Everything You Need to Know About Dining and Drinking at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport, or IAH, is one of the busiest airports in the world. Hosting more than 39 million travelers every single year, IAH boasts a ton of restaurants that can satisfy the cravings of pretty much any traveler.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the airport’s restaurants scaled back operations or closed their doors. Now, though, the situation is stabilizing, and more and more travelers are returning to the skies. At this bustling airport, the dining options range from upscale sit-down experiences to quick grab-and-go kiosks slinging sandwiches that can easily be eaten on the plane.

Browse through this terminal-by-terminal guide to every dining option at IAH, complete with recommendations for locally born spots. Don’t forget: masks are still required in all airport facilities, including restaurants.

Best bet for booze and comfort food: Hubcap Grill & Beer Yard
There’s no better way to prepare for a flight than downing a big greasy burger and plenty of beer, and this Houston favorite is the perfect spot to do just that. Park your luggage and enjoy bacon-topped patties served on locally-baked buns and killer hand-cut fries. [gate A26]

The Rest:

Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar — [gate A17]
Chick-Fil-A — [gate A17]
Flights Lounge & Grill — The airport hotel’s “signature” restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. [pre-security, Houston Airport Marriott]
Jack In The Box — [gate A7]
Liquid Provisions — Cocktail, beer and wine bar with gastropub fare like charcuterie and mac & cheese. [gate A17]
Panda Express — [gate A17]
Starbucks — There are two Starbucks locations in Terminal A, one near gate A7 and another near gate A17.
Subway– [Terminal A check-in]
Wendy’s — [gate A17]
Which Wich — [gate A7]

Booze is a must at the airportPhoto by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Best bet for filling up on seafood: 3rd Bar Eating House

3rd Bar Eating House is a solid option for fresh Gulf oysters, fried shrimp po’ boys, and Tex-Mex inspired seafood dishes. If you’re not feeling fish, order a trio of sliders with different proteins or a crisp Cobb salad. [gate B1]

The Rest:

American Craft Tavern — Quick spot for grab and go snacks and salads, plus beer on tap and cocktails. [gate B83]
Flights Lounge & Grill — [pre-security, Houston Airport Marriott]
Cafe Adobe — [gate B88]
Chick-Fil-A — [food court]
Ray’s Fish Shack — A new seafood spot from the owner of Ray’s BBQ Shack.
Hard Rock Cafe — [gate B85]
CIBO Express Gourmet Market — quick gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options [gate B1]
Freshii — Salads, wraps, bowls, burritos, frozen yogurt, and juices. [Terminal B food court]
Jason’s Deli — [gate B1]
Panda Express — [gate B1]
Peet’s Coffee & Tea– [Terminal B check-in and gate B85]
Whataburger — Texas’ favorite fast-food burger joint. [gate B1]
Starbucks — [gate B1]

Ember at IAHEllie Sharp/EHOU

Best bets from celebrated Houston chefs:

Pala — Chef Ryan Pera serves up oven-fired pizzas with both creative (brussels sprouts) and classic (pepperoni) toppings. Be sure to save room for dessert — the chocolate hazelnut torte is a super sweet way to start your trip. [gate C5]

Ember — Like at his restaurants UB Preserv, Georgia James, and One Fifth, James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd shows his love for all things Houston at his recently-debuted restaurant in Terminal C North. Hand-cut steaks, Gulf seafood dishes, and starters like smoked chicken wings offer a decidedly quality alternative to generally lackluster airport fare. [gate C12]

The best bet for casual cajun fare: Bam Bam
An ode to all things Houston, with Vietnamese-Cajun crawfish (when in season), po’ boys, and the bar’s signature oyster nachos. [gate C5]

The Rest:

Agave Taqueria — [gate C33]
CIBO Express Gourmet Market — [gate C10, gate C33, and gate C34]
Einstein Bros. Bagels — [gate C42]
Flights Lounge & Grill — [pre-security Houston Airport Marriott]
El Premio Tex-Mex Bar & Grill — An offshoot of Houston Tex-Mex favorite El Tiempo that serves fajitas, queso, and fresh tortillas. [gate C34]
H Burger Bar — A New Orleans and Houston-inspired burger joint from chef Antoine Ware. [gate C33]
Pink’s Pizza — Local pie joint with pizza by the slice and a full bar. [gate C42]
Pappasito’s — Tex-Mex classics, served fast-casual style. [gate E1]
Forno Magico — Neapolitan style pizzas [gate C34]
Landry’s Seafood — Upscale Gulf seafood dishes from Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta’s Landry’s Hospitality. [gate C34]
La Salsa — Burritos, tacos, and enchiladas, plus strong margaritas and beer. [gate C42]
Starbucks — [gate C1, gate C10, and gate C33]
Southern Belle — Fried chicken and breakfast favorites [gate C44]
Wendy’s — [gate C12 and gate C42]

H Burger Bar in Terminal COTG [Official Photo]

If you’re flying into (or out of) Terminal D, you might want to grab a snack before heading to the airport. All of the local restaurants, including chef Hugo Ortega’s Hugo’s Cocina and Tony’s Wine Cellar and Bistro are temporarily closed. Absolutely need sustenance? There’s a couple of vending machines strategically placed near gates E5-E7 stocked with snacks, coffee, and cold beverages.

Best Bets:

Tagliare — Score a quick slice of pizza — both thin crust and Sicilian options are on offer here — or show up early for one of this counter-service spot’s excellent breakfast options. [gate E1]
Ruby’s Diner — Classic diner fare with booze, milkshakes, and breakfast options. [Terminal E security checkpoint]
Q — Brisket, ribs, and more smoked meats from Houston pitmaster Greg Gatlin.
Pappasito’s Cantina — A margarita and big bowl of queso served with chips will serve pretty much any pre-flight anxiety. [gate E1]

The Rest:

Pappadeaux’s Seafood Kitchen — Houston-born chain slinging Cajun and Creole dishes. [gate E3]
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels — [gate E12]
Custom Burgers — As the name would imply, expect customizable burgers, plus breakfast options in the morning. [gate E2]
Gavi — Pizza, pasta, and more Italian dishes. [gate E14]
Houston Wheelhouse — Tex-Mex dishes like nachos and fajitas, plus a full bar. [gate E19]
Tanglewood Grill — Steaks and seafood in an upscale space. [gate E23]
Cinnabon — [gate E12]
Dunkin’ Donuts — [gate E11]
Nestle Toll House Cafe — [gate E12]
Panda Express — [gate E1]
Starbucks — [gate E2 and gate E24]
Wendy’s — [gate E24]
CIBO Express Market — Open at gates E2, E22, E24
Yume — Japanese fare, including sushi and ramen. [gate E11]
Zori Bistro — Asian fusion eatery with dishes like bulgogi beef salad, sesame chicken, and fried rice, plus beer. [gate E24]

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