Featured in Thrillist: The Ultimate Guide to the JFK Airport

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As the largest airport in New York State and the sixth busiest in the country, if you’re flying in or out of the Big Apple during the 2022 holidays season, there’s a good chance it’ll be through John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Opened in 1948 in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, the world-famous JFK Airport serves millions of passengers annually (with a record number of 62 million in 2019) through six terminals, 131 gates, and four runways. And recently, a billion dollar renovation initiative—which launched in 2018 and is expected to run through 2030—promises to improve the quality of JFK’s facilities via new indoor greenspaces, public art, renewable energy technologies, and more.

So whether you’re looking for overnight accommodations before an early flight or are in search of reliable spots for pre-boarding bites and cocktails, here’s our ultimate guide on everywhere to eat, drink, hang, and more at John F. Kennedy International Airport in NYC.

Bus: If yellow cabs or ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft are out of your budget, one option is hopping on an MTA bus via routes B15, Q3, Q6, Q7, or Q10.

Subway and AirTrain: Otherwise, the easiest and most cost-effective way is via the subway and AirTrain that’ll cost a total of $10.75.

If coming from Manhattan, hop on the Far Rockaway-bound A train (make sure it’s not the Ozone Park-Lefferts Blvd bound A train, and if you mistakenly take this one, simply get off at the Rockaway Boulevard stop on to transfer to the Far Rockaway-bound one). Then, transfer to the AirTrain at the Howard Beach Station.

If coming from other city locations, take the Jamaica Center-bound subway lines of the E, J, or Z trains to Sutphin Boulevard/Archer Avenue/JFK Airport to then transfer to the AirTrain.

Breakfast: Alongside classics like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts—which can be found in almost every terminal—stop by the H&H Bagels in the food hall of Terminal 5 for artisanal BECs and lox; or Croque Madame in Terminal 2 for crepes and quiches. Other popular eateries include La Brea Bakery in Terminal 4 for breads and pastries; and Apartment 7B in Terminal 7 for grab-n-go sandwiches plus coffee and teas.

Lunch and dinner: Crush some of that extra wait time with a leisurely feast at The Palm Bar & Grille in Terminal 4 for salads, seafood, and steaks. Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s (Red Rooster) American bistro, Uptown Brasserie, is also in Terminal 4 and serves everything from chicken sandwiches and grilled salmon to grits and pancakes. Also, the menu at AeroNueva in Terminal 5 was created by chef Mark Ladner (Pasta Flyer), and includes Italian offerings like Spaghetti & Meatballs and Chicken Milanese. Launched with the help of chef Robby Cook (Morimoto), Shiso in Terminal 2 serves Japanese items including specialty rolls.

If in a time crunch, Terminal 1 offers Turkish food from Eat & Go Istanbul/New York; Korean and Japanese bites from JikJi Cafe; and Asian fare like ramen and dumplings from Soy and Sake.

At Terminal 2, there’s charcuterie and pastas at Due Amici, as well as slices from Tagliare, which is run by the son of legendary Dom DeMarco who founded Di Fara Pizza.

In Terminal 4, Mexican fare like burritos, tacos, and more can be found at Mi Casa Cantina and Restaurant, plus burgers and fries from an outpost of the NYC-born Shake Shack.

Terminal 5 is home to everything from Pan-Caribbean dishes at Caribbean Kitchen and to-go sashimi from Deep Blue on the Fly to locations of Big Apple favorites including Artichoke Pizza and Baked By Melissa.

Within Terminal 7, burgers are the specialty at True Burger and no-fuss sandwiches and salads are at the ready from Apartment 7B.

Finally, Terminal 8 features options like the automated fridge service of Farmer’s Fridge, which is stocked with veggie-forward salads, wraps, and bowls; Bobby Van’s Steakhouse for American fare including sandwiches and chops; and Mezze Cafe, which serves up paninis and baked goods.