HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


4 hours at LAX

We have a 4 hour layover at LAX. Suggestions for a good place to eat?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Are you planning on cabbing it or do you have someone picking you up and taking you back to the airport?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Servorg

      We'll have a car -- Pick up and drop off for dinner around 5 PM

      1. re: nohonell

        I don't think you want to go too far with having to pick up and drop off the car. Close by the best choice is Ayara Thai. Right around the corner from Ayara is Truxton's which is American food in a slightly more upscale venue than a coffee shop but you can come as you are in terms of dress and be fine. There have been quite a few good posts over the years for Shula's Steakhouse - a small chain. It is also very close to the airport.



        1. re: Servorg

          Do a search for LAX in general and you'll find a lot of discussion.

          My pick is to 2nd Ayara.
          Truxton's is an ok choice.
          Don Shula's which I have not been to and is a chain has been chosen in the past.
          Some people would consider the In N Out on Sepulevada to be their top choice.

          1. re: gadflier

            Servorg, I just saw your 2nd post, which I had not read while I was composing my own. So let me just say...Jinx! :)

    2. Thanks for the suggestions. Thai is a fav so'll we'll go for Ayara.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nohonell

        Ayara is especially noted for their noodle dishes, but we have liked pretty much everything we have had there. It's a nice restaurant with friendly and usually efficient service. Easy street parking most everytime we have been there and there is also a large, free lot adjacent just in case the street is full. Hope you will post your results.

      2. Maybe it's too obvious, but I love eating at Encounters when I've got time to kill at LAX. The food is good (standard American fare) but the ambiance is really weird and fun, and you don't have to worry about traffic, just drive or walk over from the gate. Plus it's a great view of all the planes taking off and landing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: reallyneille

          Just so people know, Encounter re-opened after extensive seismic renovation in November. They are open for lunch every day, but extend past four into dinner only Th-Su eves, for the moment. Opinions about the food and service at Encounter fluctuate wildly -- it has gone through a disney-esque incarnation, fine dining, fusion food, a swanky place more for drinks...and on and on. I have not seen nor read any descriptions or reviews of its current status.

        2. Shula's 347 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel. You don't need to rent a car. Hop the Sheraton Gateway shuttle bus for a free ride to and from the hotel. No car rental hassels.
          They open at 5pm. Nice bar in Shula's and hotel lobby and a Starbucks.

          1. If you decide to eat at LAX, your dining options will depend in part on what airline(s) you're coming in/going out on, since most of the restaurants are behind security.

            The exception is the Bradley terminal, which has a Daily Grill with a limited menu, a Mexican place, a Japanese stand that I've never tried, and (of course) a McD's. And as mentioned upthread, there's the Encounter restaurant, which is fun if not exactly haute cuisine. I've always been partial to the El Cholo in Terminal 5 (Delta). In general, the food at LAX has improved considerably since the days when Marriott had a monopoly.

            Of course, you will have more and better options if you leave the terminal ... just be very careful not to get too adventurous, traffic in the area is unpredictable and your four hours could flash by if you're not careful.

            A list of LAX food options:


            1. If you want to eat ethnic or a little more casual, review the options in these recent posts:

              That said, four hours can just 'fly' by. If your incoming flight is late, eating as close as possible to LAX is advised; traffic close by can be insane at that time.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DiveFan

                You don't have to get on the freeway to go to Ayara, which helps,and it really is only a few blocks away (as is Shula's). Ayara will be faster than Shula's, especially since as was mentioned you should be able to park on the street right in front (add ten to fifteen minutes for the valet at the Sheraton at Shula's, which will be more expensive not even counting the valet) However, I would mapquest or google Ayara though, as it was a little difficult to find for me the first time; sort of tucked away...

                that said, I agree that four hours isn't that much time at LAX. Sometimes I get through security in 10 minutes, but it has taken me over an hour on two occasions within the past year or so

                Shula's 347
                6101 W Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045

                Ayara Thai Cuisine
                6245 W 87th St, Los Angeles, CA 90045

              2. At LAX, depending on the day and the alert level, 4 hours is not enuf time for me to leave the airport, eat in a leisurely fashion, and return. The time stress can knot up your innards and defeat the purpose. If you are flying out of the Tom Bradley terminal then the eating options are pretty interesting- not remarkable, but decent food court stuff with an international tone. Even some of the other terminals have some classics like CinnaBun (not don't care for it- but it is on so many people's craving list) etc. OR- pack some snacks- baguette, salumi, cheese, olives, apple, and have yourself a great little picnic in the terminal, then watch a movie on your laptop, and it will be time to board.

                1 Reply
                1. re: torty

                  ayara is about 15 minutes from the airport at the very most. you won't need to get on the freeway at all. even if you leave an hour and a half to check in and go through security, you should have time enough to get to ayara and back.

                  now if your car is a rental, checking out the car and returning the car could be the wild card.

                2. If you don't have a Whole Foods market in your area, you might want to check out the Whole Foods in El Segundo. It's ginormous, they offer prepared foods in the form of full-serve and self-serve counters/tables, and you can easily burn at least a couple hours there if it's your first time. And it is about 5-10 minutes south of LAX off of Sepulveda.

                  Another couple of good places in El Segundo are located in the downtown area. Rinaldi's on Main Street for sandwiches, and the Richmond Grill on Richmond. They have a smallish but great selection of beers as well as some of the best burgers in the South Bay...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: bulavinaka

                    Sitting in traffic going to El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, and Manhattan Beach down Sepulveda would give me indigestion from stress, 4 hours?? You know security is like an hour at LAX, then if you are parking, and the traffic going down Sepulveda is just crazy. You could order ahead at many of these places, drive in, eat and drive back, but for 4 hours I would just stay at LAX, especially if you don't know LA, and the food there is acceptable. It kind of sucks that our airport doesn't have the food selection that Heathrow or Charles De Gaulle have, but that's for another thread.

                    I meant to add also in El Segundo they have Il Fornaio. They are not the best cuisine but interesting Italian food, and they have a topical extra menu also.

                    1. re: apple7blue

                      Downtown El Segundo is a piece of cake from LAX. South on Sepulveda, west on Imperial, south on Main street, and the Mayberryness of this neighborhood will bring peace to your soul... Yes, Sepulveda south or north is a bit of a pain, but the OP will have to deal with this if they are going to cover any reasonable amount of distance. I've done the southbound Sepulveda trek countless times, and as bad as it is, it's 10 minutes tops to Rosecrans as long as there's no major accidents. As far as dealing with security, I've flown twice out of LAX last year and the worst part is actually checking in at the ticket counter, especially if you're flying INTL... Security seemed to go pretty fast as long as you didn't have any issues like large quantities of fluids, metal detector wahwahs, etc.

                      1. re: apple7blue

                        Gotta support BULA above. Four hours is PLENTY of time to stray into the adjacent neighborhoods. However, checking out the rental car, returning the rental car, checking in at the ticket counter, etc., that can take some real time. Be leisurely but don't linger too long at any restaurant and you'll be just fine.

                        To be more productive, can I throw out Pizza Antica for . . . pizza? Just a thought.

                        If apple7blue put the fear of god into you then you can zip over to Woody's Barbeque and pick up some very nice ribs, drive to a nice spot near the airport, and then eat some BBQ while watching the planes take off.

                        Lastly, Coley's if you're feeling like carribean/soul food.

                        1. re: Frommtron

                          I know I can make it, but someone out of town is another story. It might not actually be a lot of actual time to go down Sepulveda, but it feels like a parking lot because all the traffic just waiting at red lights. It's hard to digest food if you are freaking out. People have not even mentioned how long it takes to go from the rental counters to the check in counters or wait for those trams. Even going through the loop is mind-numbingly slow with people who block traffic stupidly . . . I cannot imagine someone out of town that is looking for food recommendations that is probably going to need directions heading to Abbott Kinney and killing time and going to the ocean for a quick walk.

                          Security is easy, but because so many people fly out of LAX and there are so few posts open. I mean if you know what you are doing, take off shoes, no fluids, etc, no problem, and as a layover, I am assuming you have no baggage checking to do. First you get stuck behind some one who's new or being a jerk or whatever that holds up the line, or you are going through when like 6 flights are taking off. I just made it through security once with an hour to take off (1 hour!) for a domestic flight, granted it's not always like that. I am just saying you could probably make it to Pasadena or Orange County and back safely depending on conditions, but someone looking for food recommendations and out of town is not the ideal candidate for dilly dallying or shilly shallying around. I don't want to freak the person out, there is plenty of good food around, but just know your limitations so you can actually enjoy your meal. I think because Encounters is at the airport, and it is a destination place, it's worth checking out. And many of the recommendations mentioned here in nearby neighborhoods are also. I am just saying do not expect the traffic conditions and security checkpoints from other places to be here.

                    2. I used to live in the neighborhood just to the North of LAX called Westchster. There are some really nice spots that are very close by the airport and a good way to kill some time.

                      1st Choice: Sushi @ Kanpai on Lincoln Blvd. Great sake selection and the fist is uber fresh. Also try their tempura scallops and spicy tuna. Ask for the extra salts that come along with the tempura...they really make the flavors pop! The staff is really friendly and if you take an interest in sake it is likely that the owner will offer you different top shelf varieties to try.

                      2nd Choice: Head over to Abbott Kinney Blvd in Venice (approx 15 min drive down Lincoln from LAX) where there are a bunch of great places to choose from. Lily's is a favorite, local French bistro. They have simple, flavorful food and a nice back patio. AXE is also a nice option - very LA interior (sleek, minimal) and the tend to have some nice organic options on the menu. Abbott Kinney is a fun place to just walk around and kill a couple of hours. Most of the shops close early, however some of the newer ones are staying open later. You are also close enough to head over to the ocean for a quick walk after dinner (driving to a parking lot nearby is recommended).

                      Have fun!