Where to Eat and Drink at Miami International Airport
Upgrade your preflight routine with vegan cupcakes, gourmet burgers, artisan pizza, and more.
If airports are the first impression people get of your city, then Miami’s is as spot-on as any. Odds are you’ll hear Spanish before you hear any other language, and you’ll find yourself bumping into people from all over the world from the moment you step through security right up until you fasten your seatbelt onboard. Wide-eyed tourists clog up the moving sidewalks in impenetrable clusters, and state-of-the-art glass and steel architecture shares space with sections that look like they haven’t been property dusted since 1987. It’s basically South Florida minus the surf.
And, as such, you’ll also find pretty amazing food if you know where to look. Yes, we have our standard Pizza Huts, Einstein Brothers, and Manchu Woks aplenty. But if you’re hankering for something a little more interesting than Starbucks coffee and McDonald’s cheeseburgers, MIA has you good and covered. Here are the best spots to eat, drink, and take in the local culture at Miami International Airport.
Sometimes,it’s fun to act like a tourist and do stuff like down a margarita and a cheeseburger before you even check in for your flight. If that’s your game, this Buffett-inspired spot outside Concourse E is the move. It’s also not the worst place to wait out an incoming flight delay when you’ve been charged with inlaw pick-up duty.
Set in a long stretch of no-man's land between the American and United check in desks, Chef Creole gives you a good (for the airport, anyway) runthrough of Haitian cuisine’s greatest hits. It’s seafood-heavy, though, so maybe don’t get yours boxed to-go for inflight enjoyment (your seatmates will thank you).
At Miami International Airport Hotel, 7th Floor
Want a sit-down meal with a view of Wilcox Field? The only place to go from here is up—more specifically, high atop the Miami International Airport hotel near Terminal E. Here you’ll enjoy a farm-fresh menu and pretty solid wine list as you watch the take-offs and landings. And you don’t even need a boarding pass to enjoy the experience as this pre-security spot is open to everyone.
You love baby back ribs? Bottomless chips and salsa? A mild case of indigestion at 30,000 feet? This pre-security gem has your back. Expect all of the above, plus feeling like you were dropped in a suburban strip mall where everyone is inexplicably toting roller bags.
Pretty simple grab-and-go sandwiches, but literally your only pre-security option without having to walk half a mile to the other terminals.
Closest gate: D7
It’s not exactly sitting on a beach in Barbados, but at Islander Bar you will find plenty of fruity drinks and people changing planes on their way to the Caribbean. Probably yelling something about “starting vacation early!”
Closest gate: D8
If you want a little glimpse into the healthy food scene in South Beach, grab a table at Icebox where stuff like kale and quinoa fritters and buffalo cauliflower wings highlight the menu. If you wanna delve into the not-so-healthy, the desserts here are to die for. So good, in fact, Opera named it her favorite cake in the world a few years ago.
Closest gate: D12
This is MIA’s best option for Mexican food, where you’ll find a menu on par with any mainstream Mexican restaurant with plenty of tequila to boot. There’s even “outdoor” seating on the concourse so you can watch people go up to the Amex Centurion Lounge next door.
Closest gate: D17
The original Shula’s is still one of the top steakhouses in Miami, and if you’re the type of person who goes to the airport for the prime steak dinners, you’ve arrived.
Closest gate: D19
Though you won’t be sipping mojitos with a cool island breeze here, at least you can drink in the relative dark, and enjoy some Cuban food if you get hungry. If the name is a little confusing, say it out loud—that’s how most Cubans pronounce the island nation just south of Miami. The food here is all Cuban classics. There’s also a café counter if you want your lechon para llevar.
Closest Gate: D22
The literal last stand for what was once Miami’s best fast casual fried chicken is just to the right of security in Terminal D. Expect oversized chicken strips, biscuits, and one of the most impressive bourbon collections in South Florida. Never give up the ship, Spring Chicken.
Closest gate: D24
The Corona Beach House stands as the sort of post-security incentive, a bar visible from TSA Checkpoint 2 that you can gaze at as you shuffle through the line. Once through, you’ll find breezy, beachy, Mexican-inspired stuff like chicken tacos and fresh salads. Priority Pass members get a $30 credit here with your membership cards, too.
Closest gate: D27
The smell of this stuff fills up the concourse for about three gates, and the line for it can sometimes stretch just as far. The big, square slices are reminiscent of local late-night fave Pizza Rustica, but are far gentler on your stomach.
Closest gate: D28
This grab-and-go Mediterranean spot is an offshoot of Icebox Café, where you’ll find the best healthy options in the airport. Think kale smoothies, whole wheat vegan wraps, an organic juice bar, and colorful salads. For travelers who don’t use airports at “cheat days,” this is the go-to.
Closest gate: D23
If you’ve got a painfully early morning flight and know you won’t make it without coffee, skip the line at Starbucks and try this Colombian coffee stand instead. The stuff is strong, so if you’ve got a pile of work waiting for you to reach 30,000 feet, a dose of Juan Valdez is a must.
Closest gate: D29
God bless 2022, when even vegans can find cupcakes in an airport. And the long-suffering animal-free folks aren’t the only ones indulging at Misha’s, where cakes, cookies, and loads of other treats from Miami’s favorite bakery entice passersby.
Closest gate: D29
If Miami’s glut of sushi restaurants wasn’t enough for you, you’ve got one last chance to partake before heading out at this grab-and-go location. There’s also a sit-down option if you’ve got some time, and it’s not even a minimal drop-off in quality from those found on the outside.
Closest gate: D29
This empanada stalwart has been around a dozen years, and somehow worked its way into airports and stadiums around the city. But its success makes sense, as Half Moon’s combination of quality of flaky, savory turnovers are unrivaled. It’s got the classic beef and chicken, but also offers more interesting creations like chicken cordon bleu, chimichurri bacon, eggs and pinto beans, and other stuff that’ll give you a taste of Miami without stepping outside.
Closest gate: D33
This bar’s about as Irish as the guy on the Lucky Charms box, but it’s a great place to grab a quick pint between flights, or before shopping in the Miami Heat team store next door.
Closest gate: D36
This is the only bar in the airport where you can smoke, as in addition to its location next to D36 you’ll find an outdoor section complete with its own bar. Just note, if it’s raining, there’s not much cover. And your cigarette will get damp.
Closest gate: D39
The original location of La Carreta on Calle Ocho might best be described as Cuban Denny’s, where laminated menus with big pictures show you exactly what to expect. The airport location is a little more laid back, but still the best in-terminal option if you’re looking for a sit down Cuban food experience.
Closest gate: D53
Located just up the escalator from the “bus station” gates where flights to places like Tallahassee and Greensboro depart, you’ll find all the mojitos, cuba libres, and other rum-based specialties you expect in Miami.
Closest gate: D33
Though this custom-built burger joint didn’t make it as a stand-alone joint in Aventura, its spirit lives on in the hidden corner of the D terminal near the Heat team store. Expect creative toppings from pesto sauce to buffalo mozzarella at this creative sit-down restaurant.
Closest gate: E5
Miami’s most prolific Cuban chain can also lay a pretty good claim to being its best. Though this location is only a cart near the main terminal E-gates, you can still grab a solid Cuban sandwich to take with you on the plane.
Maestro Della Pizza
Closets gate: E7
Alas, MIA finally got a pizza place outside of Terminal D that doesn’t moonlight as a Target cafeteria staple. Maestro Della Pizza is stashed in American Airlines’ “Ugh, we gotta walk THERE???” terminal, serving as a worthy reward for all that schlepping. While it’s not affiliated with Giotto Maestro Della Pizza—the Neapolitan masterpieces in South Beach—but considering the surroundings, they’re still pretty darned good.
Closest gate: E7
If you’ve been to a Sam Adams airport bar, you’ve been to this one. There’s plenty of beer and even seating out in the concourse, so you can feel a little more social than you might be posted up in the typically dark, double shot-dominated airport dive.
If you’ve got to take MIA’s other (and original!) train, you’re headed out to the lightly trafficked satellite terminal. Oddly, it might be home to the airport’s most local feeling bar at this Wynwood-themed spot where parking is much easier than in real-life Wynwood.
Grab-and-go sushi isn’t limited to those fancy folks flying out of Terminal D. The long-forgotten E satellite terminal also has a Sushi Maki outpost, where you might not be able to sit down but you can still grab a roll or two or the plane (go easy on the uni, pal).
Classic Miami Cuban coffee and quick service counter, available at the E satellite terminal. Enough said.
Closets gate: F12
At MIA, F stands for “forgotten”… or a few other choice words after you’ve knocked back a few at, literally, the only sit-down place to eat or drink on the premises. The beers are cold, and the burgers, wings, and other Cisco-provided bar snacks are fully edible. But much like whatever soon-to-be-defunct carrier parked at this godforsaken terminal, make sure to keep your expectations low.
Guava & Java
Closest gate: F14
For morning departures, ditch Dunkin’ and ‘Bucks and hit this fresh-faced operation for a classic Miami experience. Pair guava-spiked pastelitos with Cuban coffee, or any other number of fragrant bakery items and jazzed-up coffee drinks.
Closest gate: G10
As the only viable drinking spot in the area, lines here can get long. But the beer is still cold and delicious, so do your thing. The pre-security Chili’s is really the only other thing out here, and if you don’t want to stress out about TSA lines making you miss your flight, set your sights on this sucker.
Closest gate: H6
This bright silver bar near most of the Delta gates is probably the easiest place in the airport to just walk up and grab a drink. Just understand as the name might imply, the beer list is long on Heineken.
Closest gate: H7
The H Terminal dining options are limited, which you’ll realize when you step up on this Subway counter and see it has an inexplicably long line. If you’ve got time to kill, and promise not to bring your three-meat trio on the plane with you, it’s a solid choice.
Closest gate: H9
Listen there, Joey Chestnut, scarfing as many of these as you can before your flight is probably gonna lead to a pretty miserable three hours back to JFK. But stop at one and maybe throw in some crinkle cut fries, and you’ll fly home satisfied.
MIA’s quintessential “meal with a view of the airplanes” is at La Pausa, where you can watch jets from two different terminals take people all across the world. The menu is simple—think panini sandwiches, ahi tuna salads, and burgers—so you won’t have to think too hard while deciding what to order. The food’s still solid, but happily takes a back seat to the view out the window.
As you breeze through the mall-like H-J connector, you may find yourself hankering for something a little more substantial than fast food. In a hurry? Check out Gilbert’s, where made-to-order sandwiches, cookies, and salads arrive perfect for the plane.
Closest gate: J11
It might seem a little odd to have a Mexican-themed beach bar inside a terminal where the bulk of Air Canada’s flights depart. Then again, Tim Horton’s airport franchises are hard to come by, so you might as well lean into this bill of chicken tacos, salads, and seafood entrees while you brush up on your Quebecois.
Closest gate: J8
This Florida Turnpike favorite has landed in the airport, too, offering hearty deli sandwiches for those who need to eat in a hurry. They’ve got a long list of specialty sandwiches made both hot and cold, but you can also customize whatever you want if you’re deathly opposed to condiments.