Where To Eat At George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

Ditch the pre-packaged salad and stale pretzels—check out these spots instead.
interior bar of bam bam, with red and black seats and a black counter

photo credit: Chelsea Thomas

Gone are the days of boring, day-old airport egg salad wraps and whatever happens to tumble out of a vending machine. Enter: actual restaurants that are just as good, if not sometimes better, than those in the outside world. Whether you’re trapped in a holiday travel layover hellscape, arrive criminally early for a flight, or need more sustenance than in-flight snacks can provide, the food vendors at IAH airport can make a day of traveling a little less weary. These are the best spots to eat at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.


photo credit: Chelsea Thomas


IAH Airport

$$$$Perfect For:BreakfastBrunch
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Gate A7

Unlike the Midtown original, the line at The Breakfast Klub stays fairly short despite being right past the security line in Terminal A. Like the original, the fried chicken here tastes so good, it might make you want to pop a bottle of bubbles (yes, we saw someone do this). We hope you’re for ready for a long flight squeezed in a middle seat, ‘cause the food here will fill you up, and then some.

Gate A7

Mostly a large bar counter—great for anyone traveling solo—the local restaurant group-owned El Tiempo Cantina serves the usual Tex-Mex classics like frozen margs, fajitas, and salsa-smothered breakfast plates. Stay for a while or, like everyone else, take something to go and eat it awkwardly in your lap at your flight’s gate.

Gate A15

Mockingbird Distillery & Smokehouse is a long bar made up of solo travelers looking to grab a quick drink and barbecued meats stuffed in buns. Order the pulled pork sandwich with an extra side of tater tots, and if you’re waiting out a long layover, there’s always a bar seat open and cocktails made with Tito’s.

photo credit: Chelsea Thomas



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Gate A17

The original Cadillac Bar in Washington Heights has long been known for its killer margaritas, something the airport location also takes pretty seriously. Now owned by Landry’s (hey, Tilman), this spot not only offers exceptional service, especially for an airport, but you can also get absolutely massive plates of food here. We especially like the breakfast options, mostly because they have a lot of cheese.

Gate A26

We know you might not think you need a burger topped with a Philly cheesesteak and smothered onions between flights, but you would be wrong. The tiny outpost of Hubcap Grill—while the original Heights location closed, you can find other Hubcap Grills in Pearland and Galveston—in Terminal A offers this addictive Frankensteined burger that we would possibly square up to someone over. Order up a milkshake or a beer on the side and indulge.

Gate C5

If the Flintstones built a house from bamboo and the color red, it would sort of look like Bam Bam. The Vietnamese-Korean-Cajun restaurant serves brisket fried rice, bulgogi fries, perfectly fine fried chicken sandwiches, and a lot of booze from its semi-futuristic mega-hut in Terminal C. Bam Bam is a great place to find some privacy in a deep set booth with either a laptop or, if you’re lucky, a new whirlwind airport romance. 

Gate C42

If you need a grab-and-go slice while you scurry from terminal to terminal, swing by Pink’s Pizza. The local Houston pizza chain makes massive slices—seriously, one is an entire meal in and of  itself—and serves them in those cute little triangular to-go boxes.  There’s also a full bar and beer on tap if you can hang for a while.

Gate C34

In general, airports are sickeningly bright. Really, how much overhead lighting can the human mind take before your eyeballs start to sizzle? Enter El Premio Tex-Mex Bar & Grill. The restaurant feels delightfully dark despite being zig-zagged with a million multi-colored string lights. Let those peepers rest, then order a burger drenched in queso.

Gate C5

Despite being tiny, Pala pumps out some fairly stellar Italian food and Neapolitan pizza thanks to the folks behind The Heights’ neighborhood fave Coltivare. It’s hard to go wrong with meatballs swimming in red sauce or extra cheesy margherita pizzas. We also appreciate that this is food we wouldn’t be ashamed to pull out mid-flight.

Gate D12

Much like its predecessor, the Mexican restaurant Hugo’s in Montrose, this Hugo’s in Terminal D is kind of comically massive. And so is the menu. So once you’re done loading up on duty free booze, drop into Hugo’s for addictive chicken taquitos, tender carnitas, and fresh guacamole.

Gate E2

Opened by one of the Gatlin’s BBQ family members, the main location of Q in Terminal E resembles a massive copper still that just so happens to serve Texas-style barbecue. If you are stuck on a layover or forgot to grab some ‘cue while visiting Houston, then first ask yourself why that wasn’t a priority, and second settle in for a gut-busting meal at Q. Try a two-, three-, or even four-meat plate with a mess of sides, then take a really long walk.

Gate E11

Built into one of the most massive parts of Terminal E, Yume is absolutely impossible to miss, mostly because it’s like 100-feet tall. The restaurant has a ceiling thick with multi-colored lanterns, a huge wall with hand-waving money cats, and two full bars, two dining areas, and even a grab-and-go station. If you need a quick sushi fix, a bowl of ginger-spiked ramen, or just a plate of very tasty cajun-spice-rubbed wings, go to Yume.

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