Airport food doesn’t have to be boring.
If vacation starts the moment you set foot in an airport, that means your first vacation meal could be coming from the sea of pre-packaged sandwiches and salads found at newsstands. But at DC’s Reagan National Airport, the smaller of the two airports serving the DMV, that doesn’t have to be the case.
The food options here are relatively concentrated, but if you know what you’re looking for, they can be quite iconic as well. We’ve rounded up the restaurants and quick-service spots in DCA that are worth your time and your money, whether it will be your first taste of the nation’s capital or a farewell meal before you jet across the country for a respite from the city.
Ben’s Chili Bowl
One of the most famous restaurants in DC has naturally found its way into DCA, which means that you can get your first (or last) taste of the city before leaving the airport. While the original landmark location is in the U Street Corridor, in DCA, it’s located pre-security for easy access so you can get a burger, bowl of chili, or a famous half-smoke before taking off.
Terminal A (Gates 1-9)
At Page, you can find breakfast, lunch, and dinner, all from the creative mind of celebrity chef Carla Hall of Top Chef fame. The menu ranges from snacks like beet hummus and other appetizers to more robust meal options like a local crab cake sandwich.
If you’re looking to have a proper sit-down meal, then Reservoir by Robert Wiedmaier is the place to go. The French restaurant offers dishes like a classic croque madame and brasserie burger, plus steak frites, salmon niçoise, and grilled trout for heartier meals. Plus, if you’re really looking to kill some time, there’s a full beer, wine, and spirits menu complete with wines by the bottle.
Terminal B (Gates 10-22)
Somehow, sitting down to drink a beer and watch sports at the airport is more satisfying than that same pairing anywhere else—and one of the best places in DCA to indulge yourself is at the Bracket Room. Chow down on classic American fare like burgers and wings while watching sports highlights on flat screen TVs at the bar.
Terminal B/C (Gates 23-34)
El Centro D.F.
Chef Richard Sandoval has a few well-loved locations of this Mexican restaurant throughout the DMV area, including this option at DCA. If you’re looking for a little slice of Latin America in the capital of America, check out El Centro D.F. for margaritas, tacos, and other Mexican eats.
For more than four decades, Lebanese Taverna has been serving the DC area classic Lebanese fare like spreads of mezze and all kinds of kabobs. At DCA, Lebanese Taverna’s Express location offers a quick way for travelers to grab a pita or shawarma bowl before boarding a plane.
This old favorite DC sandwich shop is slowly reopening spots around the city, but it never left Terminal B/C. Whether you want an order of risotto balls or a hearty Italian sandwich, Taylor Gourmet has portable options that will keep you full throughout your entire flight.
DC’s homegrown fast casual chain, &pizza, now has a spot in DCA, making those flying out of Terminal C very lucky. Fliers can get a cooked-to-order oblong pie outfitted with toppings of their choice or opt for one of &pizza’s signatures like the sweet-and-spicy American Honey or a white pizza with parm-romano sauce, mozzarella, truffle ranch, and black pepper.
If what you’re craving is the familiarity of a national chain started right here in Northern Virginia, then head on over to Five Guys where you can get a burger, an order of fries and, most definitely, a milkshake as a reward for making it to the airport on time.