Food & Drink

What to Eat at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas

The Vegas airport has more than planes and slot machines.

McCarran International Airport
Photo courtesy of McCarran International Airport

Anyone who's flown into Las Vegas knows that McCarran International is one of the most convenient airports in the world. Rather than being a city with an airport, Vegas almost feels like an airport with a city built around it. McCarran is right next to the Strip, making it easy and accessible to the hotels, restaurants, and attractions that everyone loves in Sin City. 

But as can be expected, things are a little quiet at the airport these days. The reduction in travel due to COVID-19 has prompted some dining options to temporarily close—including all of Concourse E and those affected by a large renovation project in Concourse C (Might as well get some work done during the downtime, right?).

So what does this mean for you when traveling in and out of Las Vegas? We've put together a guide to let you know about the best places to grab a bite in between flights. Keep in mind, eateries can close or (re)open at a moment's notice so check in with the airport's interactive map for the latest hours and operating information. By the way, if you're wondering why there's a Terminal 1 and 3, but no Terminal 2, that's just the way things turned out (Roll with it).

TERMINAL 1

CONCOURSE A

Siegel's Bagelmania
Siegel's Bagelmania may be a New York-style deli, but it's a born-and-raised Las Vegas original. More than 30 years after opening east of the Strip, the family-owned business now has a second location at the airport, where you can get your fix for a lox-and-bagel and as many black-and-white cookies as you like. Sandwiches include a grilled Rueben with a choice of pastrami, corned beef, or turkey and the Yiddish Bird, which combines turkey and bacon with chive cream cheese and sprouts.     

Moe's Southwest Grill
Yeah, it's a chain, but worth noting because the airport has the only Moe's in Las Vegas (we're more of a Chipotle kind of town). Loyal fans of the brand might even be willing to endure a TSA security check to get their hands on burrito bowls made with relatively healthy ingredients, plus a new breakfast menu to explore.

The B Lounge
The "B" stands for Budweiser, which is pretty much what you get along with a few other drafts, a basic spirits selection, and some prepackaged food items. It's really your only choice for booze and to catch a big game on TV in the A concourse. 

PGA Tour Grill
Photo courtesy of McCarran International Airport

Terminal 1

CONCOURSE B

PGA Tour Grill
This airport staple is a familiar sight to frequent flyers. Is it fine dining? Not by any means. Is it a place where you can sit down and have a meal? Yes. It's also the only "regular" restaurant in the B concourse. The omelettes and burgers will hold you over until your next flight boards, and the Impossible Burger is available for vegans. The pizzas are a mixed bag, so we recommend sticking with the grilled chicken pesto. You also have a larger-than-expected lineup of beer and wine, which come in six- or nine-ounce servings, so don't expect a heavy pour. While a newer and nicer version of the PGA Tour Grill is temporarily closed in Terminal 3, this one is still around—and the best restaurant you'll find near the B gates.

360 Gourmet Burrito
The closest you'll come to Mexican street food at the airport, but that's almost an insult to street food. If you’re desperate for something to put in your belly, you'll probably be fine with one of five food court-quality burrito/burrito bowl combinations on the menu. Otherwise, if you have time before your flight, it's worth the walk to Concourse A for Moe's.

Terminal 1

A&B ROTUNDA

Shake Shack
Shake Shack is one of the newest dining spots at McCarran. The standalone fast food joint is positioned right between the A and B gates with an art deco design patterned after the burger chain's original location in New York. Pretty much everything you'd expect is on the menu, including frozen custard shakes and ShackBurgers made with the company's own distinct ground beef blend and served on buttery potato buns. Show up early and you'll get a full lineup of breakfast sandwiches.   

Jimmy John's
Another recent addition to the airport, this particular Jimmy John's is on the small side, but easy to notice, thanks to the smell of fresh-baked bread making its way through the A and B concourses. Whether it's the BLT or Turkey Tom, there's something on the menu to do the trick. The only downside—no Little John sandwiches here, although the ultra-customer-friendly Freaky Fast Rewards system is in effect. Easily the best sandwich spot in the airport. Sorry Port of Subs. Sorry
Jersey Mike's.  

Other Options in Concourse A/B: Burger King, Cinnabon, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Fresh Attractions, Freshens Frozen Smoothie Company, Jamba Juice, Mrs. Fields, Port of Subs, PretzelMaker, Red Star Lounge, Starbucks, Stella Artois Bar, TCBY, and Vienna Beef.

Temporarily Closed in Concourse A/B: Great Steak & Potato Company, Sprinkles Cupcakes 

sprinkles
Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Terminal 1

CONCOURSE C 

Ethel M Chocolates
Finally, something local at the airport to sink your teeth into. Ethel M Chocolates are made in Henderson with quality ingredients, nothing artificial, and a clean taste that's a welcome alternative to all those other candy bars at the newsstand. This is basically a gift shop. Mix and match your own individual pieces from a display window or grab a pre-packaged variety box. Ethel M can also be found in Concourses D while another remains closed by the E gates.  

Sprinkles
Sprinkles closed its Strip location a few years ago, but you can still wolf down their cupcakes at the airport. The California chain has vending machines—known affectionately as "cupcake ATMs"—by the C and D gates (others in the A and E concourses are temporarily out of action). They operate 24 hours, offering a much-needed sugar buzz for redeye travelers when most restaurants close overnight. Despite the format, the cupcakes are fresh and just as good as what you'd find in a regular Sprinkles store. Go with the Red Velvet. It's the best five bucks you'll spend at McCarran. 

Other Options in Concourse C: Burger King, Crafted Bar, Jamba Juice  

Temporarily Closed: Auntie Anne's, Barney's Lounge, Brookwood Farms BBQ, Corcoran's Irish Pub, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Fresh Attractions, Fresh Market On The Go, Great American Bagel & Bakery, Jersey Mike's Subs, Jose Cuervo Taquileria, LAS MKT, Lucky Streak Lounge, Nathan's Famous, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Popeyes Louisiana Chicken, Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill, Starbucks, Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen, and Wendy's

Terminal 1/Terminal 3

CONCOURSE D

Jamba Juice
Are the D gates part of Terminal 1 or Terminal 3? It kinda depends on where you check in. Here's what's important: the food is a significant step-up from older parts of the airport. We're singling out Jamba Juice—even though it's a familiar chain—since it's the first thing you'll notice after taking the long escalator up to the D concourse from the tram. The shakes and bowls always taste good, the fruit is always fresh, and the staff knows how to keep the line moving along. A welcome sight before an early morning flight. Jamba Juice is also in Concourse C and just past the A/B checkpoint. 

Rachel's Kitchen
We have a soft spot for Rachel's Kitchen, a local Las Vegas chain where everything is based on fresh, vibrant ingredients. The airport location is basically a grab-and-go version of the concept. As far as pre-made sandwiches and salads go, these are by far the best in the airport. You can also order up smoothies and juices made fresh on the spot. Watermelon juice all by itself is pretty awesome—and a good way to hydrate after a long flight.   

Ruby's Dinette
A sit-down restaurant with a modest 1950s diner theme, rounded out with a jukebox and thick milkshakes that require a spoon to finish off. Pay at the counter and hang around until the food is brought to your table. Fair warning: it can take a few minutes. Burgers are made fresh on the grill and the cooked-to-order fries are a nice change of pace from the fast food alternatives. A separate bar area is adults-only, allowing you to sip on that airport-quality Old Fashioned without children screaming in your face.  

Wolfgang Puck Express
The closest you'll come in the airport to experiencing Vegas' fondness for celebrity chef culture, even if it's pretty much in name only. This place isn't Spago, but probably the only McCarran restaurant with butternut squash soup, kale and quinoa salad, or gluten-free fennel sausage pizza. The Wolfgang Puck brand of wines are also better than what you'll find at the average airport bar. Whether sitting down in the dining room or grabbing food to go, this is definitely near the top of the list. 

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza & Grill
Sammy's Woodfired Pizza is a regional chain with a strong presence in both Nevada and California. As the name implies, pizzas are the big draw here, along with kobe burgers that don't quite taste "kobe," salads, and wraps. Definitely on the higher end of choices at the airport but between Sammy's and Wolfgang Puck, there's almost too many options for pizza by the D gates (especially when the sorely missed Metro Pizza reopens).

Burke in the Box 
This quick-casual concept by David Burke doesn't feel like it has anything to do with a celebrity chef. It's rather routine, especially now that the dining room is temporarily closed while the bar remains open. Still—the breakfast platter exceeds expectations. Only get a sandwich if it comes with a pretzel bun. The adjacent "On the Fly" to-go counter has little in common with the regular restaurant menu, but I guess you gotta buy bottled water somewhere.  

The Club LAS
We're hesitant to mention airport lounges due to their exclusive nature, but happy to make an exception for The Club at LAS, which has upgraded its menu in a big way. Highlights include scrambled egg frittatas and vanilla-infused french toast for breakfast and mango bruschetta and coconut curry chicken for lunch and dinner. The lounge, which has comfy furniture and workstations is open to anyone with a flat-rate pass of $45 (with a discount for AAA members). A reasonable deal considering it includes unlimited beer, wine, and spirits in addition to all that food. A second version of The Club LAS is temporarily closed by the E gates in Terminal 3. 

Other Options in Concourse D: Auntie Anne's, Burger King, California Pizza Kitchen, Great American Bagel & Bakery, Mrs. Fields, Port of Subs, Quiznos, Red Mango, Stella Artois Bar, and TCBY

Temporarily Closed: Baja Fresh Express, Cinnabon, Chili's, Estrella Jalisco Bar, Fresh Attractions, Metro Pizza, and Starbucks    

Terminal 3

CONCOURSE E 

All Restaurants are Temporarily Closed in Concourse E: Burger King, Carl's Jr., Ciao Gourmet Market, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, La Tapenade Mediterranean Grill, Las Vegas Chophouse & Brewery, The Local (bar), Pei Wei Asian Diner, PGA Tour Grill, Starbucks, and Village Pub

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas for Thrillist for five years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Leafly, Supercall, Modern Luxury, and Luxury Estates International's seasonal publication. He just eats pretzels on the plane. Follow him on Twitter.