Dining on the Fly: Atlanta's Best Local Restaurants at the Airport

Eat at a homegrown Atlanta restaurant while waiting for your flight at Hartsfield Airport.
  • Freshens is the perfect place for delicious, healthy and fresh food.
    Freshens is the perfect place for delicious, healthy and fresh food.
  • At Varsano's, a picture could be worth a thousand words; or just one -- delicious.
    At Varsano's, a picture could be worth a thousand words; or just one -- delicious.
  • Actor/rapper Chris "Ludacris" Bridges can grab a bite at his own restaurant before leaving town.
    Actor/rapper Chris "Ludacris" Bridges can grab a bite at his own restaurant before leaving town.
  • Cafe Intermezzo is the perfect place to have a nice latte, enjoy a dessert or a variety of other delicious options.
    Cafe Intermezzo is the perfect place to have a nice latte, enjoy a dessert or a variety of other delicious options.
  • Open wide and enjoy the deliciousness of a Grindhouse Killer Burger. They are worth the stop -- so are the milkshakes.
    Open wide and enjoy the deliciousness of a Grindhouse Killer Burger. They are worth the stop -- so are the milkshakes.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is a busy one – in fact, the busiest in the world. You have a layover? So what? Enjoy yourself. Hartsfield offers a variety of eateries, but how about grabbing a bite at a homegrown Atlanta restaurant? If you want to eat local while waiting for your plane, here are some great ideas.

Atrium

  • We Juice It
    This Atlanta-based juice bar offers a variety of healthy options including cold-pressed smoothies made with organic and local produce. Add-ons include power shots, wheatgrass, chia, flax seeds and whey protein.

Concourse A

  • Atlanta Bread Company
    The Atlanta Bread Company started as a small sandwich shop in an an Atlanta suburb and quickly became a local favorite. The restaurant offers fresh, quality food including soups, sandwiches, paninis and bagels.

  • Atlanta Bread and Bar
    Atlanta Bread and Bar has a full-service bar and a menu that offers fresh and wholesome soups, sandwiches and paninis as well as a full-service breakfast, wings, burgers and grilled chicken sandwiches

  • Atlanta Hawks Highlight Factory
    If basketball is more your speed, dribble over to the Atlanta Hawks Highlight Factory to watch a game and enjoy cold brew and hot food.

  • Chick-fil-A
    Since 1964 Atlantans have loved a Chick-fil-A sandwich, which simply consists of a chicken patty with two pickles served on a toasted butter bun. Now the country is learning about the home of the original chicken sandwich. Chick-fil-A serves a whole variety of fresh, healthy and delicious food but you can't eat there on Sundays, when it's always closed.

  • Freshens Fresh Food Studio
    Freshens Fresh Food Studio started in Atlanta as a yogurt place and now, in addition to its fresh blended smoothies and frozen yogurt, Freshens serves delicious and healthy crepes, salads and rice bowls. Freshens’ motto is “Healthy Eating, Better Living.” The food is not only fresh but also healthy with ingredients that are gluten-free, have no antibiotics, no trans fats and include 30 vegetarian ingredients.

  • Goldberg’s Fine Foods
    Goldberg's Fine foods was started by a father and son who served six varieties of authentic New York-style bagels and one popular Po’ Boy sandwich. Since then, the restaurant has expanded its offerings to include breakfast, lunch and now dinner options, and bagels — 32 varieties. Not only can you find Goldberg’s bagels on Concourses A, E and T, but the eatery has partnered in the creation of the Atlanta Braves All-Star Grill at the airport and with The New York Times on Concourse E.

  • TAP
    Atlantans mourned the closing of TAP in Midtown, but the popular gastropub is now at the airport still serving delicious dishes and nice cold beer.

  • Varasano’s Pizzeria
    Jeff Varasano opened his first restaurant in Atlanta in 2009 and has since developed a cult following. Originally from the Bronx, Varasano’s pizzas feature a balance of Italian ingredients baked to crisp perfection in an 800-degree oven.

Concourse B

  • Cafe Intermezzo
    Cafe Intermezzo is a popular Atlanta-based coffee shop that introduced the European concept of coffee and wonderful, lush desserts. It has since expanded its menu to include soups, crepes, sandwiches salads, charcuterie platters and breakfast.

  • Paschal’s
    Taste a part of Atlanta history at Paschal’s, which became the place where key civil rights leaders and Atlanta’s power structure would meet over fried chicken and sweet tea. The owners often would post bond for arrested civil rights protesters and served as a central location where parents and friends could greet their loved ones after they were released from jail. We’re not sure if that makes the food taste any better, but it helps. The fried chicken is legendary, but we’d also recommend the catfish filet, slow-cooked St. Louis-style ribs and the fresh strawberry lemonade.

  • Proof of the Pudding
    Proof of the Pudding is Atlanta society’s go-to catering company. Proof of the Pudding opened a kiosk that sells gourmet food-on-the-go that features an array of prepacked meals including desserts, salads and sandwiches.

  • SweetWater Brewery’s Last Call
    SweetWater Brewing Co. is a craft brewery founded in 1997 in Atlanta, and it developed a strong fan base. In addition to the beer, the menu leans toward typical foods that pair well with beer — burgers, fries, pretzels, nachos and tacos. 

  • Freshens Fresh Food Studio (Check under Concourse A for description.)

Concourse C

  • Longhorn Steakhouse
    Founded in Atlanta, Longhorn Steakhouse is famous for its “legendary steaks” including the salt iron, Flo’s filet and the renegade sirloin. Longhorn’s tale is what legends are made of — but this one is true. Founder George McKerrow opened the first Longhorn in Atlanta, but  it hardly made a dent with the city’s dining crowd. But in 1982 a freak ice storm came through and stranded motorists up and down Peachtree Street. Only a few restaurants were open and Longhorn was one of them. The place was jammed packed with new fans trying to wait out the storm. It’s been hot ever since.

  • Original El Taco
    Originally opened in Atlanta’s historic Virginia-Highland neighborhood, the word quickly spread about the fresh Tex-Mex cuisine and perfect margaritas. Try the “Big Boss Burritos” or the pork carnitas tacos.

  • The Varsity
    There are few things more embedded in the hearts and souls of Atlantans than the Varsity. Now in its 90th year, the Varsity is where you celebrate Georgia Tech games, study for a test, come for a late night snack or just have a hankering for a naked dog, an F.O and a bag of rags (hot dog with nothing on it, a frosted orange and potato chips). Presidents, CEOs and the average Joe will always find a way to go to the Varsity and be asked “What’ll ya have?”

  • Atlanta Bread Company Chick-fil-A (Check under Concourse A for descriptions).

Concourse D

  • Atlanta Braves All Star Grill
    You don’t have to love the Atlanta Braves to enjoy the Braves All Star Grill, but it wouldn’t hurt. It’s more than a sports bar. Yes, there are lots -- and lots -- of television sets  but there is also great food such as Slugger Slides, Bullpen Drinks and Spring Training Soups.

  • Grindhouse Killer Burgers
    Grindhouse Killer Burgers served its first customer in 2009 at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market in downtown Atlanta. It quickly became a go-to place for great burgers in a fun and unique atmosphere. Grindhouse has a wall full of “Best in Atlanta” awards, and it is known for its hamburgers, veggie burgers and homemade brisket chili.

  • Terrapin Tap House
    Terrapin Beer is an Athens, Ga., brewery that not only caught the eye of Georgians but also of MillerCoors, which bought a majority stake in the company. The menu includes burgers, barbecue and other culinary delights. It is also one of the few restaurants at the airport that has a smoking area.

  • Chicken + Beer
    Atlanta is home to many celebrities and one of our most famous, actor-rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, has opened Chicken + Beer that serves Southern-style comfort food. Try the chicken and waffles; it’s worth flying to Atlanta just to order them.

  • Freshens Fresh Food Studio (check under Concourse A for description)

Concourse E

  • One Flew South
    Calling itself the first upscale dining experience at Hartsfield-Jackson, One Flew South serves “proper” cocktails, has an amazing sushi menu and offers take-away items. If you’re not in the mood for sushi, no problem. One Flew South offers items that will soothe your stomach and comfort you on a long trip, dishes such as chicken noodle soup, salmon hot pie and OF's Dirty South, which is an open-face meatloaf sandwich. Want something a little more exotic? Try the duck confit croquettes, thyme-roasted pork belly and Seoul burger.

  • Sojourner’s Cafe
    Sojourner’s offers a bit of everything — wings, barbecue and sandwiches. It also has a great to-go business.

  • Freshens Fresh Food Studio (Check under Concourse A for description.)

  • Goldberg's Fine Foods (Check under Concourse A for description.)

Concourse F

  • Ecco
    Midtown Atlanta’s award-winning restaurant is now located in the mezzanine of the International Terminal and serves delicious seasonal European cuisine that is matched with an extensive wine list. Among the menu items are ribolita soup, pan-roasted mussels, pizzas, squid ink linguine and grilled fennel-brined pork chops.

  • Sweet Auburn Curb Market
    Sweet Auburn Curb Market gets its name from the city’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, headquarters of the civil rights movement in Atlanta. The cafe offers freshly baked pastries and desserts as well as coffees from local purveyors, gourmet chocolates, sandwiches, soups and salads. Check out its charcuterie selections and cheeses that can be paired with beer from local microbreweries or wines.

  • El Taco (Check under Concourse C for description.) 

Concourse S

  • Shane’s Rib Shack
    Shane Thompson decided in 2002 to ditch his corporate job and follow his dream. He and his wife, Stacy, opened up the first Shack in McDonough using his grandfather’s (Big Dad’s) secret BBQ recipe. Try the BBQ ribs and chopped pork along with sweet potato fries and fried okra.

Concourse T

  • Goldberg's Fine Foods (Check under Concourse A for description.)

  • Grindhouse Killer Burgers (Check under Concourse D for description.)

If you're in town for longer and looking for great places to eat, we've got you covered.

Journalist Mary Welch writes business and lifestyle stories for local and national publications. 

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