The Best Places to Eat at Every LAX Terminal
Fuel up before you take off.
Whether you haven’t left LA since Q1 2020 or maybe you’ve been slowly but steadily getting that travel bug back, this summer is ready to fulfill your wanderlust dreams. And getting where you want to go might very well involve something called an airplane. You know, one of those metal tubes with wings that was a distant memory for a while there. Warning: Air travel is looking less glamorous than ever these days, with seriously limited food and beverage service. (So if you thought it was bad before, look out.) And while you could eat at home, pack a lunch, or stop at a bar on the way to down a reasonably priced beer, it’s probably just easiest to eat at the airport—not to mention could be your last chance to try some only-in-LA eateries. While some still remain temporarily or permanently closed, many others are re-opening along with the rest of LA. (Keep in mind LAX has implemented a mobile ordering system so that you can order food ahead at most terminals and pick it up or even have it delivered to your gate.) Below, you'll find the best of what’s available, according to terminal. So bon appetit and bon voyage.
Closest gate: 13
If you’re looking for something familiar, are craving BBQ chicken pizza, want a throwback to a high school date spot, or all of the above, CPK has got your pre-flight name on it. Choose from five different types of pies (including a margherita and that fabled chix version), but be warned that other than chips and drinks, there aren’t many options beyond pizza.
Closest gate: 15
This offshoot of the WeHo Irish pub-cum-sports bar is a solid sandwich spot with options including its signature short rib sliders, turkey wrap, chicken sliders, and breakfast sando on brioche. There’s also a proper bar with plenty of beer on top and an extensive whiskey selection.
Closest gate: 24A
The pilot program that landed at LAX last year is likely the wave of the future when it comes to fresh alternatives to awful (and now super sparse) airplane food. Travelers order off a menu of legit-sounding good-for-you fare from an app or online and then pick up their meals—packed up and ready for flight—at a kiosk within the Terminal 2 Dining Terrace. Options range from overnight steel-cut oats to a mezze bowl to fresh guac and chips to avocado toast. You can also add snackable stuff like bagged cauliflower pretzels and dark chocolate bars to bust out when you’re inevitably hungry again 45 minutes into your flight.
When you’ve got some time and are in search of an actual restaurant with stylish decor, an extensive food menu, and a curated wine list that isn’t going to leave you mad at the world that you somehow just spent $18 on a glass of Yellow Tail Chardonnay, this is your spot. You won’t find a ton of items reflecting the “sea” part of the name (which stems from the original Huntington Beach location) but you will find a fig-and-bacon flatbread, Wagyu burger, leche de tigre ceviche, and hanger steak. The wine list is almost exclusively California and if you want to celebrate your first post-COVID work trip by charging a $100 Cab to your expense account, go to town.
This one’s a customizable counter-service eatery that was once unique, but alas, you’ve seen a gazillion times by now. Still, it’s a good option for when you’re on-the-go (which is always at the airport). Choose bun or bowl, a beef, turkey, chicken, or vegan patty, and your cheese and then go to town on (free and unlimited!) toppings with the usual suspects along with coleslaw, tortilla strips and cranberries if you want to get crazy. If you’re too busy to figure it all out and just need to get to a phone charging station stat, you can select one their already-decided-for-you versions like the chili cheeseburger or chicken club.
If you can’t stomach one more $13 bacon-egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich served at every single outlet in the airport, you can mix up your morning meal with options like shrimp and grits, lobster-egg-and-avocado tacos and a smoked salmon-veggie-and-herb-topped bagel. Later in the day try the lobster roll or New England clam chowder -- unless you’re flying to New England. In that case, just wait until you get there.
Terminal 3 is currently closed while under construction.
If you’re interested in experiencing one of the city’s most classic French Dip sandwiches, head to the historic Downtown LA location that dates back to 1908. But if you need a French dip right now and happen to be at the airport, then yeah, this is your spot. There are also lots of good sides, including spicy garlic fries and bacon potato salad, and a variety of cocktails (like the signature Old Fashioned complete with proper garnishes), all in the spirit of the original venue’s Red Car Bar. The airport location has even recreated the iconic wood bar and its maroon stools.
Closest gate: 42B
The late, great chef and restaurateur Mark Peel changed the LA dining scene forever with Campanile, which he opened with then-spouse Nancy Silverton in the late 1980s. Though it shuttered nearly a decade ago, the name lives on at this LAX outpost where travelers can grab a protein wrap layered with pulled chicken, quinoa, farro, and arugula; a turkey cobb topped with candied pecans; or order breakfast dishes like a veggie frittata, chicken and waffles plate, and granola bowl, all complemented with an extensive spirits list. Hey, you’re on vacation.
Closest gate: 41
You probably already know about this bakery that does society good. It’s part of Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program that helps former gang members and formerly incarcerated people receive training and job skills. At the LAX location, you can get a sampling of its breads and baked goods via its menu of egg-and-cheese sandwiches on bagels and croissants, chicken wraps, paninis, and deli sandwiches on six-grain bread.
Ford’s Filling Station holds a special place in the hearts of those of us who were catting around Culver City way back before it was cool. Ben Ford’s big-deal gastropub truly did help catapult the area onto LA’s culinary radar a dozen or so years ago, and while that location (along with a short-lived DTLA one that came after it) is long gone, you can get a taste of Ford’s original menu at the airport outpost with signature stuff like the pub burger, crispy chicken sandwich on brioche, smoked pork taquitos, deviled eggs, bread pudding, and fresh-baked cookies to indulge in after you reach cruising altitude.
Closest gate: 56A
For Asian-fusion on the go, hit up this quick-service counter for hearty teriyaki and noodle bowls centered around roasted pork, chicken, or beef along with plates of crispy chicken katsu, a spicy edamame-laced chicken Caesar and a crispy pork sandwich smeared with dynamite sauce. There’s also a small offering of sake by the bottle in addition to beer, cocktails, and wine.
You can skip the greasy breakfast in favor of a good-for-you smoothie at this national health-food store chain that’s been around since the '70s. Order up a smoothie based on what you need (there’s a Muscle Up and a Slim Down so take your pick). Acai bowls are also an option here, and it’s a great spot to pick up grab-and-go stuff like wellness shots, vitamins, protein bars, and something called Libido Lift … just in case it’s going to be that kind of trip.
Closest gate: 65B
This gastropub partnered with local craft brewery Golden Road Brewing to bring you both beer and bar food before sending you on your merry way. Look for good stuff like a massive stacked burger with fries, fish tacos, a grilled salmon and veggie plate, and pesto grilled shrimp. If beer isn’t your thing, cocktails and wine freely flow here, too.
This more relaxed version of the swanky BOA Steakhouse is the place to hit when you want more elevated airport fare (especially if you have an expense account at your disposal). Think NY strip, petit filet with red wine butter, and the same signature stacked Chop Chop salad that’s served at the Santa Monica and West Hollywood restaurants. You can also expect gussied-up gourmet burgers (including a Beyond Meat vegan version) wraps, and sandwiches, as well as a thoroughly respectable wine list.
The good news is you’re just a terminal away from the pinnacle of LAX dining at Tom Bradley International terminal. The bad news is you’re in Terminal 8, and your options are lame and limited to mainly fast food like Carl’s Jr. and Panda Express. If you want a proper drink, you can get it here in addition to a range of food items like corn chowder, an ahi tuna salad, and veggie chili.
Closet gate: 38
While you can’t get the Santa Monica-based gastropub’s full menu at its LAX satellite location, you can get many of its healthier options including a superfood salad, a hummus and veggies combo, and a fruit cup along with lots of sandwich offerings. The space is notably stylish and in case there was any doubt the hanging-plant trend hasn’t reached all corners of the LA restaurant world, it’s even here at the airport.
The Great HallClosest gate: 148
This 15,000-square-foot dining and retail behemoth is one of the best things to come out of the billion-dollar-plus renovation that turned this terminal into one that actually looks like it belongs in an airport servicing the country’s second biggest city. Here you’ll find a lot of fast-casual versions of LA restaurants you know and love (or in some cases loved). Many, including brick-oven pizza go-to 800 Degrees and Chaya Sushi, are still temporarily shuttered but may very well return by the time you make your trip. In the meantime, you can grab tacos, tamales, and tortilla soup at the city’s last standing Border Grill; above-average sandwiches at Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack, and a glass of wine and pizzetta at the sleek Vino Volo. And don’t forget to pick up a little something from Gucci or Hermes afterwards.