The Ultimate Guide to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

Everywhere to eat, drink, and lounge before your flight.

DFW Airport Terminal
DFW Airport | Nick Harris
DFW Airport | Nick Harris

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is a hub to the world, serving more than 60 million passengers each year and shuttling them off to hundreds of destinations. Its five terminals (there are plans to build a sixth) and 168 gates cover 27 square miles. Fun facts: that’s bigger than Manhattan, and the airport has its own zip code.

Another fun fact? DFW is a surprisingly good place to eat, with a diverse selection of restaurants and bars offering quality sustenance to weary travelers. And, if you’ve got time to spare before a flight or during a layover, you can hideout in a comfortable airport lounge stocked with gratis food and drinks.

Here’s where to eat, drink, and lounge during your next visit to DFW, broken down by terminal. Remember: If you need to hop between terminals to catch a flight, access a lounge, or score a burger, you can do so via the Skylink train, which sure beats walking around those 27 square miles.

The Salt Lick
The Salt Lick


Closest Gate: A24 (B3, C20, D24, and E22)
DFW is an American Airlines hub, so you can find Admirals Clubs stashed throughout the airport, with additional locations at gates B3, C20, D24, and E22. Expect comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, free alcohol, and a buffet featuring a rotating selection of salads, snacks, and entrees. To enter, you need to be a member, have status, or a boarding pass for a first-class or business-class international flight, or purchase a day pass for $59.

Closest Gate: A38
Traveling is tiring. Minute Suites knows this, so it offers private rooms for getting some sleep during a long layover, plus workstations with everything you need to stay connected.

Closest gate: A9
Fresh Greek salads, Mediterranean dips (hummus, babaganoush), flatbreads, and sandwiches top the menu at Bleu Mediterranean, alongside a solid beer list and several specialty martinis. If you need a morning eye-opener, don’t miss the early riser cocktails, including a whiskey-and-Baileys-spiked Breakfast Frappe and the Passion Juice, with cachaça and passion fruit puree.

Closest gate: A13
A full bar and spacious dining room draws travelers into Ling & Louie’s. The menu isn’t quite as authentic as what you might find in nearby Irving, but it features a smorgasbord of Asian dishes, from Thai soups and noodles to Chinese-American staples like Kung Pao Chicken.

Closest gate: A33
The chef and TV star brings her talents to DFW with this vibrant tapas lounge. Wake up with a breakfast sandwich and Cubano coffee, or enjoy a better-than-usual airport lunch of ropa vieja, crispy arepas, or churrasco steak. No matter the time of day, you can choose from a solid cocktail list featuring the likes of Caipirinhas, Pisco Sours, and more.

Closest gate: A24
This Houston-based empire has locations all over the state, including two spots in DFW. Sample the Louisiana-inspired menu of fried seafood baskets, gumbo, etouffee, oysters, salads, and po’boys. It’s also one of the few airport restaurants we’ve ever seen with alligator on the bill, you know.

Closest gate: A28
The Pappas family doesn’t stop at seafood. Their popular Tex-Mex restaurant is a go-to for cold Margaritas, cheesy enchiladas, chicken quesadillas, and fish tacos. During breakfast, they lean into the morning meal with huevos rancheros, egg-filled quesadillas, and cleverly titled “eggchiladas.”

Closest gate: A16
The Texas Hill Country staple gives travelers a taste of its famous ‘cue right in the airport. Meat platters feature favorites like brisket, pork ribs, and sausage, while nearly everything is available in sandwich form. Need a quick gift for family or friends? Score a couple bottles of The Salt Lick dry rub and barbecue sauce on your way out and thank us later.

Closest gate: A24
The Dallas-based burger gurus are a great pick for creative preflight burgers like the Kevin Bacon (bacon strips and blue cheese) and Big Tex (cheddar, guacamole, fried onion strings and chipotle sauce). If you’re eating early, try the egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwiches complete with your choice of meat.

Closest gate: A17
It’s always a good time for wine and snacks. Work through a few different varietals while you munch on truffled popcorn, cured olives, and deviled eggs. And if you’re staying a while, heartier dishes include roasted lamb meatballs, sandwiches and pizzas.

Closest gate: A14
This drop-in pastry and coffee shop serves breakfast all day alongside a variety of sweet and savory scratch-baked treats perfect for stowing in your bag and busting out for an inflight bite.

DFW Airport
DFW Airport



Closest Gate: B29
This bright and modern 25-seat bar specializes in wine, but it also serves beer and spirits, plus food such as soups, salads, charcuterie boards, flatbreads, and desserts.

Closest Gate: B42
This unique lounge is stocked with game consoles, so you can relax in leather chairs while playing all the latest Xbox One games, with 4K TVs and noise-canceling headphones.

Closest gate: B29
Find a seat at this always-popular restaurant, and get to work on a full menu of Tex-Mex classics from queso and guacamole appetizers to brisket tacos, shrimp enchiladas, and carne asada with marinated onions and chimichurri.

Closest gate: B47
Hunker down at this laid-back watering hole for cold beers and cocktails plus a simple menu of Cajun grub like blackened chicken po’boys, gumbo, and a particularly tasty muffaletta sandwich.

Closest gates: B12 and B43
With two locations in the same terminal, you’re never far from smoked meat Nirvana and the ensuing food coma. The Fort Worth barbecue joint piles plates high with smoked brisket, pork ribs, jalapeño-cheddar sausages, and all the fixing including potato salad, cole slaw, and mac and cheese.

Closest gate: B25
The iconic chef who brought you Abacus, Jasper’s, Imoto, and countless other fine-dining institutions is behind this smoked meat-heavy airport outpost. Two-handed burgers and sandwiches are joined by St. Louis-style spare ribs, brisket, turkey breast, sausages, and a standout baked potato stuffed with brisket, white cheddar, scallions, serrano cream, and ancho barbecue sauce.

Closest gate: B12
If your constitution can handle cheeseburgers, truffle-mushroom-Swiss sandwiches, and a milkshake before getting on the plane, kudos to you. In that case, you may also want to try the Breakfast Burger, which is topped with bacon, cheese, and a fried egg and served until 10 am.

DFW Airport
DFW Airport


Closest Gate: C12

Spa Here takes things up a notch from the typical airport chair massage. Relieve some travel-related stress, and book appointments for Swedish massages, deep-tissue massages, facials, haircuts, and nail treatments.

Closest gate: C22
Banh Shop is fresh and fast, with counter-service bowls and baguettes inspired by the classic Vietnamese sandwich. Choose your protein (chicken, steak, pork meatballs, tofu, or shrimp), add pickled veggies, and top it all off with inventive spreads like jalapeño pesto and cucumber-cilantro aioli.

Closest gate: C27
You won’t forget you’re in an airport, but Beer Union does offer a decent variety of drafts, cans, and bottles, including several local options. The food is skippable, so stick with beers and head elsewhere to eat.

Closest gate: C17
If you’ve never dived headfirst into a heaping plate of lasagna or baked ziti or wrapped your hands around a plump meatball sub at one of the many Maggiano’s locations around the country, now’s your time to shine. Pair whatever you eat with a glass of wine, available in six- or nine-ounce pours.

Closest gate: C14
Another outpost of the famed seafood spot, this time with an adjacent bar serving ice-cold beer, cocktails, and wine in addition to the requisite shrimp cocktail, oysters, and salads.

Closest gate: C19
Here’s the same spot from Terminal A, sporting slightly different digs but offering an identical bill of Tex-Mex hits.

Closest gate: C6
You know Shake Shack, the beloved institution where you’ve devoured Angus beef burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, crinkle-cut fries, and frozen custard. Except now it comes with boarding announcements blaring from the gates.

Closest gate: C12
If you accidentally skipped over Whisk & Bowl back in Terminal A, here’s your chance to score some coffee and pastries before you board. You know what to do.

DFW Airport
DFW Airport


Closest Gate: D2
This traveler-friendly outpost of the West Dallas dining strip features multiple Trinity Groves concepts in one spot, including Beto & Son, Holy Crust Pizza, The Hall Grill, AvoEatery, Cake Bar, and Kate Weiser Chocolate. Order from one, or try them all.

Closest Gate: D22
This barbecue joint smokes brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder on-site. Start the day with a breakfast burrito, or load up on a plate of meat and a couple reliable sides (coleslaw, baked potato salad) before boarding.

Closest Gate: D21
The best lounge in American’s fleet, the Flagship Lounge has a cocktail bar, shower suites, and solid food options. But keep walking into the Flagship First Dining Room to find a full-service restaurant with waitstaff and menu items from Roots Southern Table chef Tiffany Derry. The restaurant is only accessible to travelers flying Flagship First or Flagship Business Plus on select flights.

Closest Gate: D22
This lounge can be accessed by certain Capital One credit cardholders, and day passes are available for $65. Inside, there’s a full-service bar with all the requisite drinks, while food stations include an assortment of snacks and heartier fare. There’s also a cycling and yoga room, so ambitious travelers can work up a sweat before hitting the on-site showers.

Closest Gate: D12
Step into a Centurion Lounge, and you may forget you’re at the airport, at least for a while. The food menu comes from Fearing’s chef Dean Fearing, while the drinks are supplied by famed barkeep Jim Meehan. Exhale Spa provides treatments, shower suites let you refresh during long layovers, and private workspaces are available if you must get some work done. Gain access with select American Express credit cards.

Closest Gate: D27
This is where all the Priority Pass holders congregate, plus anyone who wants to spring for the $50 day pass. The space is small, but there’s a balcony looking out over the terminal, the food spread is decent, and the full bar will fortify you with beers and Bloody Marys until boarding begins.

Closest gate: D27
Do your body a favor and give it some greens. Artisan Market’s sandwiches, salads, and soups are all crafted with ingredients sourced from local purveyors and farmers.

Closest gate: D22
You can visit Bar Louies all over the country, but a little comfort and familiarity goes a long way when you’re stuck at the airport. Burgers, flatbreads, salads, draft beers, martinis, and mules are the order de rigueur here.

Closest gate: D25
This popular Fort Worth spot bills itself as the “locals living room.” And while you can’t exactly ignore the fact that you’re in an airport, the inviting living room vibes still apply nonetheless. They open at 5 am for coffee and breakfast (eggs, biscuits, granola with yogurt) and move toward burgers, salads, and chicken pot pie later in the day. As the name implies, they do brewed items right here, starting with coffee and ending with beer.

Closest gate: D24
The same Tex-Mex favorite from Terminal B. Stop in for tacos, enchiladas, and Margaritas.

Closest gate: D27
This cozy spot is an escape from the terminal, with warm lighting and bottle-lined shelves. The wine selection is legit, so go ahead and order a flight—maybe from the country you’re about to visit—and keep your head on straight with charcuterie boards, pizzas, and paninis.

Closest gate: D20
If you’re more into beer than wine, Flying Saucer has 200 of them. This two-level bar is a visual anchor in Terminal D, offering prime views of your gate while you make your way through the global beer list. The brews are the main draw, but a lineup of nachos, soft pretzels, and burgers is also on hand if hunger strikes.

Closest gate: D34
Pizzas, pastas and salads dominate the menu at this airy spot from celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. If you’re taking yours to-go, you can find an assortment of sandwiches and salads prepped and ready. And if you’re sticking around, the drinks list utilizes fresh juices and includes riffs on classics like Negronis and Whiskey Sours.

DFW Airport
DFW Airport


Closest Gate: E31
Stop in for a quick beer and a snack of chips and guacamole, or line your stomach with something heartier, like migas, a trio of tacos, or the Texas-Sized Burrito stuffed with your choice of chicken, steak, or ground beef and served with red rice and refried beans.

Closest Gate: E13
Sonny Bryan’s has been serving barbecue to DFW diners since 1958. This is that, just in the airport.

Closest Gate: E10
Delta’s lone DFW airport lounge resides in terminal E, where Delta Sky Club members and premium cabin passengers, as well as those with elite status and certain credit cards, can access the lounge with a same-day boarding pass. Relax with gratis drinks and snacks, or take advantage of the Wi-Fi before your flight.

Closest Gate: E31
The first Plaza Premium Lounge in the US serves fresh food from the on-site kitchen, plus a good-looking bar with a Texas-shaped tile backsplash that’s pouring local beers, wines, and spirits. DragonPass and HSBC EveryMile Card members gain automattic access, while select airlines, including Emirates, and select credit cardholders share privileges. Otherwise, you can purchase a walk-in pass at $25 for one hour or $45 for three hours.

Closest Gate: E6
United’s only DFW lounge has a full bar, snacks, comfortable seating, TVs, and conference rooms. To get in, travelers must have a United Club membership or a first-class or business-class ticket. Everyone else can pay $59 for entry with a same-day United boarding pass.

Closest gate: E31
Tacos and tequila: Still a great combo after all these years. The casual, colorful Blue Mesa opens at 5 am for breakfast tacos, migas, and Bloody Marys before moving on to enchiladas, fajitas, and burritos plus all your favorite starters like chips and salsa, guacamole, and nachos.

Closest gate: E5
Former Dallas Cowboys great Drew Pearson was the original number 88. And today, he’s behind this football-themed bar and grill serving three meals a day with sports on TV. Tuck into burgers, wraps, wings, and salads and pass some time by watching the game du jour.

Closest gate: E12
This outpost of Fort Worth chef Tim’s Love’s Stockyards restaurant serves up the same delicious burgers, hot dogs, and crispy chicken sandwiches as the original.

Closest gate: E36
The sign promises “pizza, salads, panini” and the restaurant certainly delivers. This isn’t the most inspired menu in Terminal D, but the food is fast and reliable, and a selection of prepared foods are packaged and ready to go. If you’re hanging out for a while, the full bar has all the basic beers, wine, and spirits required to accompany your meal.

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Kevin Gray is a contributor for Thrillist.