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The Best Places to Eat in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport

The Best Places to Eat in Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport
Mariel Loveland

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport isn’t just famous for its cameo in Due Date or Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip. It’s also the busiest airport in the world. Every year, 100 million passengers queue up in security, shuffle through the crowded terminals, and likely get a little hungry.

Thankfully, Hartsfield-Jackson has evolved past the sad airport food courts that make us internally sob during our flight delays. Among the Shake Shacks, Buffalo Wild Wings and Chipotles, this massive airport has a hard focus on southern cuisine that the locals know and love.

Image Source: One Flew South

One Flew South

It’s not too often that you’ll hear the words “upscale” and “airport food” in the same sentence unless, of course, you’re saying “this airport food is not upscale,” but the lack of fine dining options in airports across America doesn’t even make sense. If first-class lounges exist, don’t you think we all deserve a little bit more than a stale doughnut from an airport kiosk?

While none of us budget travelers over here are particularly above binging on McDonald’s after sneaking our way into a member’s only lounge (or maybe you are, I don’t know), Hartsfield-Jackson actually has options if you want to take yourself out for a nice, pre-flight meal. One Flew South—with its glowing 4.5-star rating on Yelp—is undoubtedly the best restaurant in the airport or quite possibly any airport.

This upscale, James Beard-nominated eatery was the first of its kind in Hartsfield-Jackson and marked a change from the airport’s regular chain and fast-food offerings. Here, you can sip on craft cocktails and dine on regional cuisine—like pulled duck sandwiches and pork belly sliders—or sushi. Yes, airport sushi. Who would’ve thought?

One Flew South is located in Concourse E, E Centerpoint.

Image Source: Chicken + Beer

Chicken + Beer

It’s time to pull a seat up to the bar and pray to the patron saint of the Fast & Furious franchise. No, not Vin Diesel. The other one. Ludacris is responsible for what’s arguably the best southern-inspired chicken spot in Hartsfield-Jackson, and he named it after his 2003 album.

Chicken + Beer is as simple as it sounds. It serves both of its namesake menu items, but this isn’t some ersatz KFC. The proof of this restaurant’s quality is in the pudding (or grits because it doesn’t actually serve pudding). To launch his James Beard-nominated eatery, the Atlanta-based rapper teamed up with the same company that developed One Flew South. Some of the southern-inspired menu’s star offerings include the fried catfish sandwich, short rib macaroni and cheese, and Luda’s chicken and waffles with bourbon maple syrup.

Chicken + Beer is located in Level 2: Concourse D, Gate D5.

Image Source: Ecco

Ecco

If there was anywhere in Hartsfield-Jackson to relax with a glass of wine and some cheese, it’s Ecco. This airport eatery, which racked up four stars on Yelp, is an outpost of the eponymous popular Midtown restaurant and offers contemporary European cuisine like pasta, charcuterie, pizzas, and flatbreads. Go ahead and enjoy some P’tit Basque, Soppresatta, and gelato. Pretend you’re going to Europe instead of New Jersey.

Ecco is located in Concourse F, F Mezzanine.

Image Source: Varasano’s Pizzeria

Varasano’s Pizzeria

As a born and bred Jersey girl, I’m apt to say that Georgia might have some of the worst pizza known to pizza; however, Varasano’s is not that. In a transient world filled with Sbarro’s (a favorite of The Office’s Michael Scott and literally no one else), Varasano’s offerings resemble actual pizza. In fact, the Buckhead location was voted the best pizza in all of Atlanta, and it’s not hard to figure out why. Whether you’re ordering up a margherita di bufala personal pie or a simple salad, the ingredients are all-natural.

Varasano’s is located in Concourse A, A Centerpoint.

Image Source: Papi’s Cuban & Caribbean Grill

Papi’s Cuban & Caribbean Grill

With locations all over the city, Atlanta isn’t short on Papi’s, but this franchise is still based around a family recipe with a little sprinkle of the American dream (and can’t we all agree that’s something we desperately need). Owner Reynaldo “Rey” Regalado fled from Cuba with nothing but the clothes on his back and brought us what may just be the best Cuban sandwich in all of Atlanta. Why go for your average airport Five Guys when you can have tostones, empanadas and Cuban coffee?

Papi’s is located in Concourse T, Gate  T8.

Image Source: Bantam + Biddy

Bantam + Biddy

Bantam + Biddy brings southern diner fare to Hartsfield-Jackson. The airport outpost only opened in late 2019, but it serves the same local, free-range chicken of its predecessors. I’m going out on a limb and saying this is probably the only place in an airport where you can get an entire half chicken, but since it’s so new, it’s unclear if that’s part of the airport offerings. They did bring in a rotisserie in from France to offer a sort of best-of their regular menu.

At the very least, you can get a meatloaf dinner that one Yelp reviewer described as “not bland or boring,” which is really all you can hope for in a meatloaf. Another Yelper claimed Bantam + Biddy served the best biscuit they’ve ever had.

Bantam + Biddy is located in Concourse C, C Centerpoint.

Image Source: Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Picking the best burger in Hartsfield-Jackson is an impossible task. Everyone who’s ever encountered a true fast-food aficionado knows the debate between Five Guys and Shake Shack could actually cause someone to lose a limb (depending on how hungry we are). As a true ride or die for the New York chain (and yes, their French fries too), it deeply pains me to suggest that anyone go anywhere else, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t mention Grindhouse Killer Burgers.

This restaurant originally opened in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in 2009, and its namesake burger—which comes with American cheese, grilled onions, pickles, and Grindhouse sauce—is consistently ranked as one of the best in the city. Plus, they have crinkle-cut fries and veggie patties for all those vegetarians who struggle to find options while traveling.

Grindhouse Killer Burgers is located in:

  • Level 2: Concourse T, Gate T11
  • Level 2: Concourse D, Gate D30

Where is your favorite place to eat in Hartsfield-Jackson?

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. Dr.Ells

    February 10, 2020 at 11:54 pm

    If you are a “Jersey” woman, why would you mock your own state, by saying, “pretend you’re going to Europe instead of New Jersey”? Very rude.

  2. fotographer

    February 11, 2020 at 4:22 am

    wondering if the OP has eaten at any of these places?

  3. Barrheadlass

    February 12, 2020 at 2:43 am

    I ate recently at Ecco, and really enjoyed it.

  4. mrgreat

    February 12, 2020 at 7:17 am

    The Ropa Vieja at Papi’s is awesome.. been to the their location at T-gates several times. One Flew South is awesome. Had some sushi there,

  5. JamesLoughney

    February 14, 2020 at 4:32 am

    Did the author of this puff receive any benefit or compensation from the restaurants, either directly or indirectly, for writing these reviews?

    Try the Belgian Beer bar in the International terminal, if you want a nice liquid lunch!

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