The Ultimate Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Killing Time at Sky Harbor International Airport

Where 'airport food' doesn’t have a negative connotation.

Pedal Haus Brewery
Photo courtesy of Pedal Haus Brewery
Photo courtesy of Pedal Haus Brewery

America’s Friendliest Airport, ahem, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport that is, has been in expansion mode. After undergoing a massive modernization and refresh, including a lineup of new restaurants, millions of travelers that pass through its gates have amentities that make air travel a bit more palatable. Travelers can take their taste buds on a tasty trip though Sky Harbor’s existing local restaurants, coffee shops, bars, grab-and-go spots, and cafes. Because those in-flight pretzels don’t even compare to what you can stick a fork into before you board.

Terminal 3

South Concourse, Level 4
Chef Mark Tarbell’s The Tavern is among the latest local restaurants to open at Sky Harbor. Like its Bitmore counterpart, The Tavern provides hungry travelers with a seemingly endless array of curated wines and bevs plus upscale, comfort food classics and notably, Tarbell’s award-winning burger and BLT sandwich.

SanTan Brewing + Distilling
Photo courtesy of SanTan Brewing + Distilling

Closest gate: F6
This award-winning craft brewery is equipped with a dining room that offers sweeping views of the far-off mountains and tarmac where you can watch the plans come and go. Pub grub like oversized salted pretzels and beer-battered fish and chips are standard. There’s also seating and standing room at the bar if you’d rather snag a pint of Mr. Pineapple on the fly.

Closest gate: F7
Expect to encounter your favorite Shack classics plus an assortment of breakfast sandwiches at the airport location of the widely-popular Madison Square Park burger joint. Fans of Shake Shack can devour the iconic burgers and frozen custards at the South Concourse when those burger cravings hit.

PHX Beer Co.
Photo courtesy of PHX Beer Co.

Closest gate: E4
Beer, and a lot of it, is what’s on the menu here. Phoenix-based, and aptly-named, PHX Beer Co. pours up brews in a range of styles, from strong stouts and sippable porters to easy-drinking ales. This spot makes for a pretty solid hangout for a long layover, if you’re a seasoned beer drinker.

Terminal 4

Chelsea’s churns out made-to-order taco platters that run the gamut from vegetarian tacos made of locally sourced veggies to mesquite grilled ribeye steak, all served with corn tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo, and a kale slaw. Burgers, sandwiches, salads, and a series of starters like smoked trout dip and shrimp ceviche round out the menu here.

Near Security Checkpoint A
The bar is well-stocked at this contemporary cantina. Blanco boasts an extensive tequila list that includes blanco and reposado to añejo varieties. In addition to the tequila, Blanco’s bartenders serve up margaritas, sangrias by the glass or pitcher, wines, and a bevy of flavor-packed cocktails. And you can fill up on flavor-packed salads, noshable tacos, protein heavy burritos, and loaded nachos, too.

Closest gate: D11
This Tucson fast-food favorite is famous across the Grand Canyon State for their icy blended fruit drinks, craveable crinkle fries, packed-full grinders, and stacked subs. And now, travelers from all over can get a little taste of this Tucson classic at Sky Harbor.

Closest gate: D11
The Tempe-born craft brewery recently debuted at Sky Harbor with a barrage of Bavarian-style pretzels, delicious rustic pizzas, and a selection of plant-based noshes like cauliflower wings.

Closest gate: D12
The Valley’s go-to for cold brew and cold beer will soon be pouring a selection of small-batch locally-roasted coffee drinks, craft beer, and cocktails alongside baked goods, artisan snacks, and healthy desserts when their new location opens at Sky Harbor.

Closest gate: A3
You’ll find hearty paninis (available pressed or cold), pizza, and fresh salads topped with all the fixings at this Mediterranean-inspired eatery. For the early morning crowds, Olive & Ivy has you covered with a selection of coffee drinks, parfaits, and a traditional breakfast guaranteed to fuel your travels, wherever your next flight takes you.

Photo courtesy of Zinburger

Closest gate: A5
Zinburger keeps it simple with its concise menu of burgers, milkshakes, and salads. Go all-in on the Sam Burger. Or set your taste buds ablaze with the El Diablo, a fiery combination of pepper jack cheese, fire-roasted jalapeños, braised onions, lettuce, and chipotle mayo. You’ll undoubtedly be reaching for that vanilla milkshake in no time.

Closest gate: A7
In a rush? Stomach rumbling? We get it. And so does Dilly’s Deli. The Tempe favorite has two grab-and-go stations inside of Terminal 4. You can snag their classic sandwiches, wraps, and pre-prepared salads on the fly without risking your connecting flight.

Pre-Security; Closest gate: A8
Hopping on a red-eye? Departing before the sun is up? Wildflower offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner options to keep you fueled for your travels. The award-winning bakery and restaurant has been a Valley favorite for more than 20 years for its fresh-baked breads and pastries, which we must say make for a great snack once you’re 30,000-feet up.

Matt’s Big Breakfast
Photo courtesy of Matt’s Big Breakfast

Closest gate: B5
All-day breakfast is the standard at Matt’s Big Breakfast. The Sonrisa burrito and Matt’s B.E.C. are always on standby. And a band of fully loaded salads round out the quick bites section of the menu here. Matt’s Big Breakfast also offers a parade of classic cocktails from old fashioneds to whiskey sours, red and white wines, bottled and draft beer, plus sparkling mimosas made with freshly squeezed orange juice.

Closest gate: B9
Like the Valley originals, the airport outpost of O.H.S.O. is a good place to hangout if you’ve got some time to kill. Here you can expect comfort food classics like saucy chicken wings, hearty burgers served with fries, and breakfast staples. And of course, O.H.S.O. has a selection of locally brewed beer on tap.

Zinc Brasserie
Photo courtesy of Zinc Bistro

Closest gate: C11
Zinc Brasserie has all the upscale French flair of Scottsdale’s acclaimed Zinc Bistro. The Parisian-esque airport location dishes out fancy mains like grilled chicken paillard plus sandwiches, salads, and straightforward breakfast options that even includes a sweet crème brulée French toast topped with fresh berries and maple syrup. And, Zinc Brasserie boasts a full bar with a robust wine selection, naturally.

Cartel Coffee Lab
Photo courtesy of Cartel Coffee Lab

Closest gate: C13
You bet this hip local coffee shop has a location in the airport. Skip the corporate chains and treat your tastebuds to a macchiato or get going with an espresso. In addition to robust offering of great javas, the baristas at Cartel also sling a nice selection of teas of both the hot and cold variety for those non-coffee drinkers out there.

Closest gate: D1
Ask any local and they’ll tell you that Barrio Café is widely regarded as the absolute best Mexican restaurant in Phoenix. And that’s a top honor, because Phoenix is brimming with great Mexican restaurants. When passing through Sky Harbor, make time to savor Barrio’s classic Arizona Burrito. Don’t skip the guacamole. And, wash it all down with an ice-cold margarita or michelada.

Closest gate: D1
Much like the Arcadia neighborhood original, this LGO location offers walk-up counter service and the same baked goods, sandwiches, pizza, and coffee selection that you’ve come to know and love. There are a couple beers on tap. You can spot artisan gelatos here. And, you’ll probably want to acquire some of those LGO chocolate chip sea salt cookies everyone is always raving about.

Closest gate: D11
Celebrity Chef Bobby Flay’s burger restaurant is landing in Phoenix. Bobby’s Burgers’ menu comprises a lineup of high-quality, made-to-order hamburgers, sandwiches, and sweet sippable milkshakes.

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Lauren Topor  is a multi-passionate creative based in Phoenix with a background in multimedia storytelling, digital photography, and nutrition science. She enjoys mountain biking, unearthing vintage clothing, and black coffee. Lauren’s work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social pages of Valley restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram.