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