The Best Restaurants At John F. Kennedy AirportWhere to find grab-and-go Turkish pastries, beer bars with great burgers, and more in each terminal.
Somehow, John F. Kennedy International Airport is now kind of worse than its Queens neighbor, LaGuardia—imagine saying that to a New Yorker a few years ago. And while there are still excellent things to eat, because of the constant construction, there’s a lot to navigate.
Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are about to be combined into one giant terminal, so lots of places are being phased out. Even though Terminal 4 is already the largest (and nicest) terminal at the airport, more expansion is coming there soon, too. Jetblue’s Terminal 5 has by far the best grab-and-go options, with an Artichoke Pizza that does incredible breakfast stromboli that make our morning flights less awful. The latter terminals are going to see massive upheaval in the upcoming months too—Terminal 7 will eventually be demolished after British Airways relocates to Terminal 8
Among all the airport construction and chaos, these are our favorite places to eat in every terminal, from quick-service food court options to bars and sit-down spots that are ideal for decompressing after getting through security.
Eat & Go
This casual counter is one of the better options in this terminal. Stick with the Turkish options, like the gozleme and boreks, for a quick and easy dinner before you get on the plane.
To Go & Sit Down
If you’re more in the mood for light bites and snacks, Jikji Cafe has a broad selection of turkey and cheese sandwiches and other things you can stash in your bag for your flight—hello panda cookies and boxed rolls of kimbap. If you have some time to kill before you board, they also serve udon and ramen for a warm comforting option.
Bklyn Beer Garden
If you want a space where you can relax and decompress in Terminal 2, come to Bklyn Beer Garden for a few pints you can order off an iPad. Enjoy the peace and some fries before you have to head to the gate and contend with people who refuse to gate-check their gigantic suitcases.
To Go & Sit Down
There are a few Shake Shack locations in JFK’s gargantuan Terminal Four, and they’re all consistent options if you’re looking for a decent burger. We’re big fans of their breakfast sandwiches, which feel even more special since they aren’t available at other Shake Shack locations across the country.
Blue Point Brewing Company
You can get a full meal, a beer, and a view of all the planes and baggage trucks driving around on the tarmac below at this gastropub in Terminal Four. Get the roasted cauliflower and quinoa salad, which gets tossed with grapes, toasted almonds, and citrus yogurt for the rare kind of healthy and memorable airport meal.
The Palm Bar & Grille
If your flight is delayed for a few hours, or if you just got to the airport early and want to go all out, order a steak at the Palm. Definitely get the NY strip steak, which is served with rich garlic mashed potatoes, and add on an order of the wild thyme and mushroom gnocchi with black truffle puree and parmesan.
Uptown Brasserie is a little further away from the main Terminal Four hub, but it’s a great option if you want to have a sit-down meal closer to your gate. You can see planes taxiing along the runways from their booths and tables, and you should consider ordering a Bloody Mary or mimosa for a little pre-trip celebration. The menu covers a lot of ground from breakfast plates to sandwiches and steaks, but the salmon with grilled asparagus, new potatoes, and warm lemon honey mustard is one of the best airport meals you can find anywhere.
Artichoke Basille's Pizza
Artichoke Pizza is basically a chain at this point, but it is one of the best options for pizza at the airport. The slices are quick to grab when you only have 20 minutes before boarding, and taste infinitely better than the cardboard with tomato sauce and cheese found elsewhere in the airport. Perhaps the best thing you can get here though is a breakfast stromboli, which is made with Artichoke’s pizza dough and stuffed with cheese, sausage, and vegetables. It makes for an ideal hangover cure if you took a cab from the club to the airport, or simply just want to make everyone at the gate within wafting distance jealous.
Besides Artichoke, H&H is the best place in the little food court right after you get through security. It’s our go-to move for a to-go sandwich, and you can customize it with different breads, meats, and cheeses. Yes, there is an option for extra pickles.
New York Sports Grill
Sit Down Since New York Sports Grill is slightly further away from most of the other Terminal Five restaurants, this sports bar gets a little less foot traffic, so it can be easier to snag a table during peak hours. It’s a solid spot to work at your laptop or watch a game before boarding starts, the tap list is long with options from local New York breweries, and the burger is pretty decent.
The Loft is a gastropub where you can order a long island iced tea and small bites like cheesesteak egg rolls on your table’s tablet. The chicken tenders are a safe bet, but our preferred strategy is to camp here, drink a mojito, and get some work done at a quieter back table before returning to the gate. We haven’t tried breakfast here, but the french toast and omelets seem promising if you just got in from a red eye or simply want something more substantial before you take off.
Bobby Van's Steakhouse
If you have a couple hours to spare at Terminal 8, it’s worth spending them in this classic steakhouse. Like their Manhattan locations, you can pick your choice of grill entree—we’re partial to the classic 16-ounce New York sirloin—but there’s also a variety of pastas, salads, and sides, too. As far as sit-down spots in Terminal 8 go, this is one of the nicer ones, where you can feel like you’re sipping cocktails in a fancy lounge without paying a premium for it.
These fridges are scattered throughout most terminals in New York City airports, and they’re surprisingly decent if you’re looking for a healthier option. The specific menu options change by location and day, but the elote salad and Thai noodle bowl are our favorites. Plus, the jar containers can pop easily into your carry-on bag if you want to take it all on your flight.