Travel & Tips

Where to Eat and Drink at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta

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Maynard H Jackson Jr terminal

Whether you’re ready or not, the holiday season is swiftly approaching, and that means that we have once again arrived at one of the busiest travel times of the year. With so many family-centric holidays taking place over the next several weeks, countless people will be flocking to Hartsfield-Jackson to reconnect with their loved ones, and if you’re one of those Atlantans who will be taking a mini vacation from the A this winter, you should seriously start familiarizing yourself with all of the amazing restaurants at the airport.

Keep in mind that all of Hartsfield-Jackson’s concourses were not made equally—at least, food-wise—so if there are slim pickings near your gate, don’t get discouraged. From beloved local soul food eateries to delicious burger joints founded right here in Atlanta, there are great, non-chain food options for you to choose from. We all know that traveling through the airport can be extremely time-sensitive and a bit stressful, so to help ease your search for grub, we have put together a guide to the best restaurants at Hartsfield-Jackson and broken it down concourse-by-concourse.

Before we dive into those eateries, however, keep in mind that things at Hartsfield-Jackson change all the time. For the most up-to-date information, you can always check on restaurant hours, new openings, and closings by visiting the regularly updated ATL Skypointe website. With that said, here are 19 worthwhile restaurants to eat and drink at when traveling through the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta.

StarbucksStarbucks
Starbucks

Atlanta Chophouse & Brewery

Closest Gate: Pre-Security Atrium (North Side)
If you want a sit-down meal before you go through security, this two-level steakhouse makes you feel like a high roller. Stop by for the best New York strip in the airport with a pint of local SweetWater beer. You can catch your team’s game on the three flat-screen televisions, and it’s also the perfect place to charge your phone and wait for your Uber into town.

Closest Gate: Pre-Security Atrium (North Side), additional locations at C16 and C37
Depending on what time you arrive at the airport, going through security is almost always a bit stressful. However, no one deserves to go through that process without some coffee in their system, so stop by the Starbucks in the Atrium for some good coffee at a familiar price point. On the off chance that you forget to grab a latte before going through TSA, you can also get your coffee fix at Concourse C. Plus, Starbucks and Delta recently teamed up, so if you link your Starbucks Rewards account with your Delta Sky Miles account, you can earn double the points on the days that you travel.

Papi's Cuban GrillPapi's Cuban Grill
Papi’s Cuban Grill

Closest gate: T8
From Havana to Atlanta, you can experience authentic Cuban food day or night in the T Concourse. Papi’s has locations around the city, named for owner Reynaldo “Rey” Regalado’s late father. Their expanded airport menu includes fish tacos, empanadas, and strong Cuban coffee. But be sure to try the tostones and the all-important Cuban sandwich.

Closest gate: T11, additional location at D30
Skip the overpriced menu at Five Guys for a burger chain inspired by grindhouse films. Grindhouse Killer Burgers is a local success story, growing from their stall at the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market to five brick-and-mortar locations and two more at the airport. Their griddle-cooked burgers come in beef, turkey, and veggie varieties on potato buns with their signature sauce. Insiders know that it’s great for breakfast, offering breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and avocado toast.

Tap Gastropub Smoking Lounge, ATL Airport Concourse ATap Gastropub Smoking Lounge, ATL Airport Concourse A
Tap Gastropub Smoking Lounge, ATL Airport Concourse A

Closest gate: A3
The gastropub is now the only location after the Peachtree Street location closed in 2018, but some of their best dishes live on, including the pub burger, which tastes like a classier version of Wendy’s, and Cowgirl Creamery grilled cheese sandwich. Tap boasts a full bar that includes craft beer, wine, and cocktails, and it’s also a great stop if you’re  searching for a different take on breakfast.

Closest gate: A Center
Maybe you’re not super hungry, and all that you need to get you through your flight is a sweet treat. In that case, it’s crucial to have Piece of Cake on your radar. With locations spread across the city from Alpharetta to Camp Creek, this restaurant has earned a reputation as one of Atlanta’s favorite spots for gourmet desserts. Next time you’re traveling with a sweet tooth, be sure to grab slices of layered cake, shortbread cookies, or a cupcake (or two).

Closest gate: A Center
You don’t have to put up with Sbarro anymore as one of Atlanta’s best pizzeria has a location in the airport. These pies use sourdough yeast dough baked thin with fresh toppings straight from the motherland. Nana’s house specialty pie has their secret mixture of herbs and fresh mozzarella on a crispy crust. Pair with local draft beer from Three Taverns as you listen to live jazz tunes from the piano bar or watch the incoming flights from the windows. 

Closest gate: A12, additional standard Atlanta Bread locations at B7 and C30
With the Morrow location of Atlanta Bread recently closing, there are even fewer places where you can go to enjoy the local company’s mouthwatering sandwiches, bowls, salads, soups, and pastries. Fortunately, Atlanta Bread is still going strong at Hartsfield-Jackson, and its location in Concourse A comes with a bit of a twist—hence, the “& Bar” addition to its name. In addition to all of the great breakfast and lunch options that you’d expect from Atlanta Bread, you can also experience a full-fledged bar that’s powered by SweetWater Brewery, including signature breakfast cocktails like Bloody Marys (and Marias) and Salty Bulldogs to SweetWater drafts like the SweetWater 420 and the Hazy IPA.

Willy's Mexicana GrillWilly's Mexicana Grill
Willy’s Mexicana Grill

Closest gate: B Center
Travelers searching for great Georgia-made Mexican food can let out a collective sigh because Willy’s is back in business at Hartsfield Jackson. You can build your own burrito, tacos, quesadilla, nachos, and salad with proteins such as their mouth-watering red chili adobo chicken, perfectly grilled steak, new buffalo chicken, and Sinaolan tofu.

Closest gate: B Center
There’s fried chicken and then there’s Paschal’s. Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. planned marches at the Castleberry Hill location. You won’t find the history here, but you can get stellar Southern dishes, including the best fried chicken in the city, along with breakfast. It’s been a staple since 1979 and is one of the longest-running airport vendors.

Closest gate: B31
If you’re leaving Atlanta for a while but want one last sip of locally brewed beer, then enjoy one at Sweetwater Last Cast Bar & Grill, a bar in Concourse B that offers quick eats (with a surprisingly appealing hot breakfast menu) alongside some of the brewery’s most popular beers. Expect 420, Goin’ Coastal, and other favorites to be on tap, but don’t hesitate to ask your server for any special seasonal brews.

The VarsityThe Varsity
The Varsity

Closest Gate: C21
“What’ll ya have?” Servers in red hats greet you at the airport outposts. But you won’t wait in line with college students or sports fans like at the 61 North Avenue original. The Varsity serves its famous chili dogs, onion rings, and Varsity Orange beverage at this location and even has breakfast if your stomach can handle the delicious grease. Sure, you may find dozens of burgers in the airport, but how many are covered in chili? This restaurant wins for best translation from the Atlanta original. 

Closest Gate: C14
Open daily from 6 am to 10 pm, the beloved Virginia Highland taqueria has an excellent outpost at the airport. Here you’ll find their signature frozen margaritas along with Baha fish, pork carnitas, and even vegetarian tacos and burritos. Pair with the all-important guacamole.

Closest gate: C21, additional location at A Center (Concourse A Hours: 6 am – 9 pm)
You can’t discuss the food options in this terminal without mentioning the beloved Southern fast food staple that puts the “C” in Concourse C: Chick-fil-A. The nationwide chain has its headquarters in College Park (aka the same neighborhood where the airport is) and first opened in Greenbriar Mall in 1967. If you weren’t able to stop by one of the locations throughout the city on your way to the airport, you can always pick up some famous waffle fries on the way to your gate.

Closest Gate: C Center
The Southern-style diner grew from its Ansley Mall location into two others across state lines. The airport location is a standalone restaurant in “The Connection” food court that serves their most popular dishes like fried chicken, sandwiches, and Southern-style sides. They open bright and early with breakfast. You can order at the kiosks to save time and grab a sweet treat at the neighboring Krispy Kreme.

Chicken+BeerChicken+Beer
Chicken+Beer

Closest gate: D5
Forget that Popeye’s—and pretty much every other fast food chain’s—chicken sandwich. The chicken sandwich at the Ludacris-owned restaurant is where it’s at. Named for his 2003 album, the menu has plenty of both items. The Cajun boiled peanut hummus and shrimp and grits are also favorites. The company that partnered with Luda on this Southern-style eatery also runs One Flew South, so you know it’s good. They also have a great selection of Georgia craft beer, served in pints and flights. 

The Market by Food & Wine

Closest gate: D Center
Formerly the Food Network Kitchen, the Market by Food & Wine has dishes inspired by surroundings like the Big Peach sandwich (on bread by Holeman + Finch) and Buford Highway-inspired pho. Grab them to go or stay and enjoy a coffee, local beer, or glass of American wine. 

One Flew SouthOne Flew South
One Flew South

Closest Gate: E Center
This upscale dining experience completely changed the airport when it opened in 2008 as the only non-chain restaurant. Its regional cuisine, sushi, and craft cocktails have been nominated for a prestigious James Beard award for outstanding service. It’s not a stretch to say that this is the best restaurant in the airport and possibly all airports. Even the decor pays homage to its Georgia setting by using Cherokee marble and native heart pine wood.

EccoEcco
Ecco

Closest Gate: F Mezzanine
The Italian-inspired restaurant is among the best in the city. The airport has its own outpost, open for lunch and dinner from noon to 7 pm. Travelers can enjoy pasta, charcuterie, pizzas, and paninis with wine and cocktails. But their fried goat cheese balls and gelato are enough to make you hunker down into the airport like Tom Hanks in The Terminal.

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Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist.

Caroline Eubanks is a contributor for Thrillist.

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