This isn’t your parents’ airport dining. Times have changed. As for the world’s busiest airport, they’ve stepped it up quite a bit. They’ve even incorporated several of the restaurants in the city into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport itself, so you can eat like a local even if you never leave the airport. Read on for the best suggestions on where to dine when you fly, whether it’s before or after you’ve passed through security.1. Atlanta Chop House
Sending a friend to the airport or need an upscale spot pre-security for a meal? Look no further than the Atlanta Chophouse. The two-story restaurant features a welcoming bar for those flying solo, but there are plenty of booths, tables and even a private room upstairs should you have a business meeting. Don’t visit without getting the buffalo shrimp starter.2. Ecco
What if you’re beyond security and have some time to kill before your flight? Head over to Ecco and the time will fly by (pun intended) at this second location of the immensely popular midtown hot spot. Charcuterie? Short rib stuffed peppers? Fried goat cheese? Ecco features all of these plus exquisite hand-made cocktails. 3. El Taco
Almost every study reveals Mexican is the preferred cuisine of choice. If you are one of the many travelers that needs a spicy fix while at the airport, head on over to Ecco’s sister restaurant, El Taco. Need some in the AM? They are open for breakfast, too. 4. The Pecan
Hankering for some tried and true Southern favorites? Stop by The Pecan for shrimp ‘n grits or chicken & waffles. The rich and creamy grits and plump shrimp are a match made in heaven. Slather that syrup all around the chicken and waffles. You know you want to indulge. But don’t leave without sampling the namesake – pecan pie. 5. The Varsity
“What’ll ya have?” This phrase will forever be associated with the iconic fast food restaurant located in Downtown Atlanta. Go for the chili dog and onion rings (my personal go-to meal whenever I’m at The Varsity), then wash it all down with an Orange Shake.
The majority of these restaurants are located in the new international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The terminal is noticeably brighter and more modern than its other terminal counterparts. It is definitely worth the short ride on the train to the new concourse to dine if time allows.
Malika Bowling is the author of Food Lovers' Guide to Atlanta and founder of Atlanta Restaurant Blog. She has been a contributing writer to USA Today and Urbanspoon and has been featured on the Huffington Post. Malika also has served as a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals, including Taste of Atlanta. She is the president of the Association of Food Bloggers and you can follow her on twitter @ATLEatsNTweets and on Instagram @malika_bowling.