The Best Places to Eat at Every LAX Terminal

Fuel up before you take off for holiday travel—you're going to need it.

There are many joys to be found in flying out of LA for the holidays, things like real winter weather, small-town charm, and your family back home—or, if you’re a native Angeleno, an escape from the family you have here. But before we get to any of that pleasantness, there is the necessary evil of LAX (unless you’re lucky enough to fly out of a different airport). LAX is crowded and complicated at the best of times, and it only gets more so as the holidays approach. But that doesn’t mean your experience there has to be miserable.

If you get to the airport early or have the bad luck of your flight getting delayed (all too common during this time of year), you may find yourself with an hour or two to kill in the terminals. Luckily, there are plenty of decent to surprisingly good options to get something in your stomach before you board, including satellite outposts of some very solid LA staples. We’ve put together a list of our favorite spots to fuel up at in the airport, organized by terminal, to help you make it to your destination in one piece:

Reilly’s Irish Pub at LAX
LAX Shop & Dine

Terminal 1

Reilly’s Irish Pub
Closest gate: 15
This offshoot of the WeHo Irish pub and sports bar is a solid sandwich spot with options like a Short Rib Grilled Cheese, Grilled Chicken Sliders, a Turkey Wrap, and a breakfast sando on brioche. Want to go the salad route? They’ve got you covered with a loaded Chicken Cobb or the Quinoa and Kale Superfood Salad. There’s also a proper bar with plenty of beer on tap—including sampler flight offerings—and a rather impressive whiskey selection.

California Pizza Kitchen
California Pizza Kitchen

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 marg pepperoni and that fabled BBQ chicken version), If you don’t want pizza, you hopefully are a fan of poultry, as the other options are mainly a few chicken-topped salads, a chicken avocado club, and a turkey and brie sandwich, with several items available for grab and go.

LAX Shop & Dine
LAX Shop & Dine

Terminal 2

Closest gate: 23A
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 and Egg Tacos and a Smoked Salmon 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.

Closest gate: 24A 
The pilot program that landed at LAX in 2020 is the wave of the future when it comes to fresh alternatives to awful airplane food. Travelers order off a menu of 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 Warm Chickpea and Quinoa Grain Bowl to smoothies to Avocado Toast. You can also add snackable stuff like bagged cauliflower pretzels and chocolate-dipped macadamia nuts to bust out when you’re inevitably hungry 45 minutes into your flight.

Fish and vegetables at Native

Terminal 3

Native by Nyesha
Closest gate: 33
For now, the food options at the newly reopened Terminal 3 are a little sparse, but it’s already got one of your better bets in the airport—a new incarnation of chef Nyesha Arrington’s dearly departed Native. The LAX outpost features her Southern California perspective, incorporating multicultural influences in dishes like a Korean Fried Chicken Sandwich, Cauliflower Curry, and Heirloom Tomato Salad.

Terminal 4

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 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; and a veggie and hummus plate you can pair with a cocktail at the rather attractive bar.

Homeboy Bakery
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 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 you can customize with ham, turkey sausage, or bacon (and that are all actually under $10, hooray!), wraps, and deli sandwiches on six-grain bread.

Ford's Filling Station
Ford's Filling Station

Terminal 5

Ford’s Filling Station
Closest gate: 55A
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: 55A
The airport dining landscape is perennially heavy on carby stuff like sandwiches, burgers, and pizza, so the fresh-feeling Lemonade was a welcome change when it showed up several years back, with its mix-and-match protein plates, veggie-heavy sides, and poke bowls. After a COVID-induced shutter, the place reopened within the last year, though not with the extensive menu it once had. Still, you can find the signature Roasted Harissa Cauliflower and Snap Pea and Edamame sides to pair with Mango Chicken, or Red Miso Short Ribs.

Blu2o at LAX
LAX Shop & Dine

Terminal 6

Closest gate: 68A
Well-known LA chef and restaurateur David Myers’ space age-style eatery near the Alaska Airlines gates offers seafood-focused fare including a Poached Shrimp Salad with cucumber and arugula and Smoked Salmon Flatbread. The circular bar with groovy hanging light fixtures overhead is also a fine spot to get a pre-flight cocktail, but it’s the airport, so expect sky-high prices.


Closest gate: 64A
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 vitamins, supplements, protein bars, and wellness shots, including the brain booster—which you might want to save for your first day back at the office.

Terminal 7

B Grill by BOA Steakhouse
Closest gate: 73
Chances are you’re not going to get this place confused with the Santa Monica and WeHo locations as the menu has shifted from elevated steak and seafood entrees to more banal airport fare, but you can still get a few of the former, such as a filet mignon, brick chicken, and salmon entrees that come with veggies and mashed potatoes. Beyond that, expect burgers (including plant-based options), chicken tenders, and wraps.

Three Loteria tacos

Closest gate: 72B
20 years is a long time in the restaurant industry, and Loteria has taken many forms since its founding in 2002. At various points they’ve had a stand at the Original Farmers Market, a series of taquerias around town, a pop-up, and a catering operation, and though things have scaled back a little since their heyday, Loteria’s two LAX locations remain a boon for hungry travelers. Their menu of taqueria staples with Carne Deshebrada or carnitas is a reliable standby, and their vegetable taco and burrito options with fillings like squash and corn or potatoes and poblano peppers are a relief for vegetarian travelers.

Engine Co. No. 28
Paella | Engine Co. No. 28

Terminal 8

Engine Co. No. 28
Closest gate: 83
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 decent drink, you can get it here, in addition to a range of food items like Corn Chowder, an Ahi Tuna Salad, and Veggie Chili.

LAX Shop & Dine
LAX Shop & Dine

Ashland Hill
Closest 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.

800 Degrees Pizza at LAX
LAX Shop & Dine

Tom Bradley International Terminal

The Great Hall
Closest 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 largest city. Here you’ll find a lot of fast-casual versions of LA restaurants you know and love (or in some cases loved). Though several temporarily shuttered during the pandemic, most are back up and running, including Neapolitan brick-oven pizza go-to 800 Degrees and Chaya Sushi, offering lots of rolls and sashimi. You can also grab tacos, chile rellenos, and tortilla soup at the city’s last-standing Border Grill; and sandwiches galore at Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack. For one of the best wine lists at the airport (OK, the competition may not be all that steep, but still), sidle up to the sleek bar at Vino Volo, which also offers wine flights you can pair with pizzettas, cheese and charcuterie plates, bruschetta bites, and a smattering of salads. And don’t forget to pick up a little something from Gucci or Hermes afterwards.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Lizbeth Scordo is a food and lifestyle writer and yes, she will take the 9-ounce pour for three dollars more. Thanks for asking. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.
Ben Mesirow is an Echo Park native who writes TV, fiction, food, and sports. At one time or another, his writing has appeared in The LA TimesLitroMcSweeney’s Internet TendencyLos Angeles Magazine, and scratched into dozens of desks at Walter Reed Middle School.