Revisiting Atlanta's airport dining guide seemed necessary this week, what with the busy holiday travel weekend ahead. Thanks to fine dining options like One Flew South and the addition of the new international terminal this year, times are a-changin' for airport food, and we want to make sure you get fed to your satisfaction whether you're running late and only have time for a quick bite or you want to sit down and relax before your cross-Atlantic flight. Here, now, the Eater Airport Dining Guide.
Best Bets Inside Hartsfield-Jackson International
1) One Flew South: Ranked last year by Food & Wine as one of the two best spots to eat in the airport (for the other, see #3), One Flew South is Atlanta's first upscale airport restaurant, and it delivers. Chef Duane Nutter offers a menu ranging from sushi to Southern-inspired global fare. His team also provides excellent service and mixes a solid cocktail— both are just what you need to make it through. International ticket not required to access. [Concourse E]
[Photo: One Flew South]
2) The Original El Taco: The VaHi restaurant opened an outpost in the new international terminal earlier this year and is serving up items like fried chicken tacos to hungry travelers. [Concourse F]
[Photo: Fifth Group Restaurants]
3) Paschal's Southern Cuisine: Why are there two locations of Paschal's at the airport? Because the Atlanta institution has served since 1947 as the meeting place for notables like Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie, Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson (yes, that Jackson), Martin Luther King, Jr., and Al Gore—so why not extend that meeting space from downtown to the world's busiest airport? Also, because the world coming in and out of here shouldn't miss the fried chicken and catfish, country-fried steak, mac 'n' cheese, or Southern veg. [Main Terminal Atrium, Concourse B]
[Photo: John Maley]
4) SweetWater Draft House & Grill: Favorite local brewery, SweetWater is the tap of choice at this pub serving up burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries and the like. Word on the street is: go for the local and domestic beers, watch some sports, but don't expect a whole lot from the grub itself. [Concourse A, Concourse B]
[Photo: Hartsfield-Jackson International]
5) Chick-fil-A: Hometown franchise Chick-fil-A may have gotten itself into hot water with the anti-marriage equality controversy it faced earlier this year, but may a Southerner looks forward to that first hot chicken biscuit or sandwich once they're back below the Mason Dixon line. The current location in Concourse C is a temporary kiosk that doesn't serve fries; a larger joint CFA/the Varsity location is on the way. [Concourse C]
[Photo: Hartsfield-Jackson International]
Best Bets at Odd Hours
· Both locations of the Atlanta Bread Company are open 24 hours. (Concourse C, Atrium)
· Dunkin Donuts (Concourse A), Krystal (Concourse A), and select Starbucks cafes (Atrium, Concourse D, Concourse F) start serving at 5 a.m.
· Coaches Corner (Concourse B), Edy's Grand Ice Cream (Atrium), Frankly Speaking (Concourse A, Concourse E), Hot Dog Zone (Concourse C), JATO's Corner (Concourse D), One Flew South (Concourse E), A Bar (Concourse A), Asian Chow (Concourse A), and Brews & Blues (Concourse A) are open until 11 p.m. All but Edy's and Hot Dog Zone have seating.
· The Bar is open until midnight. (Concourse E)
Best Bet for Free Wi-Fi
The Concourse E food court offers unlimited free wireless internet and an abundance of outlets. Find Arby's, Villa Pizza, Frankly Speaking, Qdoba, Nature's Table Bistro, and more there. (Concourse E)
Best Bets Outside Hartsfield-Jackson International(You'll need at least three hours to get there, eat, and get back.)
1) The Feed Store: Southern food's the thing at The Feed Store, housed in a historic, family-owned (um) feed store. Run by chef Peter Golaszewski, formerly of the Buckhead Ritz-Carlton, the dishes (bbq duck spaghetti, shrimp and grits, fried chicken with Coca-Cola baked beans) are more of a Northerner's perspective on Southern, but we hear that the desserts (sweet potato pecan pie with sorghum ice cream) are can't-miss. [3841 Main Street, College Park, 5 minutes from the airport]
[Photo: The Feed Store]
2) The Pecan: This fine dining restaurant from Tony Morrow has prices that match its white tablecloths, but the food is (usually) worth it. The seafood dishes and the desserts come highly recommended by most, and the Pecan is only 1.6 miles from Hartsfield-Jackson. They did just open a non-sit down outpost in the mezzanine of Concourse F as well. [3725 Main Street, College Park, 5 minutes from the airport]
[Photo: Fumi T./Yelp]
3) Real Pit BBQ: Tony Morrow's more casual barbecue joint recently opened a mile and a half away from the airport. The family-run restaurant also has a cigar bar and rentable lockers for people planning to make return trips. Try things like the 14-hour smoked brisket or pulled pork fries. [3807 Main Street, College Park, 5 minutes from the airport]
4) The Manchester Arms: Looking for "casual fine family dining?" Okay, we don't know what that is, either. But what you should be looking for at The Manchester Arms is fish and chips. The British pub's are as good as you'll get, unless you happen to be flying to England. If flying solo, just make sure you call a cab to the airport before downing a couple pints, Britain-style. [1705 Virginia Avenue, College Park, 8 minutes from the airport]
[Photo: The Manchester Arms]
5) Pho Dai Loi: The Forest Park outpost of Buford Highway's Pho Dai Loi is absolutely worth the quick ride from the airport. The Vietnamese restaurant's massive menu includes starters like cha gio (spring rolls) and goi cuon (shrimp and basil rolls), and a long list of bun choices (faves are lemongrass chicken and finely sliced pork skin), plus out-of-this-world Pho (glorious, glorious soup), available in a dozen beef-broth variations. Five out of five pho-heads agree. Go get you some. [4061 Jonesboro Rd, Forest Park, 15 minutes from the airport]
[Photo: Facebook, BuHi location]
Iron Chef Cat Cora's restaurant, Cat Cora's Kitchen, will open within the year, Ecco will open a Concourse F outpost this winter, the Atlanta Chophouse— from the people behind Longhorn Steakhouse— is coming to the atrium, and Varasano's Hartsfield-Jackson location should be in Concourse A by early spring.