Charlotte Airport Food: The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Drinking at CLT

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Photo credit: Cindy Richards

Welcoming passenger traffic of nearly 48 million in 2022, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport ranks as one of the busiest airports in the USA. For those traveling to or through North Carolina, it’s likely one of your stops. But, it’s not a bad place to be thanks to rows of rocking chairs in the airport’s common space and an abundance of food to keep your hunger at bay.

Get to Know CLT Airport

Before we explore the food and drink options available at the Charlotte airport, let’s get to know CLT. The airport location is 5501 Josh Birmingham Pkwy close to uptown Charlotte. A hub for American Airlines, the Charlotte airport features one passenger terminal with 115 gates spread across five concourses.

And in those concourses, numerous eateries await. Whether you’re seeking fast food or a laid-back experience in the American Express Centurion Lounge, you’ll find it all at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Sticking around in North Carolina? Stay at one of these great North Carolina resorts.

Variety Matters at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

From cajun to BBQ to soups to Mexican cuisine, this Nascar headquarter delivers an abundance of choices for dining. Whether you prefer fast food or a Charlotte airport original, you’ll find something to nosh on at CLT Airport.

In addition, HMSHost – which operates many of the concessions here – promises more eateries in the near future. Let’s take a look at some of the CLT Airport highlights.

Highlights in the CLT Atrium

With only one terminal, CLT’s concourses branch out for the airport’s center Atrium. Here the dining options present an array of choices.

1897 Market serves food ranging from grits to oysters to shrimp and wood-fired pizzas. In addition to dining, 1897 Market features an assortment of gifts worth perusing during your time here. Need a DIY cocktail kit? You’ll find that here.

Prefer to start your flight with a glass of wine or two? Check out Beaudevin where chandeliers made from wine glasses set the scene. This elevated wine bar features varietals from around the globe. Pair your choice of wine with elegant small plates. Options include melon and prosciutto, Scottish smoked salmon and charcuterie and feta meze. For more substantial eats, try one of Beaudevin’s signature paninis or a flatbread pizza.

Need a Carolina barbecue fix? Find your way to Brookwood Farms BBQ in the Atrium. Choose from hickory-smoked meats and those tasty sides like coleslaw and baked beans.

If time is limited, fast food options in the Atrium include the always popular Chick-fil-A. If a sub is more your style, Jersey Mike’s will take care of your hunger. The Atrium also houses Dunkin Donuts, Cinnabon, Red Mango and Papa John’s.

Exploring The Plaza at CLT

Built in 2019, The Plaza at CLT spans 51,000-square-feet near Concourse D and Concourse E. This welcome new addition to CLT’s food scene includes Auntie Anne’s, Bojangles’, Potbelly Sandwich Shop and Shake Shack.

For beer lovers, Wicked Weed – an Asheville-based brewing company – serves an enticing selection of craft beers. While Wicked Weed’s location in The Plaza doesn’t serve food, patrons are welcome to grab food elsewhere and bring it to the bar to enjoy with a beer.

Concourse A

For those flying out of Concourse A, Rhino Market features a wide variety of options. This neighborhood market and deli provides a selection of locally-made foods, cheese, chocolates and delicious baked goods. While you can grab-and-go with these local treats, you can also hang out and enjoy a cup of coffee from Charlotte brewers. Or, enjoy a beer or a glass of wine.

For more local flavor, consider Charlotte’s NoDa Brewing Company. Enjoy a local craft beer as you nosh on flatbreads and tacos. NoDa Brewing Company also features to-go cans and grab-and-go food. Another Charlotte original, the Broken Spoke serves as a cocktail bar on wheels for Concourse A.

On the menu at Black and Blue Bar in Concourse A are oysters, calamari, tacos, quesadillas, burgers, salads, veggies and more.

Fast food in Concourse A includes Cinnabon, Jamba Juice, Panera Bread, Smashburger, Wendy’s and Starbucks in the A connector.

Concourse B

Yes, Bojangles is a fast-food chain, but if you’re craving fried chicken and biscuits, it’s the place to go. For fewer calories, the Farmer’s Market in Concourse B provides quick bites in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables and prepared meals. (Also in Concourses C, D & the Rotunda.)

Another healthy option, Summer House includes a sit-down restaurant, full bar and grab-and-go selections. On the menu you’ll find California-inspired entrees including fish tacos, avocado toast, grilled salmon and California wines.

Rounding out your options in Concourse B are the Great American Bagel shop and Starbucks.

Concourse C

Hungry for a burger? Head to Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar for a variety of burger options ranging from a veggie burger to the menu star – the Baconaisse featuring jalapeno and Applewood-smoked bacon strips atop a cheeseburger. Too much? Create your own custom burger instead. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar also features salads, sandwiches and tasty fried pickles.

For something less calorie-dense, consider Fresh Attractions featuring sandwiches, salads, soups and pizza along with beer, wine and cocktails.

Another Concourse C option, Chalice Cafe is a Stella Artois bar with an elevated food menu offering items such as chicken pesto flatbread and Greek wedge salad. Phillips Famous Seafood, TCBY and Starbucks are also located in Concourse C.

Concourse D

Yes, Starbucks seems to be everywhere and while that’s fine with me, if you’re looking for an alternative, grab a Durham-based Counter Culture Coffee at Commonspace. If you’re flying in the evening, Commonspace doubles as a cocktail bar. (Located n the D/E Connector)

The airport location of Carolina Beer Company in Concourse D is a popular spot while dining on pub favorites like burgers, nachos and wings. Featuring a full bar, beer, wine and cocktails are available.

Prefer a quick bite of sushi? Hissho Sushi in Concourse D serves a selection of sushi rolls, higiri and sashimi.

For pastries, sandwiches, salads and soup, Ciao Bakery & Cafe adds to our Concourse D choices.

Concourse E

No visit to Charlotte would be complete without a mention of NASCAR. Whisky River – the sit-down restaurant of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. – is located in the Concourse E Rotunda. Enjoy tequila BBQ wings, pork nachos, Whisky River Chili and many other indulgences. There’s also live music to add to the good-time vibe.

Looking for an IPA, head to Sycamore Brewing and sample the Mountain Candy Beer – an IPA with infused fruit flavors. Dining options here include breakfast farmhouse skillets and chicken and grits – it’s a Southern thing!

For even more bar food offerings, Captain Jack’s Tavern features wings burger, nachos and a full bar for beer, wine and cocktails. But the highlight of this tavern is beer from the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery which is made according to old German purity standards. Cheers!

Based in New York City, Terri Marshall is an award-winning writer covering cultural travel, multi-generational travel, road trips, soft-adventure, camping, cars and characters. From hanging out with penguins in Antarctica to fishing for piranhas in Peru to road-tripping through the jungles of Belize, Terri’s always up for an adventure. Drop her into a landscape filled with mountains, towering evergreens, waterfalls and a glacier or two and she’ll be in heaven. But what thrills her most of all is traveling with her teenage grandkids. Terri serves on the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Committee for the North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA). She also serves as the First Vice-Chair of the Eastern Chapter for the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). In addition to writing for SheBuysTravel, Terri’s publication credits include AARP, Island Soul, Girl Camper Magazine, A Girls Guide to Cars, CHILLED, World Footprints, North Hills Monthly, Alaska Business Monthly, Alaska Contractor and more. Follow her on Instagram at TrippingWithTerri.
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