Welcome to Dining Guides, an intermittent series on the many dining hubs around the greater Phoenix area and what they have to offer. Breakfast to drinks, quick coffee to sit-down dining, we break down some of our favorite places in each neighborhood. Today, we want to zero in on Terminal 4.
We’ve seen Terminal 4's dining options grow up quite a bit in the past few years. There have been airport locations of some of the best Valley restaurants opening nonstop, including La Grande Orange, Cowboy Ciao, and Barrio Café. Suddenly, T4 became a dining hub.
But there can almost be too many options, especially for those in a hurry coming and going from Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Condor Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Volaris, and WestJet. Here’s a quick guide to a fast coffee before that first flight to lunch while killing time during a layover.
Coffee is spotted on almost every menu in the terminal, but if you really need caffeine, and really want to keep it local, head to Cartel. It opens at 4:30 a.m. and offers espresso, filter drip, tea, and pastries. Find Cartel post-security neighboring C13.
Is the line crazy, or are you elsewhere in the terminal? A good backup is The Refuge Coffee Food & Wine at B9.
The obvious choice here is Matt’s Big Breakfast — probably the best breakfast place in Phoenix even outside Sky Harbor. It serves breakfast all day, and the cage-free eggs are “cracked to order.”
Treat yourself to the cheese omelet, salami scramble, or Five Spot Platter. But if you’re really trying to sleep on the plane, order Matt’s Biggest Breakfast — three eggs, two strips of thick-cut bacon, two sausage patties, the homefries, and a griddlecake. Find Matt’s post-security near B5.
Other breakfast spots include the 24 hours Wildflower Bread Company (pre-security and at A9) and La Madeleine by B22.
What makes brunch different from breakfast is the pace at which you enjoy it. Breakfast can be scarfed, while brunch can take hours — often with the help of a big meal or morning cocktail.
Near C11, Zinc Brasserie has a breakfast menu going till 10 a.m., which you can couple with a Zinc Bloody Mary or just a morning red. But you might want to first line your stomach with the Zinc Omelette, Crème Brûlée French Toast, or the classic breakfast dish.
Other mid-morning stops include La Grande Orange at D1, pre-security’s Lo-Lo's Chicken & Waffles (go for Aunt Portia’s Chicken Omelet), and Nocawich at C2 (go for that Fried Chicken Sando).
When airport dining, lunch is the best meal. It’s midday, your surroundings are bustling, and you’ve had time to accept you’ll be overpaying for that chicken salad or plate of tacos. So go nuts.
Lunch options abound at Terminal 4. Find tacos and enchiladas at Sir Veza's Taco Garage at C13 and Los Taquitos at C3, or grab that famous salad, the Stetson Chopped, from Cowboy Ciao at B22.
You’ll also find upscale burgers at Delux at A22, plus gluten-free options at Chelsea’s Kitchen or a straight-up barbecue sampler plate at Joe's Real BBQ — both pre-security.
Airports have gotten real good at the express counter or grab-and-go versions of its resident restaurants, and Terminal 4 is the best example of this at Sky Harbor.
For a quick taste of local Phoenix fare, hit Cowboy Ciao Express at B3, Zinc Brasserie Grab & Go at A1 (as well as Le Petit Zinc at C11), Mission Grab & Go at B17, Nocawich Express at C3, Dilly's Deli at A7, and more.
Barrio Café at Terminal 4 at the entry to the D gates is, as it states, open every day, from the first flight to the last. That means you can swing in for the famed tableside guacamole and pair it with morning drinks like the guava or mango mimosa and the Bloody Maria.
But of course, margaritas reign supreme here, so be sure to try the Margarita de la Casa, or get adventurous with the Flor De Jamaica Margarita or the Chata — Agua de Horchata, Crema 1921, Kahlua, and tequila.
If you’re more of a beer drinker, you're in luck: Four Peaks Brewery is accessible at Terminal 4. Head to A20 for pint of the famed Kilt Lifter, Peach Ale, or Hop Knot. There’s also some upscale pub fare like the Barrel Fries in case a long flight lies ahead.
Not that you could go to Sky Harbor for dinner, but you’d almost want to thanks to a smattering of local restaurants throwing open the doors to its restaurant locations.
This is especially the case for Cowboy Ciao (B22), as it’s now the only location of the former Scottsdale restaurant. The menu still yields the aforementioned Stetson Salad, as well as the West Coast Wrap, pastrami-style smoked short ribs, and filet mignon. And you’ll not want to pass on signature cocktails like Serge Gainsbourg, It’s a Rye Heat, or the Michelada Ultra.
Other Terminal 4 dinner spots include Blanco Tacos & Tequila at A5 and Olive & Ivy at A3, plus Zinc Brasserie, Chelsea's Kitchen, and Cheuvront Restaurant & Wine Bar.
For many of us, a trip to the airport could mean vacation mode. That means treats are deserved, and calorie counting is out the window.
So for dessert, hop on the closest moving walkway to Sweet Republic for handcrafted ice cream at B5, and Tammie Coe Cakes at A25. And if you’re just looking for something sweet to enjoy on the plane, Cactus Candy is just about everywhere.
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