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The Best Restaurants at Los Angeles International Airport

By Harriet Baskas

01.30.19

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Taqueria chain Trejo's Tacos is located in Terminal 1 of Los Angeles International Airport.

Photo by Harriet Baskas

Taqueria chain Trejo's Tacos is located in Terminal 1 of Los Angeles International Airport.

Whether you want one last great meal before leaving the city or you're looking for comforting food on a long layover, there are plenty of places worth seeking out in LAX.

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It wasn’t that long ago that the dining options in some terminals at Los Angeles International Airport were so meager that the airport encouraged passengers to travel between terminals so they could find something decent to eat.

Thankfully, that’s no longer necessary. After an extensive makeover and major upgrades (some of which are still ongoing), LAX travelers now have more food choices, from sit-down restaurants to food courts, right near their gates. And the terminals on the south side of airport—terminals 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and the Tom Bradley International Terminal—are now connected post-security, so walking between terminals for a great meal is even easier.

On the airport’s north side, passengers in terminals 1, 2, and 3 can still only access the airside of their own terminals post-security. But once the north side airport modernization project is completed in 2023, all terminals will be connected after the security checkpoint.

Here are some suggestions for where to find the best meals in each terminal. Keep in mind that menus and venues can change, so it’s best to check the LAX website for the latest list.

Terminal 1 (Southwest Airlines)

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Southwest Airlines passengers benefit from the recent curb-to-gate renovation of Terminal 1 with dining options that include shiny new branches of L.A.–based Trejo’s Tacos (the taqueria chain from actor Danny Trejo), Cassell’s Hamburgers (known for its craft burgers and beloved homemade mayonnaise), and Beaming café (cold-pressed juices, superfoods, and smoothies). There’s also Urth Caffe & Bar, which serves organic coffees and teas, plus salads, soups, and sandwiches made with local, sustainable, and organic ingredients.

Terminal 2 (Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, others)

SeaLegs Wine Bar in Terminal 2 of the Los Angeles International Airport
Fast-casual seafood restaurant Slapfish is here, with signature menu items that include the Clobster Grilled Cheese sandwich (made with lobster, crab, and creamy herb sauce), lobster rolls, and fish-and-chips. Built serves customizable beef, turkey, and veggie burgers; Pick Up Stix, fast Asian comfort food. There’s a long wine list at SeaLegs Wine Bar, including some pours that will set you back more than $100 a glass—but don’t overlook the food items, including flatbreads, salads, burgers, sandwiches, stinky fries (covered with three-cheese garlic fondue), and chianti chicken tacos.

Terminal 3 (Delta Air Lines)

La Familia in Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles International Airport
In Terminal 3, health-conscious eaters can grab fruit smoothies, wraps, and sandwiches at Earthbar, or take a seat at The Parlor gastropub, which has a quinoa and kale-based Superfood Salad on the menu alongside tuna, turkey, and chicken BLT sandwiches. Terminal 3 is also home to the LAX outpost of the popular Shake Shack, which sells burgers, custards, and breakfast sandwiches; and La Familia, with large Latin fusion dishes and more than 80 different tequilas.

Tom Bradley International Terminal/TBIT (Multiple international airlines)

You’ll find classic airport fast food and fast-casual chains here, from Panda Express and Umami Burger to P.F. Chang’s. But there are also some standouts, including L.A.-based Lamill Coffee and the decadent Petrossian Caviar and Champagne Bar. Ink.sack serves creative, made-to-order banh mi and other sandwiches; the Border Grill has bowls, burritos, tacos, and other modern Mexican dishes, and 800 Degrees Pizza makes Neapolitan-style pizza in a wood-burning oven. James’ Beach charms travelers with American comfort food that has a Venice Beach vibe, including favorites such as truffle fries, grilled mahimahi tacos, rotisserie chicken, and plenty of cocktails. For dessert, head to the Vanilla Bake Shop for cupcakes, macarons, cookies, and pastries, or to Treat Me Sweet for candy to snack on during your flight.

Terminal 4 (American Airlines)

Homeboy Café is known for its super-fat wraps, freshly squeezed orange juice, sandwiches, and chocolate chip cookies. Proceeds from sales go toward L.A.’s Homeboy Industries, which supports former gang members and the formerly incarcerated. Cole’s, the historic saloon-style venue in downtown L.A. that claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich, has an outpost in the food court here—heat lovers should go for the spicy garlic fries and the super-spicy Atomic Pickles. And in addition to grilled Hawaiian mahimahi tacos and oak-roasted salmon, the menu at Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza and Grill includes an arugula, prosciutto, and pear pizza, and one made with smoked Gouda and four other cheeses.

Terminal 5 (Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Frontier, Hawaiian Air, JetBlue, others)

Lemonade in Terminal 5 of the Los Angeles International Airport
Farmers Market to Go is a food court with a kombucha bar, Bennetts ice cream, and treats for traveling pups at the Dog Bakery. Ford’s Filling Station serves burgers, pulled pork, grilled cheese sandwiches, and a breakfast pizza with sunny-side up eggs, applewood smoked bacon, ranchero salsa, Cotija cheese, and arugula. And there are tons of options at Lemonade, which has fresh Southern California–inspired comfort food, including healthy salads, sandwiches, poke bowls, and more. Drinks include a colorful array of seasonal lemonades, with flavors like lavender elderflower and blood orange; pick up a whoopie pie–size macaron for dessert.

Terminal 6 (Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, others)

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Osteria, by celebrity chef Fabio Vivani, serves steak and eggs all day, along with favorites like the Osteria Burger (with caramelized onions, cheddar, and roasted garlic mayo), the meatless Impossible Burger, truffle potato skins, and fried calamari. The casual Point the Way Café serves flatbreads, sandwiches, and a nice selection of craft beers.

Terminal 7 (United Airlines/United Express)

Ashland Hill in Termianl 7 of the Los Angeles International Airport
Ashland Hill serves Intelligentsia-brand coffee as well as a tasty avocado toast and a gooey grilled cheese. The Lotería Grill is great for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and other Mexican dishes. And B Grill By Boa Steakhouse is the place to go for crab cakes Benedict or a steak and eggs breakfast, or sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and, of course, steak, later in the day.

Terminal 8 (United Airlines/United Express)

Engine Co. No. 28 in the Los Angeles International Airport
The LAX branch of Engine Co. No. 28 is decorated with photos of firefighters and serves a selection of classic American dishes from the downtown L.A. original, which is in a restored 1912 firehouse. The menu includes a filling vegetarian chili as well as a firehouse cobb salad and meat loaf. There’s a burger menu with options that range from classic to creative, including a Pimento Cheese Bacon-cado burger and a Dead Hippie burger, which comes with bacon, poached egg, blue cheese, avocado, and organic greens.

>>Next: Plan Your Trip with AFAR’s Guide to Los Angeles

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