San Diego

The Best Places to Eat in San Diego International Airport

Fill up on your layover.

COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of the travel industry, and San Diego International Airport has continued to adjust with new safety protocols and streamlined services. With fewer travelers, a number of the airport's concessions have decreased hours, smaller menus or opted to temporarily close until vacationers and conventioneers return. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll have to settle for a stale donut and weak coffee—there are still plenty of options from local favorites (like The Prado and Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant), as well as the usual fast-casual, fast food, and coffee shop chains. Narrowing down your options can be time-consuming, so follow our handy guide to the airport's best bars, kiosks, coffee stands, and sit-down restaurants.

If you’ve already settled into a seat at your gate and don’t feel like lugging your carry-on across the terminal, there's still hope. Simply download At Your Gate, a mobile ordering and delivery service app that allows you to order food from several restaurants via your mobile devices and have them delivered to you at your gate (or other locations inside the airport). Problem solved!

TERMINAL ONE, PRE-SECURITY

Jack-in-the-Box
Until In-N-Out opens an airport location, this other San Diego-based chain is your best bet for nabbing a quick burger and fries before the security checkpoint. 
Also in Terminal Two East, Level 2, near Gate 26

TERMINAL ONE, LEVEL TWO

Peet’s Coffee & Tea 
Closest gate: 11
Choose from classic coffee or tea, or a full complement of espresso drinks, iced beverages and blended freddos. 
Also in Terminal Two East, near Gate 26 and Terminal Two West, Gate Security Corridor

Einstein Brothers Bagels
Closest gate: 3
This popular bagel chain serves breakfast all day, along with deli sandwiches, paninis and hot bagel melts, espresso and frozen drinks, and a special menu of breakfast and lunch selections that come in under 350 calories and 15 grams of fat.
Also in Terminal Two West, pre-security

Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant
Closest gate: 7
Expect to find an abbreviated menu of the same American comfort food as the beloved Fourth Street venue. Highlights include buttermilk blueberry pancakes (before 10am), a grilled chicken and forest mushroom sandwich with brie, and marinated steak street tacos. Wash it down with one (or two) of their excellent craft cocktails. 

The Counter: Custom Built Burgers
Closest gate: 4
Build your own burger from an extensive list of meat and vegetarian options and dozens of different cheeses, toppings, and sauces, or make it into a bowl with organic mixed greens, spinach, or lettuce blend.

Artisan Market storefront
Artisan Market | High Flying Foods

TERMINAL TWO EAST

Artisan Market
Closest gate: 23
The best of local fare at this grab-and-go market includes Pannikin coffee and breakfast sandwiches, (non-grab-and-go) Stone beer on tap, fresh cocktails, and made-to-order salads and panini.

The Prado at the Airport 
Closest gate: 27
It may not have the romance of San Diego’s beloved Balboa Park iteration, but you can expect all your Prado favorites, including their popular spicy calamari fries, lobster and shrimp potstickers, and grilled fish tacos. You'll also find an opportunity for much-needed preflight cocktails, beer, and wine. Note that only bar seating is available at the moment. 

California Pizza Kitchen
Closest gate: 26
The chain that brought the world California-style pizza also serves pasta, salads, soup, and sandwiches, as well as a substantial children’s menu.

TERMINAL TWO WEST

Starbucks 
Closest Gate: 37
The only outpost of the ubiquitous coffee shop still open in the airport has all your favorite coffee, espresso-based drinks, Teavana teas, and iced beverages.

PGA Tour Grill
Closest gate: 36
Following the adage “Eat smarter, play harder," the expansive PGA Tour Grill features upscale, healthy fare such as egg white omelets, hickory plank salmon, shrimp and mahi mahi ceviche, and vegan pasta marinara. Splurge on a crisp specialty cocktail to balance it out.

Pannikin Coffee and Tea
Closest gate: 38
Family-owned and operated Pannikin roasts their single-origin and proprietary blends of coffee in small batches every day, to bring San Diegans the freshest possible espressos, specialty drinks, and hot and iced teas.

Camden Food Company
Closest gate: 47
Craft your own tasty hot sandwiches, bagels, and paninis on artisanal bread. Vegetarian options include a roasted veggie sandwich and caprese panini. There’s also a salad bar, daily soups, oatmeal, and the usual grab-and-go snacks and beverages.

Elegant Desserts
Closest gate: 38
This is a great grab-and-go stop for all kinds of candies and sweets, but especially for their daily delivery of fresh donuts from local obsession Donut Bar.

Phil’s BBQ
Closest gate: 46
Choose from Phil’s wildly popular, award-winning baby back ribs, mesquite grilled chicken, and classic sandwiches like the El Toro (featuring barbecue-sauced tri-tip) or the BBQ Broham with pulled pork. If variety's what you're after, grab one of Phil’s “ticklers”: a sampler featuring ribs or chicken with onion rings, fresh cut fries, coleslaw, and cornbread. 

Qdoba Mexican Grill
Closest gate: 48 (Sunset Cove)
A stiff competitor in the Mexican fast-casual arena, Qdoba Mexican Grill brings handcrafted meals with fresh, premium ingredients, from their signature three-queso sauce and hand-smashed guacamole to grilled flat-iron steak and slow-roasted pulled pork.

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Mary Beth Abate is a San Diego-based freelance writer by way of Chicago and Los Angeles. Her hobbies include yoga, pickling and fermenting stuff, reading cookbooks and drinking fabulous gin. Keep up with her experiments @MaryBeth_Abate.
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