Delayed: Chicago O’Hare International Airport

Airports may not be your idea of a place you'd prefer to spend time, but delays and cancellations can cause extended wait. Fortunately, if you're stuck at Chicago's O'Hare International airport, the country's second busiest, you can at least take advantage of restaurants, exhibits, and other features where you can while away time.

A passenger checks in at an American Airlines Inc. self-service kiosk at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A passenger checks in at an American Airlines Inc. self-service kiosk at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.

Besides the Chicago Department of Aviation’s website listing of food and beverage outlets in each terminal, also consider downloading one of the many great mobile apps available that provide detailed airport information. My favorite is GateGuru as it provides not only lists of food, shopping and services found in each terminal with customer reviews, but also provides security wait time information, updated throughout the day.

Terminals 1, 2 and 3 are interconnected, so if you’ve passed through security and have a lot of time to kill, you can easily get from one end of the airport to the other. Terminal 5, the international terminal, can be accessed by using the Airport Transit System (ATS), a free, 24-hour rail system linking all three domestic terminals with the international terminal, and continuing to long-term parking and the Metra & PACE stations.

Here are some of the top locations based on user reviews in each terminal.

Terminal 1:

Garrett’s Popcorn near gate B8 — A Chicago favorite with just about everyone recommending the Chicago Mix (cheese and caramel).

Eli’s Cheesecake near gate B10.

Vienna Beef near gates C8, C17 and C22 — Enjoy a Chicago-style hot dog.

Terminal 2:

Kids On The Fly – A 2,000 square- foot children’s play area, featuring a play helicopter, airplane and check-in counter along with an assortment of giant Legos for making towers.

La Tapenade Mediterranean near gate F12.

Wicker Park Seafood near the main lobby.

Terminal 3:

Argo Tea near gate H1 — Serves healthy all natural teas and blended drinks.

Cibo Express near gate H1 — Gourmet, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free selections.

Macaroni Grill near gate H3 — The only one of the chain found at O’Hare.

Terminal 5: (Note: There are extremely limited options beyond security)

Gold Coast Dogs upper level, pre-security.

Haagen-Dazs upper level, pre-security.

Windy City Yogurt arrivals level, pre-security

If you want to stay put at your departure gate, consider downloading the “B4 You Board” app and have food delivered to you right at your gate. Currently, only Chili’s and Stefani’s Tuscany Café offer the service in Terminal 1. Stanley’s Kitchen & Top in Terminal 2, and Chili’s and Wolfgang Puck in Terminal 3, Delivery is free.

Finally, consider purchasing a day pass to one of the many airline lounges in each terminal. Visit your airline’s website for current pricing, or simply enter the lounge to inquire about rates. All lounges at O’Hare include free Wi-Fi, unlike the main terminal, and offer an oasis away from crowded gates with free snacks, comfortable seating and complimentary bar drinks. Also, should you require re-booking assistance, the lines inside the lounge for customer service are far shorter than those found on the concourses — often making the price of admission pay for itself.