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People sit at the El Tiempo Cantina location in the IAH airport.
IAH is welcoming more Tex-Mex options.
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Everything You Need to Know About Dining and Drinking at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

IAH offers a variety of dining options, including a new El Tiempo location in Terminal A and three new Starbucks Pick Up-only stations

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.

At this bustling airport, the dining options include everything 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.

What’s new:

  • IAH announced this month that it’s officially opened a location of Houston Tex-Mex staple El Tiempo Cantina in Terminal A near check-in. The menu is robust, with breakfast items like chilaquiles, tacos, and huevos rancheros served daily until 10:30 a.m., plus burritos, fajita tacos, burrito bowls, nachos, and chips with guac and queso. It also doesn’t skimp on the drinks — Find bartenders here pouring up around a dozen signature cocktails, including its top-shelf margaritas, plus beer and wine.
  • And just in time for the rush of the fall coffee season, George Bush Intercontinental Airport recently debuted its first pick-up-only establishment. IAH’s Terminal E has opened three locations of Starbucks Pick Up, at which travelers can place orders on mobile devices using the Starbucks app and then pick up their drinks and bites at the designated location without waiting in line for a cashier, according to a release. The new offering, a partnership between Starbucks and airport hospitality group OTG, will open additional locations this fall.

Terminal A

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. Add a boozy milkshake if you’re looking to get festive. [gate A26]

Best for breakfast and beyond: The Breakfast Klub

Houston favorite for breakfast sandwiches and wings and waffles. [gate A7]

The Rest:

  • Blaze Pizza – Fast-casual pizza and breakfast in the morning. [gate A7]
  • Cadillac Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar — Flyers looking to imbibe can down some Mexican fare and strong margaritas at this airport establishment. Inside scoop: Priority pass holders can show their ticket to get $28 to spend at the restaurant. [gate A17-A24]
  • Chick-Fil-A — [gate A17]
  • El Tiempo Cantina — Find Tex-Mex staples, including tacos, chilaquiles, margaritas, queso, and more. [check-in]
  • First Glass Bistro & Bar — Whether it be wine, a beer, cocktail, or coffee, stop by this bistro for a drink, plus bites from its full-service kitchen. [security checkpoint]
  • Great American Bagel — The Illinois-based bagel company offers its fresh bagels for travelers on the go. [near gates A1-A15]
  • Jack In The Box — [gate A7]
  • Liquid Provisions — Cocktail, beer, and wine bar with gastropub fare like charcuterie and smoked gouda mac & cheese. [gate A17]
  • Mockingbird Distillery & Smokehouse — Home of Tito’s Vodka, serving cocktails and food like breakfast, pulled pork sandwiches, and nachos. [near gate A15]
  • Panda Express — [gate A17]
  • Starbucks — [gate A7 and gate A17]
  • Subway— [Terminal A check-in]
  • Wendy’s — [gate A17]
  • Which Wich — [gate A7]
A man sitting at an airport bar that’s fully stocked with liquor.
Booze is a must at the airport.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Terminal B

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]

Best bet for barbecue: Q Bar

Houston pitmaster Greg Gatlin added another outpost during the pandemic, serving traditional Texas barbecue with mobile ordering capabilities. [gate B11]

Best bet for pizza: Tagliare

Thin crust and Sicilian-style pizza come out of piping hot ovens. [gate B1]

The Rest:

  • American Craft Tavern — Quick spot for grab-and-go snacks and salads, plus beer on tap and cocktails. [gate B83]
  • Bullritos — Customizable burritos, bowls, and tacos loaded with your choice of protein and stuffings. [gate B1]
  • Cafe Adobe — [gate B88]
  • Chick-Fil-A — [food court]
  • Freshii — Salads, wraps, bowls, burritos, frozen yogurt, and juices. [Terminal B food court]
  • Hard Rock Cafe — [gate B85]
  • Jason’s Deli — [gate B1]
  • Panda Express — [gate B1]
  • Peet’s Coffee & Tea — [pre-security, gate B85]
  • Pizza Hut — [food court]
  • Ray’s Fish and Shrimp Shack — A seafood joint dishing out fried fish, shrimp, hush puppies, and more. [food court]
  • Smashburger — [food court]
  • Starbucks — [gate B1]
  • SugarLand Beer Garden — Added during the pandemic, this bar serves brews and Bavarian options like pretzels and sausages. [gate B21]
  • Whataburger — Texas’ favorite fast-food burger joint. [gate B1]
Ember at IAH, with table-seating and a bar area with TV’s.
James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd serves up a quality dining experience at Ember at IAH.
Ellie Sharp/EHOU

Terminal C

Best bets from celebrated Houston chefs:

Pala — Chef Ryan Pera of Houston’s Coltivare Pizza & Garden serves up oven-fired pizzas with both creative (Brussels sprouts) and classic (pepperoni) toppings at this airport outpost. Here, dessert for breakfast is also not out of the question, so be sure to order the Nutella calzone. [gate C5]

Ember — Underbelly Hospitality, the restaurant group once helmed by James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Shepherd, offers hand-cut steaks, Gulf seafood dishes, and starters like smoked chicken wings for a decidedly quality alternative to generally lackluster airport fare. [security checkpoint]

Olio — James Beard Award-nominated chef Monica Pope’s restaurant focuses on locally sourced produce to make up a bevy of fresh salads, paninis, and more. [security checkpoint]

Q Bar — A smaller outpost of Houston pitmaster Greg Gatlin’s on-site restaurant Q. [gate C1]

Vida Taqueria — A part of the Ninfa family that’s credited with introducing the United States to fajitas in the 1970s, Houston chef Roland Laurenzo brings Tex-Mex in the form of tacos, fresh seafood, enchiladas, and guacamoles. [security checkpoint]

The Rest:

  • Agave Taqueria — [gate C33]
  • Alchemy Craft Cocktail — [gate C42]
  • El Premio Tex-Mex Bar & Grill — An offshoot of Houston’s Tex-Mex favorite El Tiempo that serves fajitas, queso, and fresh tortillas. [gate C34]
  • Forno Magico — Neapolitan-style pizzas. [gate C34]
  • Freshens — [gate C43]
  • H Burger Bar — A New Orleans and Houston-inspired burger joint from chef Antoine Ware. [gate C35]
  • Katz Coffee & Bistro — [security checkpoint, Terminal D)
  • Landry’s Seafood — Upscale Gulf seafood dishes from Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta’s Landry’s Hospitality. [gate C34]
  • Panda Express — [security checkpoint, Terminal C South]
  • Pick Up Stix — Asian American cuisine. [near security checkpoint]
  • Pink’s Pizza — Local pie joint with pizza by the slice and a full bar. [gate C42]
  • Poppy’s Bagels / Little Purse: Catch bagel sandwiches in the morning from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. before the restaurant transforms into its second concept in the afternoon, which serves up dumplings, ramen, and more. [near security checkpoint]
  • Potbelly Sandwich Shop — [gate C12]
  • Steak n’ Shake — [gate C34]
  • Starbucks — [security checkpoint, gates C1, C10, and C33]
  • Southern Belle — Fried chicken and breakfast favorites. [gate C44]
  • Wendy’s — [gate C12]
  • Which Wich — [gate C34]
The exterior of H Burger Bar at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.
Chef Antoine Ware makes his mark at H Burger Bar in Terminal C with juicy burgers that will make your layover well worth the wait.

Terminal D

Best bets from celebrated Houston chefs:

Hugo’s Cocina — Award-winning Houston chef Hugo Ortega’s airport restaurant offers tortas, salads, chips and guacamole, and cocktails like blueberry mojitos. [gate D6]

The Rest:

  • Bayou City Bar — [check-in area]
  • Byte: Fresh Grab and Go — [check-in area]
  • Ciao Gourmet Market — This quick service station offers snacks, fine chocolates, and salads and sandwiches to go. [gate D8]
  • Peet’s Coffee — [gate D6]

Terminal E

Best Bets:

  • Starbucks Pick-Up Only — When in a rush, avoid a line and place your order ahead of time on the Starbucks app, which allows travelers to grab and go from one of three locations. [gate E2]
  • 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]
  • Q — Experience Houston pitmaster Greg Gatlin’s barbecue and smoked meat creations, ranging from brisket to ribs and more. [gate E2]
  • Pappasito’s Cantina — A margarita and big bowl of queso served with chips will serve pretty much any pre-flight anxiety. [gate E1]
  • Pappadeaux’s Seafood Kitchen — Houston-born chain slinging Cajun and Creole dishes. [gate E3]
  • Yogen Fruz — Frozen yogurt treats ranging from smoothies to bowls with various flavors and toppings. [gate E1]

The Rest:

  • Auntie Anne’s Pretzels — [gate E12]
  • Cinnabon — [gate E12]
  • Custom Burgers — As the name would imply, expect customizable burgers, plus breakfast options in the morning. [gate E2]
  • Dunkin’ Donuts — [gate E11]
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels — [gate 1]
  • El Premio — [gate E5)
  • Gavi — Pizza, pasta, and more Italian dishes with an outdoor patio vibe. [gate E14]
  • Houston Wheelhouse — Tex-Mex dishes like nachos and fajitas, plus a full bar. [gate E19]
  • Katz Coffee and Bistro — [security checkpoint]
  • Livefire Burger — [security checkpoint]
  • The Market by Villa — Salads, wraps, sandwiches, and fresh fruit. [gate E3]
  • Panda Express — [gate E1, E24]
  • Schlotzsky’s Deli — [gate E24]
  • Starbucks — [gate E2]
  • Subway — [gate E1]
  • Tanglewood Grill — Steaks, buildable burgers, seafood, and craft beers in an upscale space. [gate E23]
  • Wendy’s — [gate E24]
  • World Nectar — Fresh squeezed juices and smoothies. [gate E1]
  • Yume — The market and bar offer Japanese fare, including sushi and ramen. [gate E11]

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