RDU Has 13 New Eateries — Here’s What to Know

Could the airport be the hot foodie neighborhood?
By Rachel Simon | images courtesy brands

It may be the season for relaxing weekend getaways and sunshine-filled vacations, but you don’t have to wait until you get off the plane for the fun to start. At Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), you can now kill the time before your flight enjoying delicious food and beverages at one of the 13 new restaurants and bars that have opened (or are set to open shortly) in the airport–including options from popular local chefs like Scott Crawford and Oscar Diaz.

The push for new eateries is a direct result of the boom in visitors that RDU has experienced over the last few years; in 2023, a record 14.5 million travelers used the airport, with RDU adding or expanding routes to nearly 75 destinations to accommodate the increase. But until recently, the food and drink options at the airport were notably limited.

“Like many other businesses, many of RDU’s restaurants closed during the pandemic when travel was at its lowest point and did not reopen,” Stephanie Hawco, Media Relations Director for the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, explains to WALTER. 

Throughout 2024 and 2025, though, 13 new dining concepts are making their way to RDU, with the majority having local origins. The goal, says Hawco, is to show off the Triangle’s culinary offerings and turn the airport “into a true dining destination,” says Hawco. Dates for many of these openings are still up in the air, but you can read on for a rundown of what to expect.

ALREADY OPEN

Lonerider Brewery Co.

14 years after opening its first Raleigh location, the award-winning brewery Lonerider established an outpost at RDU’s Terminal 2. Like the original Gulf Court spot, the new brewery offers a vast selection of beer, hard seltzers, cocktails and more, but only at the airport can you also enjoy a few RDU-specific brews (like Boots Up Ale) and a sizable food menu. “We are very privileged to be a part of showing the world how cool North Carolina is,” says Sumit Vohra, Chief Drinking Officer at Lonerider. “We look forward to travelers from the Triangle, and around the world, experiencing what Lonerider has to offer.”

Beyu Caffe

Durham favorite Beyu Caffé is now open before security in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and offers smoothies and sandwiches in addition to a substantial coffee menu.

COMING SOON

There are many more new establishments coming later this year and in 2025!

Black & White Coffee Roasters

Established in 2017, locally-made coffee chain Black & White Coffee Roasters has become a staple in the Triangle with three locations in Raleigh, Wake Forest, and Rolesville, North Carolina. This year, it’ll launch a new spot in RDU’s Terminal 2, which will allow the brand to “showcase what The Triangle has to offer to those passing through,” says co-founder Lem Butler. “We believe that our well-crafted coffee experience will pique the curiosity of out-of-state travelers, providing them with a taste of the Triangle and, with a bit of extra time on their itineraries, an opportunity to explore the vibrant local scene,” he adds.

Adios!

James Beard award-finalist chef Oscar Diaz is loved by Triangle residents for his work at restaurants like Cortez and Little Bull, and by the end of the summer, he’ll be opening Adios!, a Mexican eatery, in Terminal 2. The menu will be full of “fun, approachable food” made from local ingredients, Diaz says, delivered in quirky, airport-friendly to-go containers (think: chilaquiles in a Chinese takeout box) that will echo the restaurant’s funky vibe. “I want it to feel bright and happy in there,” the chef says.

Guy’s Pizza Parlor by Guy Fieri

Famed chef/personality Guy Fieri has launched everything from burger bars to steakhouses, and now he’s bringing a pizza joint to RDU’s Terminal 2. It’ll serve pizzas, sandwiches and pastries (provided by Raleigh’s own Blue Ox Bakery), and you can bet it’ll be as colorful and funky as Fieri’s many other eateries.

Bongiorno & Son

The Italian delicatessen has only been open in the North Hills neighborhood for a few years, but it’s grown popular enough to warrant a second location at RDU. In Terminal 2, diners will be able to enjoy eggplant parm sandwiches, freshly made provolone, creamy cannolis and more.

Conniption Cocktail Bar

Developed in partnership with Durham Distillery, Conniption Cocktail Bar (led by Melissa Katrincic) will deliver gin-based drinks influenced by the distillery’s Corpse Reviver Cocktail Bar in Durham to travelers in Terminal 2 looking for a buzz before or after their flights, along with a small food menu.

Crawford’s Genuine

Taking the space previously held by Terminal 2’s 42nd St. Oyster Bar (which closed in March 2023), James Beard award-nominated local chef Scott Crawford’s new bar and grill will have a casual, all-day food menu–including many grab-and-go options–and a large assortment of cocktails and beers.

Butcher’s Burger & Bar

Crawford will also launch a restaurant called Butcher’s Burger & Bar in Terminal 2, details of which are not yet known. But the name certainly whets our appetites!

Half Moon Empanadas

Offering a delicious mix of savory and sweet empanadas (including three-cheese, spicy chicken, and even banana split), the popular, female-owned chain has brought its artisanal Latin American offerings to cities all over the country–soon to include Raleigh.

Raleigh Beer Garden

Raleigh Beer Garden, which was the world’s largest draft selection, is expanding to RDU’s Terminal 1, giving travelers using airlines like Southwest or Avelo access to 48 brew on tap as well as a variety of food options.

Bond Brothers Taproom & Kitchen

The Cary-based establishment Bond Brothers (which was named Best New Brewery by USA Today in 2017) is no stranger to RDU; it was originally open in Terminal 2 back in 2020, but closed when the pandemic took hold. Soon, it’ll make a grand return with a menu full of brews, cocktails, and casual eats.

Dunkin’

Yes, RDU is finally getting its very own Dunkin’ Donuts! It’ll be in Terminal 2, adding to the airport’s coffee and pastry options for travelers.

This article was originally published on waltermagazine.com on May 16, 2024.