Airplane food is rarely fulfilling, especially when traveling long distances. Luckily, there are plenty of eateries within a few miles of Orlando International Airport (MCO), all of which can satiate hungry travelers and provide a solid dining experience. Whether you're grabbing a quick bite to eat on the way to catch a plane, staying in a nearby Holiday Inn the night before an early flight, or returning to Florida, these spots are significantly more delicious than whatever is served on the flight (and they don’t include McDonald’s or Chick-fil-a).
Carrabba's Italian Grill
Just north of the MCO airport is an outpost of Carrabba's Italian Grill, a family-friendly Italian chain that's open for lunch and dinner. This location in Gateway Village offers free Wi-Fi, late-night eats and an online wait list that allows diners to join the queue before even arriving at the restaurant. It's an ideal stop on the way to the airport or after landing from a long flight, and even picky eaters will find something delicious on the lengthy menu, which focuses on pasta, seafood and meat dishes. Opt for one of the budget-inclined lunch combos when dining earlier in the day, or arrive for happy hour, which runs from 3 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.
Fish on Fire
Head west out of Orlando International Airport to Fish on Fire, a Florida-style smokehouse and grill. The local BBQ spot has been open since 2004 and features live music and tons of seafood dishes. It's open daily for lunch and dinner – serving food until 1 a.m. on the weekends – and there's a brunch menu offered for those who arrive earlier in the day. Try something local to Central Florida, like the fried Gulf Grouper Fingers Basket or the Allies Gator Basket, which features actual alligator.
Chow down on an order of pancakes at IHOP before heading to Orlando International Airport. The spot has plenty of nearby free parking and Wi-Fi, and it's easy to feel satiated by the iconic breakfast menu. Select from waffles, pancakes or other breakfast items, or opt for a burger or sandwich. IHOP features a "55 Plus" menu for seniors, which can be a great bargain, and there's also an extensive kids' menu (great for those arriving in Orlando for a good old fashioned Disney trip)!
Cure your post-flight fatigue with some Korean fried chicken at Bonchon Orlando, a casual chain spot located north in Gateway Village. It's got plenty of options for those looking for a quick fix, including fried chicken and chicken wings, which can be ordered in massive batches of 30, if you're famished. Grab one of the combo lunch specials, or keep it light with a soup and salad. The chicken can take up to 30 minutes to cook, so be sure to allot enough time if dining before a flight.
A nicer place to dine is Hemisphere Restaurant. Located on the ninth level of the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport and just one mile from the Orlando International airport, customers consider this spot a “hidden gem.” Meals are seasonal, and they include handcrafted dishes that use fresh, local ingredients. This is one of the best restaurants you can visit near the airport if you want a bit of a nicer dining experience. Hemisphere is also near the lake Nona region and downtown Orlando, so there is no shortage of things to do nearby if you have time to kill.
Meat lovers can get their fix at Longhorn Steakhouse (not to be confused with Outback Steakhouse), which is located next to the Hampton Inn and Suites Orlando Airport Hotel. It's open for lunch and dinner, serving up burgers, steaks, salads and sandwiches. Grab a lunch combo during the day, or consider splurging on one of the chain's so-called "Legendary Steaks." This location offers "Call-Ahead Waiting," which means you can add your name to the wait list before arrival.
If none of the options suggested above sound appealing to you, check out the menu of a few others. Other restaurants not mentioned above that are near Orlando International Airport include Chili’s Grill & Bar, Denny’s, Cracker Barrel, and Bonefish Grill.
Traveling can be a stressful experience, and you don’t want the feeling of being “hangry” to make it any worse. All in all, if you find yourself in Orlando, FL 32827, otherwise known as MCO airport, you might want to try one of these restaurants to treat yourself to some great food before or after your flight!