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The Best Places to Eat in O’Hare International Airport

The Best Places to Eat in O’Hare International Airport
Mariel Loveland

Chicago’s O’Hare International is one of the busiest airports—if not the busiest airport—in America, and passengers have to eat somewhere. Though the bar is set so low with airport food that it’s basically in Hell right next to that delayed flight that might never actually come, ORD has been trying to raise the bar, especially when it comes to healthy, localized options.

Since Chicago cult favorite Portillo’s is inexplicably absent from O’Hare’s multitude of offerings, we’ve scoured Yelp for the next best thing—and surprisingly, none of the top bites include deep dish pizza or Chicago-style dogs.

Tortas Frontera

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Tortas Frontera

This Mexican spot from celebrity chef Rick Bayless isn’t a well-kept secret, but that’s really just a testament to how good it actually is. There’s a reason it’s found its way on numerous best-of airport food lists and racked up four stars on Yelp. It’s so much more than your typical, fried airport fare, and you won’t catch any rubbery meat heated under a warming lamp here. Even though it goes against everything we’ve come to know about airport food, the menu lists the very local farms where they source their meat and veggies. Who does that?!

Like the name suggests, Tortas Frontera’s menu includes a variety of tortas and moulettes, or warm, open-faced Mexican sandwiches. Flyers can enjoy a pre-flight, hand-shaken margarita while checking out the freshly-made guacamole bar (avocado is known to help reduce that painfully annoying, unavoidable in-flight bloat). If you’re in a rush or simply hate waiting on lines (Lord knows O’Hare has enough of them), you can actually order your meal on their website in advance and have it waiting for you the second you get out of security. It doesn’t get much more luxury than that.

Tortas Frontera is located at:

  • Terminal 1, B11
  • Terminal 3, K4
  • Terminal 5, M12

Only Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 support online ordering.

Farmer’s Fridge

Farmers Fridge/Instagram

Farmer’s Fridge

The vending machine trend might be huge in Japan, but it’s yet to really catch on as fiercely in the United States. Most Americans would think twice before getting a salad from the same place we typically buy Hot Cheetos, Twix Bars, and other snacks that are unlikely to expire this century, but Farmer’s Fridge really does go above and beyond in the realm of natural, fresh foods. They’ve got quick bites down to a science, and the 4.5-star rating on Yelp proves it.

The main draw of Farmer’s Fridge is that their handmade salads, yogurts, and grain bowls are packaged in travel-friendly jars that are perfect to grab before boarding if you want to avoid a sodium-packed, in-flight meal. The company has fridges all over Chicago (just in case you want a healthier fast food option during your visit) but the O’Hare vending machines are spread across the following locations:

  • Terminal 5
  • Terminal 3
  • Terminal 2
  • Terminal 1
  • The American Airlines Employee Lounge

Garrett Popcorn

Joel Kramer/Flickr

Garrett Popcorn

There are just some things you must try while you’re in Chicago: deep-dish pizza, Chicago-style hot dog, and Garrett Popcorn. This cult-favorite has a number of salty and sweet options that make for a great airport snack, but it’s best known for its mix of cheddar and caramel popcorn—a true midwestern delicacy that may seem as strange as a Koolicle to East Coasters.

A trip to Chicago isn’t complete without stopping at Garrett Popcorn, which is conveniently located in:

  • Terminal 1, B8
  • Terminal 3, H2
  • Terminal 5, M12

CIBO Express

CIBO Express

CIBO Express

CIBO Express isn’t just limited to O’Hare. The gourmet market has more than 100 locations in airports around the country, and the main draw is that they have a multitude of options for people with dietary restrictions including gluten-free, vegan meals, and kosher meals. Like you’d expect from any airport convenience store, the health-conscious sandwiches, wraps and salads are packaged to-go and ready to be taken on your flight.

CIBO Express, which maintains a Yelp rating between four and 4.5 stars, is located in:

  • Terminal 2-Main Hall
  • Terminal 3-H Concourse.

Publican Tavern

Lou Stejskal/Flickr

Publican Tavern

Publican Tavern doesn’t have the highest Yelp ratings, but considering the fact that most of O’Hare’s offerings fall below three stars, its 3.5 rating is decidedly not that bad for a place you can actually sit down and get a hot meal. Eater even rated it the second-best option in the entire airport, but it might be a true No. 1 for anyone who just wants to enjoy a cold one.

Publican Tavern, which is a smaller outpost of The Publican, a famed, Chicago-based, European-style beer hall, has 10 different beers on tap along with a variety of local craft bottles and cans. Make no mistake: this is pretty monumental for an airport pub. As far as food goes, you’re looking at your standard pub fare — but you can also enjoy locally-sourced options like roasted farm chicken, spicy pork rinds, and ribollita soup.

Publican Tavern is located at Terminal 3, K1.

View Comments (4)

4 Comments

  1. born sleepy

    January 22, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    The cochinita pibil torta at Frontera is the best thing in the entire airport. Just be careful with that glowing-orange habanero sauce that comes with it; that stuff is seriously hot and will possibly kill you if you just dump the whole container on the torta.

  2. c502cid

    January 22, 2020 at 6:09 pm

    I’m pretty fond of Saladworks( by C18 in the food court) if you want a good salad (you can build your own too!) with very fresh and varied ingredients too.

  3. unregistered1

    January 24, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Another salad place for health eaters is in terminal K (I think maybe H). It’s the smoothy place next to burrito beach

  4. fyree39

    February 12, 2020 at 6:10 am

    OMG, Saladworks! I’d never heard of such a thing and it really hit the spot. I usually plan on eating like crap on travel days. I was so happy to stumble upon this place.

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