The 15 Best Restaurants At Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport

First-class sushi, great airport breakfast spots, and other top places to eat at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
rigatoni pasta

Wherever your travels take you this summer, there's a good chance they'll route you through Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. As the world’s busiest airport, we get how everything can seem a bit overwhelming—and maybe even confusing—so we're happy to offer the following guidance:

Yes, T-gates comes before A. Don't ask why.

Stay on the Plane Train for domestic baggage claim.

And follow this guide for the 15 best dining destinations before your next flight.

Editor's Note: scroll down for the best breakfast options.


photo credit: Amy Sinclair


Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

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This wine-centric chain isn’t unique to Atlanta, but they’ve partnered with Southern National to bring down-home flair to their ATL menu. It’s a long trek to the very end of Concourse T, so if you have yet to invest in a bag with wheels this journey might be what tips the scales. But we’d gladly make this expedition to enjoy a calmer section of the airport as we dig into upscale Southern dishes like their lamb ragu with tasty ground lamb, al dente rigatoni, and a light dusting of parmesan. If you really want to start vacation early, pair it with The Brookhaven for a burst of cool, refreshing cucumber tinged with gin and St. Germain. While it’s not quite as good as the Summerhill spot, we’d still clear it for takeoff.


When you finally make it through the TSA lines and have an emotional reunion with your shoes, Papi’s in Concourse T will welcome you with open arms (and a bar). The specialty cocktails fill up an entire page of the menu, so when you’re in the mood for a drink that tastes like it should have a mini umbrella in it, this is your spot. They do an American breakfast in the morning with standards like omelets and french toast, but it's always a good plan to hit it for lunch for Cuban cuisine staples like their cheesy pork sandwich on crispy bread with tangy pickles. Sit at the bar or snag a window seat overlooking the domestic terminal drop-off and high five yourself for avoiding that mess by taking MARTA. 

Gates T and D

While there’s a host of burger joints around the terminals, Grindhouse’s two airport posts (Concourse T and D) are the best fast-casual options and the only spots where you can get ’em while also staring at vintage toys on the shelves. But unlike at the popular, eclectically-decorated offsite locations around town, here you select breakfast, lunch, or dinner from a self-service touchscreen. Pat yourself on the back for making the proper order of a Grindhouse-style double burger (dry-aged beef, American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and Thousand Island-y Grindhouse sauce), crinkle fries, and a Blizzard-like Oreo Chiller you can devour at the bar or from your seat at the gate.


A marble countertop bar, a kitchen window to watch as chefs prep your food, and menu options like fig and ricotta toast and port-marinated lamb shank almost make us forget we’re at the airport when we eat at Cat Cora’s—although the carry-on suitcases in between tables provide a helpful reminder. Hit this contemporary American food spot when your flight has been delayed because service doesn’t exactly reach supersonic speeds. But killing time with a glass of wine and one last creamy shrimp and grits meal before leaving Georgia always feels like a win.


Varasano’s has always been a quiet, low-key pizzeria in Buckhead. But the location in the airport is neither quiet nor low-key since it sits at the back of an always busy food court in Concourse A. While the menu isn’t as robust as the original restaurant, it's easy to forgive them since you’re just here for the pizza anyway. The airport Varasano’s still cooks its dough at high temperatures, so you get the crispy yet soft-centered Neapolitan crust that we love from the brand. And with fresh mozzarella and other high-quality toppings, Varasano’s is the best option for pizza in the airport.


Before this Atlanta-born celebrity chef opened his Midtown restaurant, his southern cafeteria-style food stall was holding things down in Concourse A’s food court for nearly a decade. For anyone in the mood for a home-cooked meal, LowCountry delivers just that—and much faster than any other hot food vendor in the airport. The baked rosemary chicken is tender and filling enough to keep you content on any long-haul flight. Plus, LowCountry is a good intro to Atlanta’s famous meat-and-two culture since you can pair the chicken or another protein with soul food staples like mac and cheese and cheesy grits. And if you finish your meal with the bread pudding, you're gonna be good and ready to sleep through your flight.


If you're just passing through Atlanta, all you might notice about Paschal’s is its cafeteria-style spread of ribs, collards, and other soul food staples. What we see is a tasty extension of an institution rooted in the ATL since the ’40s. But the thing we love most about this airport outpost is that it doesn’t cut corners in the kitchen. The forkfuls of down-home delight you get with the fried chicken and mac and cheese here in the food court is nearly the same as what you get at the iconic Northside Drive location—only thing missing is the attentive service and ’70s soul tunes.


There aren’t a ton of BBQ options at the airport, which makes sense because scarfing down huge helpings of pork, baked beans, and mac and cheese might not be the ideal meal before being squished into a middle seat for five hours. But when Mustard Seed’s tender brisket and slightly vinegary potato salad touches our lips, it puts all thoughts of fighting for an arm rest out of our minds (it belongs to the middle seat. Period). It’s worth the trek to Concourse D to get our hands on a solid Southern meal, and the laid-back vibes of the wood-paneled space feel homey and warm.


Chicken + Beer in Concourse D pays homage to co-owner Ludacris’ prolific past with CD plaques and murals on the wall. Most importantly for travelers, its primary focus is serving bar standards, southern staples (catfish, ribs), and good brews. Try the three plump whole wings covered in a spicy Hotlanta sauce that tickles long after you’ve finished your IPA—we’re still dreaming about the fluffy maple butter biscuit that comes on the side. The dish is so good you’ll want seconds, but by then, you’ll have to literally “roll out” of Luda’s restaurant.


We’d rather drag a broken roller bag down Peachtree than fight families for a gate seat, which is why we just hit One Flew South if there's extra time before departure. Plus, drinking sake while pretending to forest bathe in floor-to-ceiling imagery of lush green trees beats any fancy lounge pass. Since 2009, the Asian and Southern fusion restaurant has had people reconfiguring their flight schedules for a taste of their internationally-famous dishes (they’re now on the BeltLine, too). The sushi offerings are first-class, especially since they get multiple weekly fresh fish shipments. The venue also offers creative dishes like soy and ginger-marinated tuna jerky and the best burger in the entire airport. 


The real reason ATL experts recommend that you arrive three hours early for an international flight isn't about getting through security, but for relaxing at Ecco. Yes, that's a bold claim, but we stand by it. A (dare we say) sexy restaurant and bar in Concourse F, the wood-accentuated, softly-lit Ecco is where you park your bag and get lost in a gratifying glass of red wine and their Italian-inspired menu. For the optimum experience, sit on the rear balcony while enjoying a tender steak panini and garlic-sprinkled fries and peer down on your fellow flyers rushing to their gates.


T-Gates, open at 7am

In the predawn hours, nothing is more annoying than TSA agents yelling about shoe removal. Sprinkle in some hunger pangs, and it’s the perfect recipe to lose your cool and wind up as the next star of an airport meltdown viral video. To make it through security line hell, just focus on the breakfast sandwich that’s waiting for you at Papi’s in Concourse T. Perfectly crusty Cuban bread holds fluffy eggs and your choice of bacon, ham, or chicken sausage. Just add hot sauce, and it’s the Mona Lisa of airport breakfast options. And if your sweet tooth never sleeps, snag their decent french toast, drown it in syrup, and get energized for a long day of travel.

A-Gates, open at 6:30am

P.F. Chang’s offers the most relaxed sit-down breakfast in Hartsfield-Jackson airport, and it’s ideal in those moments when you’ve got plenty of time to kill before your flight. An escalator leads up to this quiet cove in the center of Concourse A, where the Vietnamese spiked cold brews and Bloody Marys (mixed with sake and sriracha) start flowing at 6:30am. Get the breakfast fried rice—our favorite on their small, four-entree morning menu. It’s just spicy enough to wake you up while the chunks of wok-fried chicken and a yolky sunnyside egg take you to a place of inner calm and comfort, which will do well for you later when you’re fighting for an armrest.

Gates T and A, open 6am

When we want a quick breakfast sandwich that’ll fill us up for a cross-country flight, we head straight to Goldbergs—a decades-long Atlanta favorite for NY-style bagels. Although the airport locations don’t offer Goldbergs’ full griddle menu, they still have nine bagel choices, multiple schmears, eggs, breakfast proteins, and deli meats. Get the Lox Special, which comes with your choice of bagel and is loaded with smoked salmon, red onion, tomatoes, capers, lettuce, and an obscene amount of cream cheese.

photo credit: Amy Sinclair

Grindhouse Killer Burgers


Gates T and D, open 6am

When that burger craving hits at 6am, you might think you're out of options. But Grindhouse Killer Burgers (Concourses T and D) offers a workaround for those early-morning hours when you’re in need of something meaty and substantial that won’t pin you down like fast food often does. While a traditional burger isn't on the menu at dawn, the Avocado Toast Platter presents a solid alternative: sausage fried to a crisp and topped with a smooth avocado spread on a soft burger bun. It's a good way to satisfy those untimely burger urges.

Gates C and F, open at 6am

When The Original El Taco closed in Virginia-Highland, we were distraught thinking of our last tasty taco there. But two locations (in Terminals C and F) remain operational in the airport, so we can still indulge in a taco or two (even if it’s not nearly as good as the flagship restaurant). The counter stalls open at 6am every morning and offer a few breakfast options. Flour tortillas filled with standard, large-batch scrambled eggs, pico, and guacamole might not exactly taste first-class. But clocking in at $5 each, our wallet is happy and we’re on our way to our departure gate with food in hand while our friends are still near the back of some coffee shop line.

F-Gates, open at 6am

When those breakfast cravings hit in the afternoon, The Pecan Bistro in the F-Gates food court is the lone airport spot that takes flight. The only thing more Southern than having the name "The Pecan Bistro" is serving fried chicken and waffles all day long. Although the plump, fried chicken tenders could use a lil' seasoning and the soft Belgium waffle needs the flavor assist from lots of syrup, we still keep the Pecan Bistro in consideration since all the other airport breakfast menus end between 9:30am and 11am. And if you're here before 9:30am, you can snag something from their full breakfast menu, like an egg white omelet stuffed with feta and spinach and a side of pepper jack grits.

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