chop for something a little more manageable. Creole shrimp cocktail, beet salad, and a catfish po'boy round out the menu.

Cafe Versailles
Vivianne C./Yelp

Miami International Airport

Casual: Cafe Versailles
The famous historical Cuban restaurant Versailles has an outpost in MIA. Cafe Versailles sells all kinds of takeout Cuban goodies, including lots of empanadas, guava pastries, and ham croquettes. For something more substantial, grab a pressed Cubano or medianoche sandwich, which is essentially the same thing but on a sweet, eggy bread. Shots of Cuban coffee will wake you up in the morning.

Usman L./Yelp

Miami International Airport

Splurge: Viena
Located in MIA's hotel, Viena takes a little bit of work to find but it's worth the trouble. The views from the 7th floor of the runways are great for plane enthusiasts. It's a farm-to-table restaurant chain from Brazil, and it's the first location in the U.S. Start with traditional Brazilian cheese bread, then try a caprese salad, beef stroganoff, or New York strip steak. Caramel-topped flan is a great way to end your meal.