The Best Atlanta Airport Restaurants to Try on Your Next Layover
Forget your actual destination. These 12 foodie hot spots at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are the places to be.
One Flew South
You might find it hard to believe that this is an airport restaurant. Located in the International Terminal (Concourse E), One Flew South offers an internationally inspired menu with a strong regional influence and a very upscale dining experience. And it has some serious cred: It’s earned nominations as a semifinalist in the James Beard Awards (basically, the food world’s version of the Oscars) for Outstanding Service, while Jackmont Hospitality’s Culinary Director, Todd Richards got a nod for Best Chef: Southeast. If you have some extra time to kill after eating at one of these Atlanta airport restaurants, check out these other ideas for what to do during your layover.
Grindhouse Killer Burgers
Some of the best restaurants in the Atlanta airport are outposts of popular places in the city, like Grindhouse Killer Burgers. While it obviously appeals to carnivores with its bevy of burger options, Grindhouse also has equally solid vegetarian fare—something that can be hard to come by in airports. The Atlanta Business Chronical pegged the restaurant as a key member of Atlanta’s burger renaissance when it first opened in 2009, and it has been sprouting all over the area since. In fact, it has not one but two locations inside Hartsfield-Jackson, at Gates D and T.
Another classic city burger joint, born in 1928, has made its way to this collection of the top Atlanta airport restaurants. You won’t get quite the same taste of drive-in culture that you would at the Varsity’s flagship location, which has been dubbed the world’s largest drive-in. (It takes up two city blocks and can accommodate 800 diners.) But you can get the same great-quality burgers and hot dogs with all the fixings between flights.
Bobby’s Burger Palace
Food Network superstar Bobby Flay is the Bobby behind Bobby’s Burger Palace. Here, you’ll have your choice of nearly a dozen signature burgers—beef, turkey, chicken, and veggie—as well as salads, hand-cut fries, and mind-blowing milkshakes. If you’re traveling with a group, this is a terrific option since there’s sure to be something for everybody.
Pizza is a convenient airport food to grab and go (and eat on the go, if your connection is tight). But not all pizza—especially airport pizza—is created equal. That’s why you should head to Varasano’s if you have a pizza craving during your layover in Atlanta. Bronx native Jeff Varasano has brought some serious New York flair to this Southern city. How good is this restaurant? Every Day with Rachael Ray named it one of the Elite 8 Pizzerias in the country.
The Original El Taco
Try a delicious Tex-Mex dish like the quintessential Queso Royale (with jalapeno and chorizo) at The Original El Taco’s Hartsfield-Jackson location, along with tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and more. It’s a good quick-service option if your layover isn’t very long since you’ll still be getting top-notch fare. The restaurant is the brainchild of Fifth Group Restaurants, the company behind Atlanta mainstays like South City Kitchen, Alma Cocina, and La Tavola. Of course, it’s always a good idea to eat before you get on a flight, especially if you’re flying on one of the airlines with the worst food.
Wolfgang Puck Express
The Los Angeles chef behind the famed Spago restaurant has Wolfgang Puck Express restaurants in several airports around the country. While you won’t get local Atlanta flavor here, you can grab a fresh salad that doesn’t look like it was packaged a month ago. For more healthy options to choose while traveling, check out these nutritionist-approved tips on what to eat (and what to avoid) at the airport.
This famous Atlanta eatery, known for its fried chicken and some other scrumptious Southern fare, has a long, impressive history—and not just with food. Paschal’s started as a sandwich shop in the city in 1947 and went on to serve as an important gathering place during the Civil Rights Movement for leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr. These days, in addition to its downtown location, you can find it at the Atlanta airport.
Chicken + Beer
With a name like that, you pretty much know what to expect. The surprising part is just how good it is and who owns it: Jackmont Hospitality and rapper/actor Ludacris. Chicken + Beer is a stop worth considering if you’re looking for an impressive selection of craft beers and dishes like waffles and chicken, blackened catfish, collard greens, and short rib mac ‘n’ cheese. It also consistently earns raves from travelers on TripAdvisor.
It can be hard to eat healthy when you’re on the go, even at the Atlanta airport restaurants that seemingly have some balance. If you want to cut straight to the freshest produce, get a fruit cup or smoothie at LottaFrutta, or add them as sides to a Cuban-style sandwich.
Jekyll Island Seafood Company
Before you head out of the area, get a few final bites of delicious Southern coastal cuisine at the original Atlanta airport outpost of the Jekyll Island Seafood Company. (It’s now also a mainstay restaurant located in Jekyll Island’s Beach Village.) You can expect fresh seafood, like wild Georgia shrimp with grits, plus a variety of sandwiches, salads, and other entrées.
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The famed New York burger chain is one of the more sought-after Atlanta airport restaurants on the fast-food end of the spectrum. It’s a good quick stop if you’re in Concourse A, even if all you try is one of the delectable Shake Shack shakes. Plus, you can feel good about this dining choice: The Shack recently earned an ethical honor, the Compassion in World Farming’s 2017 Good Farm Animal Welfare Awards (GFAWA). While spending your money at any of these Atlanta airport restaurants will be well worth it, don’t ever buy these 15 things at the airport.