Travel often means long lines, delayed flights and busy terminals, all of which can cause copious amounts of stress. And nothing makes copious amounts of stress even worse than being hangry. Make sure your belly is full and happy while dealing with all of the chaos. Skip the fast food, and instead stop at one of these SFO spots to grab a pre-flight meal (and a much-needed drink where available).
RECOMMENDED: Traveling to and from San Francisco
Restaurants at San Francisco airport
If you need to grab something to eat and a gift for your host, look no further than Napa Farms Market in Terminal 2 and International Terminal G where you can get farm-to-flight fare, as well as last-minute treats for friends and family that won’t seem last-minute at all. For meal time, the artisan marketplace offers seasonal food and beverages and plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. Think rotisserie chicken or tri-tip from Tyler Florence (Terminal 2 only), as well as wood-fired pizza, fancy salads and sandwiches, local desserts and more. There’s also a huge selection of artisanal cheeses and meats from local purveyors, chocolates, wine, jams, olive oils, and even treats for Fido. All perfect to give (or keep for yourself).
Airport food is definitely not like it used to be, as evidenced by the fact that you can grab a bite from world-renowned Iron Chef Cat Cora at SFO. The Terminal 2 spot focuses on locally-sourced and organic ingredients. Slurping down a dozen oysters before a flight sounds like a treat, but the menu offers slightly more practical meals like lobster mac n’ cheese, a Greek fisherman’s stew and a delicious burger. There’s also a good selection of local wines by the glass, as well as eight specialty cocktails. Best of all, the prices feel really reasonable… for an airport.
If you’re in Terminal 3 and craving seafood, head to Yankee Pier. The vibe is bustling, but friendly, and the fish and shellfish arrive daily so you don’t have to worry about getting sick from eating seafood at an airport. The dishes (which are admittedly a little pricey) include clam chowder, Dungeness crab Louie, a Maine lobster roll and seafood tacos. Oh, and best of all, there’s a full bar—something that for many people is a necessity when eating at the airport.
If you’re craving a Niman Ranch double cheeseburger from Gott’s (be real, when aren’t you?), you can satisfy that craving in the International Terminal. The menu is slightly more limited than other Gott’s locations, but you can still get seven different burgers, ahi poke tacos, onion rings and three salads. Plus, unlike any other Gott’s, you can also order breakfast burritos, sandwiches and boozy beverages. Yup, this is the only Gott’s with a full bar, which might just make it the best Gott’s of all.
If you find yourself in Terminal 3 and with not much time to eat, swing by Koi Palace, a quick-service version of the incredibly popular dim sum restaurant. The menu isn’t as extensive as if you were sitting down in the restaurant, but still offers the top hits, like xiao long bao, noodle soups and roast duck. Just one problem: lines can be a little long.