Where To Eat At O'Hare Airport image


Where To Eat At O'Hare Airport

Ditch the pre-packaged salad and bag of stale pretzels—check these places out instead.

Let’s face it, O’Hare isn’t exactly the pinnacle of fine dining (at least it's still better than Midway). For the most part, eating at the airport only happens out of necessity—you didn’t grab food beforehand, your flight was delayed, or you forgot to add a JP Graziano’s pit stop to your Uber ride. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign to a tired visit to the golden arches or picking up a sad grab-and-go salad. So whether you need a quick bite before rushing to the gate or want to kill time while you’re stuck in holiday travel purgatory, find comfort in some tortas, hand carved sandwiches, and even sushi.


photo credit: Chicago Department Of Aviation



O'Hare Airport

$$$$Perfect For:Quick EatsLunchClassic Establishment
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Terminal 1, near Gate C18

Billy Goat Tavern is a Chicago institution that’s known for their solid (though occasionally overcooked) cheeseburgers. Or, “cheezborgers” if you’re fluent in Billy Goat speak. Sure, they also have other food like Italian beef and hot dogs, but don’t let those distract you. While you eat your double or triple cheezborger (a flimsy single patty can’t stand up to their thick Kaiser rolls), you can start figuring out the perfect pitch to convince the people in your row to let you have the window seat.

Terminal 1, near Gate B1

Terminal 1, near Gate C10

Terminal 3, near Gate L10A

Goose Island is Chicago’s oldest brewery—so naturally the main draw of their O’Hare outpost is beer. Solely consuming liquid carbs can definitely amount to a full meal, but they also have some bar food like cheese curds, burgers, and paninis for anyone looking to actually use their jaw muscles. Plus, they have a bunch of seating if you’re searching for a place to hang out that doesn’t involve the crying toddler at your gate.

Terminal 1, near Gate B10

Terminal 3, near Gate K4

Terminal 5, near Gate M18

There’s an army of premade sandwiches hanging out in coolers between nearly every gate trying to tempt travelers with the allure of convenience. Ignore them—just take a few extra minutes to grab a torta from Tortas Frontera instead. Each one is made-to-order with crackly bread and tasty fillings like roasted chicken with poblano rajas, chile-rubbed cauliflower, and even chorizo and egg for breakfast. Two of the locations open at 5am—perfect for anyone who has an early flight or a serious case of Get-To-The-Airport-Early Syndrome.

photo credit: Chicago Department Of Aviation


Terminal 1, near Gate C26

Berghoff Cafe’s old-timey interior and stained glass is charming enough that you might momentarily forget you’re at an airport. The illusion extends to the food, which is good even outside of airport standards. Their fluffy omelets are always a solid choice for breakfast, but the best things here are the sandwiches. From chunky reubens to turkey pesto paninis, they’re all reliably tasty and come with bread that’s baked and shipped daily from their main restaurant in the Loop. 

Terminal 2, Main Hall

When you want to eat at an actual table and not at a crowded airport gate next to someone whose private business call sounds more like a public speech, Summer House Santa Monica is a solid option. Like its Lincoln Park location, there’s no shortage of string lights and hanging plants. Though their handhelds like chicken sandwiches, burgers, and grilled fish tacos won’t blow your mind, they’re all more reliable than your flight’s estimated time of departure. And if you’re about to be on a long flight and don't want to deal with stale pretzels or suspicious in-flight meatloaf, feel free to order some starters to go like pita and hummus or chips and salsa.

Terminal 1, near Gate C19

Terminal 2, near Gate E4

Terminal 3, near Gate H18

Terminal 5, Arrivals

Airport delays will make anyone wish they could just turn into a bird and fly away on their own. But since that’s not possible, you can at least commit to your avian daydream by eating like a bird. Almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, chocolate-covered peanuts—Nuts on Clark truly lives up to its name with their vast assortment of, well, nuts. Grab a variety pack and maybe some of their popcorn if you want to mix things up.

Terminal 1, near Gate C1

Terminal 2, Main Hall

Wicker Park doesn’t have a world-famous fish market or a restaurant that’s related to this place, so we can’t tell you why it’s called Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi Bar. What we can tell you is that the maki, nigiri, and sashimi are all solid options if the usual airport diet of fast food, salads, and bags of half-crushed Cheez-Its doesn't really seem enticing. Plus, with a decent amount of tables and a spacious marble bar, it’s one of the nicer looking places for a sit-down meal.

Terminal 1, near Gate B8

Terminal 3, near Gate H2

Terminal 5, near Gate M18

Didn’t bring a carry-on? Sounds like a perfect opportunity to schlep a giant tin of Garrett’s onboard. Have some buttery popcorn for an appetizer and classic cheese as your entree, then finish up your mid-flight popcorn tasting menu with some CaramelCrisp. If you’re not ready to commit to the ridiculousness of snacking on a 6.5-gallon Celebration tin while watching The Expendables with a set of broken earbuds, you can also just order a personal-sized bag. 

Terminal 3, near Gate L4

Gold Coast Dogs has burgers, Italian beef, and a grab-and-go section with pre-made food, but its name should be a clear indicator why you’d stop by. You’re here for all things hot dog. There are regular ones, jumbo chili dogs, and even distant relatives like bratwurst, Italian sausage, and Polish sausage. And if you’re a visitor who forgot to plan a Chicago dog pit stop or a local who’s already homesick, you can get yours dragged through the garden, complete with pickle spear, onions, sport peppers, and slices of tomato.

photo credit: Chicago Department Of Aviation


Terminal 3, near Gate K1

When it comes to sit-down spots, Publican Tavern is one of the better ones. This pub is an offshoot of a Fulton Market staple with tasty New American food, and while the menu here is much smaller, the food could lift up your spirits even after experiencing the rollercoaster of “delayed” and “not delayed” text notifications from your airline. Expect dishes like sticky burnt chile wings, turkey salads with honey tabasco vinaigrette, or a fried fish sandwich with herby gribiche on a brioche bun. Plus, since it is a tavern, a pre-flight beer is pretty much mandatory.

Terminal 5, Pre-Security

TSA anxiety making you hungry? Enter The Goddess and Grocer—the only restaurant in the airport where you can grab a bite before braving the hour-long security line. The menu mainly focuses on salads and handhelds, so expect things like breakfast burritos, Thai chicken wraps, or bbq brisket sandwiches. Afterwards you can wash everything down with all of the water in that Hydroflask that you still need to empty.

Terminal 5, near Gate M16

If you were frantically rushing to make an international flight only to realize it’s been pushed back two hours, you might need a moment to catch your breath and then have a drink. For the latter, head to Hub 51, which is fully equipped with a large bar, TVs, and plenty of seats. While they do have some okay burgers, sandwiches, and tacos, use this spot primarily for drinking, watching some sports, and commiserating with the 12 other people from your flight who had the same idea to post up there.

Terminal 5, near Gate M16

RJ Grunts is an offshoot of a longstanding Lincoln Park spot known for a massive salad bar. That salad bar didn’t make it past the TSA checkpoint. Instead, the “Burgers and Fries” in the name (and the smell of grilled meat) make it clear what you’re here for. But if you’re already sad that you’re leaving the greatest city ever, you can also cry into a Chicago-style hot dog while you wait at your gate. Salty teardrops are still better than ketchup.

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photo credit: Chicago Department Of Aviation

Where To Eat At O'Hare Airport image