Boasting an award-winning retail program, new luxe lounges, a fitness center, and even its own baggage-claim concert series, Baltimore Washington Thurgood-Marshall International Airport (BWI) is reaching new heights. And perhaps one of the most exciting aspects of the ever-expanding global gateway—whose passenger rates hit an all-time high of 25.1 million last year—is its dining options, which continue to thrive with a mix of approachable chains and local spinoffs.
“It’s important to us that the airport represent the best that the Baltimore area has to offer,” says Brett Kelly, vice president of Airmall MD, which oversees all of BWI’s retail and dining operations. “Some travelers might only get to experience Baltimore though a connecting flight here, or some might have experienced a great restaurant while visiting, so we want to recreate that in the most authentic way possible.”
Offering everything from craft beer and wine to sushi and seafood, the airport’s eateries provide options to satisfy any craving. As passenger rates continue to increase, Airmall has also made it a priority to throw healthy options into the mix.
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“It used to be that travelers would give themselves a pass on healthy eating when on the road,” Kelly says. “Not so, anymore. They expect that they will have choices to meet their needs, whether that’s vegetarian, gluten-free, or low-carb. Today, you can find healthy options at an overwhelming majority of our restaurants. It’s an issue that we’ve worked hard to evolve on.”
Whether you’re in need of a quick bite or searching for a spot to kill time during a layover, we’ve broken down our picks for the top spots to hit while passing through BWI this summer—no matter what you’re in the mood for.
Tapas and sushi are all well and good, but nothing satisfies hunger quite like a hearty burger. This homegrown chain—with locations scattered everywhere from Columbia to Annapolis—keeps it simple, layering juicy patties with customizable toppings including sautéed mushrooms, grilled pineapple, fried eggs, and applewood-smoked bacon. You can’t go wrong pairing your burger with an order of garlic fries, and adding a classic chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry shake for good measure. Where to find it: The purple storefront is in Concourse B after security. 410-859-1900
Complete with jukeboxes, neon lighting, tiled floors, and comfy booth seating, this old-school standby is an ideal choice for fueling up for a flight. Make your way up to the counter to order a breakfast platter, triple-decker sandwich, or a round of all-American sliders. While the menu lists plenty of classics, the Rockville-based restaurant has also kept up with the times with organic bison and veggie burgers, as well as colorful salads and a selection of vegan entrees. Where to find it: You can’t miss the striking silver exterior, located just off of the main terminal in the food court in Concourse B. 410-694-0990
Craft Beer Concepts
DuClaw Brewing Co.
Though this veteran Baltimore brewery decided to downsize its restaurant footprint a few years back, its BWI brewpub is still going strong—serving grub like wings, burgers, nachos, flatbreads, and crab pretzels. Enjoy all of the eats while sipping DuClaw favorites including the Sweet Baby Jesus peanut butter porter, Hellrazer IPA, and Misfit Red amber ale. Where to find it: Spot the massive illuminated DuClaw logo overhead while strolling toward Concourse B. 410-845-4846
Flying Dog Tap House
Speaking of pioneering local breweries, this Frederick favorite will debut its first restaurant inside of the airport at the end of July. In partnership with Monkton-based Roseda Farm beef, the restaurant will feature Flying Dog releases on tap (think Raging Bitch IPA, Numero Uno Agave Cerveza, Bloodline Blood Orange ale, and the like), as well as dishes that fuse both brands. Be on the lookout for options like a beef hot dog with Doggie Style Pale Ale beer cheese, and sliders with garlic aioli made with Snake Dog IPA. Where to find it: The new wood-stained storefront sits just past the food court in Concourse A.
The Firkin & Flyer
Thanks to this funky spot, passengers traveling to Europe can experience their destination before even leaving the airport. The British pub highlights authentic eats like fish and chips, beef and stout stew, and bangers and mash, along with plenty of American options including burgers and wraps. The beer lineup is equally expansive, highlighting everything from local brews to traditional British ales. Where to find it: Keep an eye out for the Union Jack flags just off of the main terminal in the Concourse B/C connector. 410-582-8308
Start things off with a strong margarita and an order of chips and salsa at this Latin American-inspired cantina. Aside from a list of colorful cocktails, the restaurant offers Southwest salads, burritos, sizzling fajitas, and fish tacos. Where to find it: Zona is stationed directly next to Silver Diner on Concourse B. 410-850-4846
DIY pizza chains seem to be all the rage these days, and now, travelers at BWI can partake in the trend. Diners can choose from a variety of crusts, sauces, and toppings (everything from Canadian bacon to caramelized onions), or pick from a menu of the chef’s combinations. Where to find it: The pizza place is sandwiched between Subway and DC-3 Gourmet Hot Dogs in Concourse B. 410-850-8989
Tony + Benny’s Pizza
Get a little taste of Brooklyn by way of BWI at this old-school Italian concept. Inspired by Old World recipes, the menu lists signature slices, stromboli, salads, and pastas, as well as its own case of grab-and-go items if you’re in a hurry. Where to find it: The quick-service spot, which debuted earlier this year, sits in Concourse A just past the Gachi Sushi kiosk and Pinkberry Yogurt. 410-553-4346
Snag a stool at this trendy sushi bar to watch chefs prepare pretty plates ranging from salads and shumai to tuna carpaccio and steamed mussels. Alongside classics like California and Philadelphia rolls, the menu lists its own odes to Charm City—including the Orioles Roll (shrimp, avocado, creamy crab meat, caviar, and eel sauce) and the Chesapeake Roll topped with Maryland crab dip. Where to find it: Gachi operates a bar in Concourse A, and has its own grab-and-go kiosk with packaged rolls in Concourse B. 410-859-4285
Nothing says Bawlmer like this 73-year-old crab cake institution. Though Obrycki’s eventually outgrew its Fells Point flagship, the legacy lives on at BWI. The sit-down spot—which recently underwent a $1 million makeover—features classics including shrimp salad sandwiches, Old Bay wings, and, of course, jumbo-lump crab cakes. If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, swing by the bar to down drafts, or enjoy signature cocktails like a rye old-fashioned and citrus cosmopolitan. Where to find it: Obrycki’s Restaurant sits between gates seven and nine in Concourse B, while the bar is stationed next to Gate 10 in Concourse A. 410-859-5723
Just last month, the Obrycki’s team also unveiled this new sister-spot featuring sustainable seafood and local raw bar offerings. It is yet another spot to get your hands on the family’s famous crab cakes, but the new bar also highlights fresh-shucked oysters, little neck clams, and steamed-seasoned shrimp. Where to find it: The restaurant joins the pack in Concourse D next to Starbucks. 443-883-3752
Brix & Vine
Whether you’re waiting out a layover, or experiencing the dreaded delay, this new bar has you covered with an international wine list and expert servers to guide you through the sampling process. Sip selections from regions as far as South Africa and New Zealand while snacking on salads, steaks, and specialty sandwiches. Where to find it: Head to Concourse D after going through security to find the brick façade adorned with plenty of decorative wine bottles. 410-834-7256
Wheel your carry-on into this sleek fine-dining den, which offers a lengthy selection of worldly wines by the glass, flight, or bottle. The bar pairs all of the vino with sophisticated snacks including charcuterie platters, burrata, smoked salmon crostini, beet salads, and lamb meatballs. Where to find it: Curve around the food court in Concourse A to snag a window seat with views overlooking the runway. 410-691-2215