Dining options at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) were once limited to fast food and the now-closed Encounter Restaurant in the iconic Theme Building. But the situation has improved dramatically in recent years, the result of a multi-billion dollar capital improvement project. The centerpiece is the New Tom Bradley International Terminal (New TBIT), a state-of-the-art, $1.7-billion facility that solidifies L.A.’s status as a vital international gateway. New TBIT features luxury shopping and a sophisticated dining collection that showcases the best of L.A.’s global flavors. From the transformed Terminal 2 and Terminal 6, to eateries in New TBIT and recent additions throughout the airport, read on for some of the best dining options for LAX travelers.
Slapfish, a creative oceanic comfort food concept from CEO-Founder Andrew Gruel and wife/marketing manager Lauren, crosses an East Coast fish shack with SoCal and Baja twists. A massive overhead fish skeleton dominates the space, which also houses colorful reclaimed wood tables and a wood bar. Signature dishes include an overflowing lobster roll with sweet knuckle and claw meat that’s tossed with hot butter and tangy lemon mayo and served on a butter-griddled brioche bun with French fries and pickle spear. Creamy clam chowder comes dressed with chives, bacon bits and a couple shakes of proprietary “Slapfish spice” blend that graces nearly every dish. Massive shrimp burritos should fill you up before any flight, preferably drizzled with creamy lemon herb sauce.
Delta passengers now have access to Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s fast casual burger sensation, which sprouted from a stall in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. The large space with runway views serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mornings star breakfast sandwiches with griddled eggs, melted American cheese, and a choice of pork sausage patty, ham, or bacon. Stumptown coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice stay flowing. Shake Shack is rooted in the ShackBurger®. Beautifully charred Angus beef patties come on soft Martin’s potato rolls with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions. Next-level SmokeShack® combines applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers, and creamy ShackSauce™. Of course, no trip to Shake Shack is complete without a shake. Consider black & white, a thick blend of vanilla and fudge, and mull making it malted.
Umami Burger founder Adam Fleischman and chef Anthony Carron launched the original Westwood Village location of their fast-growing pizza chain in 2013. The 800 Degrees at LAX serves Neapolitan-style, build-your-own pizzas that emerge from wood-burning ovens in a minute, perfect for international travelers on the go.
The Chaya restaurants in Downtown L.A. and Venice are known for innovative fusion cuisine that blends French culinary techniques with Japanese ingredients. International travelers can purchase grab-and-go items for their flights, or sit down to enjoy sushi, savory plates, specialty cocktails and Chaya’s signature ambiance.
Drink LA is a groundbreaking new airport concept, serving fine wines, craft beers, classic cocktails and small plates along with sweeping views of the terminal. Drink LA is located on the Mezzanine Level of the Great Hall.
In November 2013, the LAX location of Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack was named one of the Top 10 Airport Restaurants in America by GQ Magazine. Fans of the Top Chef champion's original gourmet sandwich shop on Melrose Avenue (which became Sack Sandwiches in February 2016) will find their favorites available to grab-and-go, such as the pork butt banh mi; cold fried chicken; and the Jose Andres (aka The Spanish Godfather), made with serrano ham, chorizo, and manchego cheese.
Luckyfish by Sushi Roku offers fresh sushi and sashimi, specialty rolls, ramen and udon noodles, curry and teriyaki bowls, cold and hot appetizers, and a full bar with signature cocktails and sake by the glass. Luckyfish is located on the Mezzanine Level of the Great Hall.
Petrossian elevates the travel experience with over 20 vodkas and top-shelf champagne to pair with the company’s famous caviar. Travelers can relax before their flights and indulge in Petrossian’s offerings, or take their luxury on board with a “caviar in the air” picnic pack that includes a caviar selection of their choice, blinis, and crème fraiche presented in an insulated carry-on Petrossian pouch. Additional gourmet to-go options include a selection of Parisian-smoked salmon and charcuterie.
Starbucks Evenings is a first for LAX, and the world's second airport location of this new concept. Besides coffee and other standard offerings from the global coffee giant, Starbucks Evenings serves beer, wine and tapas.
Founded in Los Angeles, Umami Burger specializes in classic American burgers made with unique, secret ingredients that give them their signature flavor. The Great Hall location of the burgeoning chain features burgers that are exclusive to LAX, including the LAX Burger, the LAX Veggie Burger, and three breakfast burgers.
The L.A.-based Vanilla Bake Shop opened its first-ever airport location at LAX. Vanilla Bake Shop is known for its made-from-scratch cakes, cupcakes and assorted sweets with a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients.
Meaning “wine flight” in Italian, Vino Volo has a knowledgeable staff that can help travelers navigate the eclectic wine list, as well as offer suggestions on charcuterie and cheese pairings. Vino Volo serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and small plates.
Cole’s French Dip, the historic Downtown L.A. spot known for its signature sandwiches as well as its classic cocktails, is located in Terminal 4, the West Coast hub for American Airlines. Cole’s is located near Gate 44 in the Departures Level Food Court, a showcase of L.A.-native eateries that also includes 8 oz. Burger Bar, Campanile, Homeboy Cafe and Real Food Daily ("the world's first plant-based airport restaurant").
Since 1996, Chef Farshid Hakim has run La Provence Patisserie & Café in Beverly Hills. His Brentwood Gardens location didn’t work out, but LAX has proven to be a rewarding rebound, complete with pastel pink accents and olive green and white striped backing. An array of pastries and crodos (La Provence’s version of Cronut™) have proven popular. The cranberry cheese croissant contains a sweet-tart blend of berries and cream cheese. A chocolate croissant features a soft rectangle loaded with dark chocolate. Bear claw sports toasted almond scales and contains tantalizing almond paste. Macarons are no longer available, but they’ve added a larger selection of grab-and-go sandwiches.
Food & Bounty is an extension of chef Helen Cavallo’s Sunset Gower Studios café and part of a rotating food truck stop in the Terminal 4 food court, which changes approximately once per year. The faux food truck previously hosted Kogi BBQ, Border Grill and Grilled Cheeze Please. The current incarnation features a yellow wrap, logo of a boy with a horse and wagon, and the motto: “Real food. Real fresh.” The Bounty Bowl combines Spanish rice, veggie hash, beet sticks, and a choice of chicken, pork or veggies. Avocado toast co-stars garden greens and basil salsa verde on rustic wheat bread. Heartier eaters prefer the Wafflino, a grilled cheese meets waffle mash-up with molten cheese, tomato, bacon, and ham. To drink, look for fresh-squeezed juices and kombucha.
Chef Ben Ford opened his eponymous Ford’s Filling Station in 2006. His pioneering gastropub became a mainstay of the thriving Culver City dining scene before it closed and reopened at the JW Marriott at L.A. LIVE in 2014. Located at Gate 55A, Ford’s Filling Station offers pub burgers, flatbreads, salads and bar bites. On the other side of the Duty Free Shop, Skewers by Morimoto features the Iron Chef’s take on Japanese-style street and bar food. Nearby is the LAX outpost of Lemonade, the ever-expanding chain of fast-casual cafeterias offering seasonal Southern California comfort food.
The sleek BOA Steakhouses in West Hollywood and Santa Monica have been re-imagined at LAX as B Grill by BOA Steakhouse, located across from Duty Free along the concourse between Gate 71B and Gate 73. The extensive menu offers signatures like the Petite Filet Mignon, New York Strip, BOA Burger and BOA Chop Chop, as well as more casual offerings like a breakfast burrito and wraps. Hungry travelers take note: the Food [Collection] food court across from Wolfgang Puck Express includes several new food and beverage options, including bld, The Counter and CarryOn Market.
Mexico City-born chef Jimmy Shaw’s Loteria Grill is a Food [Collection] standout. Their three-taco combo comes with fluffy rice, earthy black beans, and a choice of protein. We’d suggest tinga de pollo with shredded chicken stewed with chipotle and house-made chorizo. Chilaquiles are also excellent, with crispy corn tortilla chips sautéed with your preferred salsa and dressed with queso fresco, crema Mexicana, onions, and cilantro. Chilaquiles verdes tout winning tang, but you may prefer the punchier version with red chile guajillo salsa. Add eggs, any style, preferably fried. Nachos involve molten Monterey Jack cheese, heaps of pico de gallo and protein. Burritos are also popular, since the meat, rice, and veggie filled behemoths are plane-friendly.
Black and white photos depict firefighters at Downtown L.A.’s old Engine Co. No. 28, now the long-time home to the original restaurant. The LAX outpost touts red walls with stainless steel pillars, speckled white tables, and black cushioned banquettes. Areas executive chef Mario Perez oversees this menu, which includes “firehouse favorites” like oven-roasted meatloaf smothered in mushroom demi glace, served with house-made, skin-on garlic mashed red potatoes and sautéed spinach. Crispy chicken & waffles feature Belgian waffles served with fried chicken breast and drumstick blanketed in house-made gravy crafted with sausage, bacon fat, scallions, salt, pepper, flour, and cream. Firefighters can’t live on comfort food alone, so Engine Co. 28 offers “green alarm” salads like the Firehouse Cobb. Well-seasoned cubes of grilled chicken breast join be romaine hearts, bacon bits, a Hass avocado fan, tomato, egg, and blue cheese dressing.