If you’re rushing between flights, I won’t make you wait. Here is the cliff-notes version of the answer:
- Best Coffee: Starbucks or Peet’s. There are not really any artisan coffee joints at Sea-Tac.
- Best Quick Bite: Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (sandwiches, mac & cheese, or soup).
- Best Sit-Down Restaurant: Lucky Louie Fish Shack if you want seafood, Rel’Lish Burger Lounge if you don’t.
- Best For Alcohol: Ballard Brew Hall (not great, but it’s what we’ve got)
However, if you have a minute to sit down and read, there are many more options to choose from in this gigantic airport.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is one of the ten largest airports in the United States and served over 36 million passengers in 2021.
If you’re one of the millions who will be passing through, you’ll probably be hungry or want some coffee, especially if you have a layover for a few hours.
With TSA lines being what they are sometimes, I don’t recommend leaving to get a meal unless you’re staying more than a few hours. Luckily, there are several great options for food and drinks inside the airport itself.
Before We Begin…
There are a few things I should explain before I start actually naming my favorite shops and locations.
Speaking of location, that’s the biggest one. If you only have a limited amount of time, you should choose a place that is close to either your arrival gate or your departure gate.
Getting around is pretty time-consuming in such a large airport so you’re usually better off finding average food where you are than traveling across the airport looking for something marginally better.
Checking the official clocks everywhere won’t hurt either. Recently I was passing through Seatac with a friend and she was standing in line to get a snack. I realized I didn’t fix my watch for the time change and I had to tell her to put it down so we could run to the gate all the way across the airport. Bad times.
Now, if you’re leaving from Seattle (and not on a connecting flight) you’ll go through the TSA screening, and find yourself in what SeaTac Airport calls “The Main Terminal,” although it’s also referred to as “The Central Terminal.”
From there, you’ll have access to the A, B, C, and D gates directly. For the N and S satellites, you’ll have to go downstairs and take the monorail shuttle.
The shuttles arrive every couple of minutes, but if you only have an hour or so, you might not have time to leave the N gates, eat in a sit-down restaurant in the A gates, and then return for your flight.
That’s why I’m splitting this guide into the following categories: coffee, fast food, quick bites/pre-packaged food, restaurants, and alcohol.
If you’re a Starbucks fan (which I am not, but that’s okay), you’ll have no problem finding a cup at the airport.
There are eight Starbucks locations in the airport. Three are found before you enter security and five are after the TSA screening checkpoints.
The A, B, C, and D gates all have their own stands, plus a “Starbucks Evenings” location in the central terminal that features pastries, teas, and even local beer and wine options.
If you don’t care for Starbucks, there are also other coffee options. Caffe D’arte, in both the A and N gates, not only offers coffee, but pizza, grilled sandwiches, and grab-and-go items.
If you’re in the S gates, your options are fairly limited, unfortunately. There’s a Peet’s Coffee stand between S3 and S4.
For fast food, your best options are Wendy’s and McDonald’s, although there are a few others you can choose if you have a little more time.
Wendy’s is my personal favorite, but it’s in the N Gates, so it may not be convenient for shorter flights.
McDonald’s is easily accessible for most flights since it’s in the B gates just a few feet from the main terminal.
For both of these, you’ll want to use the kiosks off to the side instead of ordering directly at the counter, as it’s much faster. Wendy’s always has a long line but if you’re paying cash, you’ll have to pay at the counter as the machines are card-only.
Qdoba is technically “fast-casual” but I consider it fast food. It’s about fifty feet from McDonald’s, but the lines are a little too long for me.
Unfortunately, there’s no fast food at the S gates, so you’ll have to take the train to the B gates for McDonald’s or a connecting train to the N gates for Wendy’s.
Quick Bites/Pre-Packaged Food
If you really don’t have a lot of time or if you just want a snack, there are a few places where you can grab a sandwich or something small and take it to the gate.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in the C gates is an excellent choice. I’m a huge fan of their brie in particular. They also have great hot sandwiches if you have the time.
Camden Food Company in the D gates is another great option for snacks, cold sandwiches, and hot or cold drinks.
If you have a decent amount of time, you might enjoy a restaurant, most of which will let you get food to-go if you’d prefer to eat at your gate.
The Lucky Louie Fish Shack in the main terminal is a great place to eat some locally caught seafood if you’re in the mood. The halibut fish and chips is my favorite and I try to order one when I have the time.
Rel’Lish Burger Lounge in the B gates has a terrific selection, as well as some healthier options in a grab-and-go case out front.
For the N gates, the Tundra Taqueria has some amazing tacos and churros, as well as a breakfast empanada if you’re traveling in the mornings.
The S gates offer the Dungeness Bay Seafood House and the Greedy Cow Burger, both of which have many delicious offerings.
I think I’m legally obligated to preface this with a reminder that you should drink responsibly and they’ll throw you off the plane if you’re too drunk.
The Ballard Brew Hall in the D gates is a full-service bar that offers beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as some food. Just expect to wait awhile because, every time I’ve been here, they seem to be no rush whatsoever.
Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen and Bar in the N gates is another great option if you just want a quick drink and don’t have time to take the train to the main terminal.
For the S gates, Tap and Pour has a selection of excellent local craft beers for sale, although you can also find additional drink selections at either of the two restaurants.
These are just a few of the places to eat and drink at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. They also happen to be my favorites.
If you have a layover of six hours or more, you can also take the light rail or an Uber into town to get some food if you’d like.
Anything less than that, at least in my opinion, will be cutting it too close and you’ll risk missing your flight.
There are many great food options at the airport and, taking transportation and time costs into account, you’re very probably better off just eating at the airport.
No matter where you choose to eat, I hope you have a wonderful time visiting SeaTac Airport and we can’t wait to see you soon!