You’ve probably heard the expression “any port in a storm” before. You could easily change that to “any airport bar in a delay,” because they all have the magic ingredient: booze.
But while any airport watering hole will get the job done, some lounges take the in-terminal drinking and dining experience to absurd new levels. The very best incorporate regional elements that make you feel as though you’ve gotten a little taste of the local people and places—even if you never made it out of the airport. Which for most of us traveling to connecting cities is usually the case.
Here are a few airport bars around the country that’ll make you forget about your delay.
San Francisco International Airport, sfuncorkd.com/
Imagine a library, but replace all the books with wine or beer bottles. That pretty well sums up the décor—and the raison d’etre—at SFO’s Uncork’d lounge. The farm-to-table menu of eats is solid. But the wine flights are really what sets this spot apart.
CIGAR CITY BREWING
Tampa International Airport, cigarcitybrewing.com
The first of several craft brewery outposts on this list, Cigar City’s spot doesn’t have the greatest eats or the most creative atmosphere. But if you’re looking for a good brew—and one last taste of Florida before you jet off to chillier climes—this is your stop.
STONE BREWING CO.
San Diego International Airport, stonebrewing.com
Whether you’re a San Diego resident (Ron Burgundy voice: “San Diegan?”) or you’ve just been visiting, leaving this laid-back coastal paradise probably has you in a drinking mood. Fortunately, local heavy hitter Stone Brewing has an airport outpost where you can wet your whistle with some of the best craft brews in America.
ONE FLEW SOUTH
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, oneflewsouthatl.com
Sooner or later, we all have to fly into or through Atlanta. In terms of the number of people who pass through, it’s the world’s busiest airport. Fortunately, it’s home to one of the world’s best airport bars in One Flew South. Great sushi. Superior cocktails. Pork Belly Sliders that will make you re-book your existing flights so they detour through ATL.
ROGUE ALES PUBLIC HOUSE
Portland International Airport, rogue.com
Portland’s airport—like the city it serves—is a packed with delicious, thoughtful, locally sourced goodies. But for craft beer fans, Rogue’s pub has to be the highlight. Dead Guy Ale, Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout, and all of the brewery’s greatest hits are on tap.
HIGH WEST SALOON
Salt Lake City International, highwest.com
The cocktail and sandwiches are solid. But really, this spot is all about the “brown.” Start with the Double Rye, and work your way up or down the menu from there. You won’t be disappointed.
Denver International Airport, http://cruawinebar.com/
Denver is, proudly and unmistakably, a beer city. If you’re leaving the Mile High City, you’re probably ready to pass on another pint in favor of something a little less, well, hoppy. Crú has you covered. Their wine list includes more than 300 bottles, and their tasting flights are well curated.
SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM
St. Louis Lambert International Airport, schlafly.com
St. Louis’s favorite local brewery has two airport outposts. If you’re a beer aficionado and this craft-scene superstar has thus far flown under your radar, you’ll want to schedule time for a stop. You can’t miss with their Oatmeal Stout and Pale Ale. But if you have time for more, try one of their awesome seasonal offerings.
TOOTSIE’S ORCHID LOUNGE
Nashville International Airport, tootsies.net
Is this spot a pale imitation of “Music City’s” famed bar scene? Sure. But it still offers a shot of authentic charm. Watching local performers cover the country classics also beats the hell out of watching captioned broadcasts of PTI, which is what you’d get at most airport bars.