Travel

Where to Eat and Drink at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta

A lot has changed.

Maynard H Jackson Jr terminal
Maynard H Jackson Jr terminal | TasfotoNL/Shutterstock
Maynard H Jackson Jr terminal | TasfotoNL/Shutterstock

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered the landscape of 2020, and travel is no exception. Airlines have implemented several health and safety guidelines, but airport traffic has still been calmer than usual as many concerned travelers have avoided traveling by air altogether. Yet people want to reconnect with family members who they’ve had to be distanced from all year, so naturally travelers are more confidently heading back to the skies. 

As a result, your next trip to Hartsfield Jackson is probably going to look extremely different. Several restaurants inspired by Atlanta’s favorite eateries have temporarily closed, leaving chains to dominate the food and drink options. But don’t worry, we’ve got a guide to the best restaurants that are still open at the city’s beloved airport. For the most up-to-date information on Hartsfield Jackson, visit the ATL SkyPointe website, and remember to be as safe as possible when traveling. Sport your favorite masks and continue to social distance. If you have recently come in contact with anyone displaying COVID-19 symptoms, get tested before you fly.

CONCOURSE T

Papi’s Caribbean Cafe

Closest gate: T8
From Havana to Atlanta, you can experience authentic Cuban food day or night in the T Concourse. Papi’s has locations around the city, named for owner Reynaldo "Rey" Regalado’s late father. Their expanded airport menu includes fish tacos, empanadas, and strong Cuban coffee. But be sure to try the tostones and the all important Cuban sandwich.

CONCOURSE A

Piece of Cake

Closest gate: A Center
Maybe you’re not super hungry, and all that you need to get you through your flight is a sweet treat. In that case, it’s crucial to have Piece of Cake on your radar. With locations spread across the city from Alpharetta to Camp Creek, this restaurant has earned the reputation as one of Atlanta’s favorite spots for gourmet desserts. Next time you’re traveling with a sweet tooth, be sure to grab slices of layered cake, shortbread cookies, or a cupcake (or two).
 

Tap Gastropub

Closest gate: A3
The gastropub is now the only location after the Peachtree Street location closed in 2018. But some of their best dishes live on, including the pub burger, which tastes like a classier version of Wendy’s, and Cowgirl Creamery grilled cheese sandwich. Tap boasts a full bar that includes craft beer, wine, and cocktails, and it’s also a great stop if you’re  searching for a different take on breakfast.
 

Varasano’s Pizzeria

Closest gate: A Center
You don’t have to put up with Sbarro anymore as Atlanta’s best pizzeria has a location in the airport. These pies use sourdough yeast dough baked thin with fresh toppings straight from the motherland. Nana’s house specialty pie has their secret mixture of herbs and fresh mozzarella on a crispy crust. Pair with local draft beer from Three Taverns as you listen to live jazz tunes from the piano bar or watch the incoming flights from the windows. 

CONCOURSE B

Paschal’s

Closest gate: B Center
There’s fried chicken and then there’s Paschal’s. Civil Rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. planned marches at the Castleberry Hill location. You won't find the history here, but you can get stellar Southern dishes, including the best fried chicken in the city, along with breakfast. It’s been a staple since 1979 and is one of the longest-running airport vendors.
 

Willy’s Mexicana Grill

Closest gate: B Center
While we all patiently await the reopening of The Original El Taco in Concourse C, travelers searching for great Georgia-made Mexican food can let out a collective sigh because Willy’s is back in business at Hartsfield Jackson. You can build your own burrito, tacos, quesadilla, nachos, and salad with proteins such as their mouth-watering red chili adobo chicken, perfectly grilled steak, and Sinaolan tofu. Plus, if you’re traveling to see family for Thanksgiving and a past or present member of the military, you get 20% off your meal.
 

Sweetwater Last Cast Bar & Grill

Closest gate: B31
If you’re leaving Atlanta for the holidays but want one sip of locally brewed beer, then enjoy one at Sweetwater Last Cast Bar & Grill, a bar in Concourse B that offers quick eats (with a surprisingly appealing hot breakfast menu) alongside some of the brewery’s most popular beers. Expect 420, Goin’ Coastal, and other favorites to be on tap, but don’t hesitate to ask your server for any special seasonal brews.

CONCOURSE C

Chick-fil-A

Closest gate: C Center, additional location at A Center (Concourse A Hours: 6am-9pm)
Much of our favorite local restaurants in Concourse C are unfortunately still closed, so we can’t  mention eating in this terminal without including Chick-fil-A. The nationwide chain and all-around institution has its headquarters in College Park (the neighborhood where the airport is) and first opened in Greenbriar Mall in 1967. If you didn’t find your way into one of the locations around the city, you can pick up famous waffle fries on the way to your gate.

CONCOURSE D

Chicken + Beer

Closest gate: D5
Forget that Popeye’s chicken sandwich. The chicken sandwich at the Ludacris-owned restaurant is where it’s at. Named for his 2003 album, the menu has plenty of both items. The Cajun boiled peanut hummus and shrimp and grits are also favorites. The company that partnered with Luda on this Southern-style eatery also runs One Flew South, so you know it’s good. They also have a great selection of Georgia craft beer, served in pints and flights. 
 

The Market by Food & Wine

Closest gate: D Center
Formerly the Food Network Kitchen, the Market by Food & Wine has dishes inspired by surroundings like the Big Peach sandwich (on bread by Holeman + Finch) and Buford Highway-inspired pho. Grab them to go or stay and enjoy a coffee, local beer, or glass of American wine. 
 

Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Closest gate: D30
Skip the overpriced menu at Five Guys for a burger chain inspired by grindhouse films. Grindhouse Killer Burgers is a local success story, growing from their stall at the historic Sweet Auburn Curb Market to five brick-and-mortar locations and two more at the airport. Their griddle-cooked burgers come in beef, turkey, and veggie varieties on potato buns with their signature sauce. Insiders know that it’s great for breakfast, offering breakfast sandwiches, burritos, and avocado toast.

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Joshua Robinson is an Atlanta-based contributor for Thrillist, who is already plotting a December getaway via the skies. Follow him on Instagram at @roshjobin.