Most people don’t think of theme parks as a place to get a great meal, but Universal Orlando Resort is not your average theme park. Spread across three parks, dozens of hotels, and CityWalk, there’s no shortage of places to dine, spanning all culinary styles. Some are fast and casual, while others offer sit-down dining. While there are many more, we’ve only included restaurants, not small stands selling sodas and snacks. If you’re eager to taste it all, check out Universal’s dining plans. Here are a few of our favorites from our many trips there, which will be updated as we try them all.
Spaghetti and meatballs, Louie’s Italian- New York
Where else but New York can you get authentic Italian fare? Set in a set modeled after the neighborhoods of The Godfather at Universal Studios, Louie’s Italian is set up cafeteria style but has a menu of dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, our favorite, along with subs, salads, and pizza. Finish off your meal with gelato or Italian ice. They also have beer and wine. Families can split an entire pizza to fuel up on the cheap.
Korean beef tacos, Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck- Springfield
The Simpsons-themed area in the park is one of the best for food, popular for the Lard Lad’s donuts and Krusty Burger. But Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is more than just a photo op. The two tacos are great, especially the sweet and spicy Korean beef tacos, which come with tortilla chips. You can add on sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. It’s one of the best bargains within the parks and can be paired with a Duff beer.
Chicken and waffle sandwich, Cletus’ Chicken Shack- Springfield
Another staple of Fast Food Boulevard, the chicken and waffle sandwich at Cletus’ is a must-try, a piece of breaded chicken with lettuce, tomato, and a maple mayo tucked between two toasted waffles. The sauce is weirdly delicious. Pair with a side of tots. If you want one of those famous Lard Lad’s doughnuts, you can also buy them inside instead of waiting in line. This is also where you can get a Flaming Moe’s.
Mushroom, leek, and egg pasty- Leaky Cauldron
The restaurants in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are among the only ones in the parks to offer breakfast and are busy in the mornings for this reason. The traditional breakfast is the restaurants take on the “Full English,” complete with baked beans and black pudding, but isn’t for everyone. Pancakes and oatmeal are alternatives, but the mushroom, leak, and egg Cornish pasty was my favorite, a flaky pie that resembles a quiche. It came with a large serving of fruit and a side of potatoes. The dishes are pricey at $17, especially for an entire family, but are filling and come with a drink.
Islands of Adventure
Butterbeer and pumpkin juice, Various locations- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Located in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, butterbeer is likely the most popular beverage for fans. The sweet treat can be purchased at the sit-down dining outlets like The Leaky Cauldron, Hog’s Head, and Three Broomsticks as well as the smaller kiosks like the Fountain of Fair Fortune. However, there’s more than one way to enjoy it. There’s cold butterbeer, hot butterbeer, frozen butterbeer, butterbeer fudge, butterbeer ice cream, and butterbeer potted creme. But don’t forget about pumpkin juice, which tastes of cinnamon, apple, and pumpkin, and the pumpkin fizz.
Lamb meatballs with falafel waffle, Mythos- The Lost Continent
Named the best theme park restaurant in the world, this Islands of Adventure eatery resembles a whimsical grotto set in rock formations. The menu takes influences from Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Americas. I tried the vegetable risotto and mezze platter, but my favorite was the lamb meatball appetizer. Reservations are accepted here because of its popularity.
Beef kebab, Doc Sugrue’s Desert Kebab House- The Lost Continent
There aren’t many other options in the parks that you can grab and eat as you walk, but this kebab stand is the exception. Beef and chicken skewers come with vegetables, but there is also a vegetarian option, all paired with pita bread and tzatziki sauce. This stand also sells Greek salads and hummus if you want something a bit lighter.
Poke poke bowl, The Feasting Frog
All of the food at Volcano Bay is inspired by the tropics and the menu at the fast option The Feasting Frog is no exception. In addition to tacos and nachos, the poke bowl comes with fresh tuna and mango salsa, paired with plantain chips, for $12.99. This was plenty of food for me and was light enough for a day at the water park.
Cowfish is known for their burgers, sushi, and “burgushi,” a roll that resembles a burger, fully cooked, and topped in their specialty sauce. But in addition to the fresh salads and edamame, Cowfish has fantastic sashimi and nigiri of yellowfin, tuna, and salmon, served cold. They also make specialty rolls like the firecracker roll and Makimono. Save room for one of their quirky hand-spun milkshakes.
Milkshake, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
CityWalk’s most popular restaurant has serious steampunk vibes and a menu of delicious and photogenic treats. Most people come for the outlandish milkshakes, with heaping toppings like slices of birthday cake and a Rice Krispie treat. They can be purchased from the dessert counter and enjoyed as you walk around or through table service. But if you want to eat dinner here, definitely make reservations. Sample the chocolate bread, which is better than it sounds, flatbreads, and the signature dish, Filet Mignon Oscar. They’re also open for brunch and lunch.
Voodoo Doll, Voodoo Doughnut
The Portland, Oregon bakery has a cult-like following and additional locations in Eugene, Denver, Austin, and Hollywood as well as their newest location in Orlando. The company brings their unique style with bright colors and offbeat decor. Their large menu features both vegan and standard options, including their iconic Voodoo Doll, another topped with Captain Crunch, and the Universal Orangecicle, which can only be found there.
Sausage Ragu, Vivo Italian Kitchen
There are a number of Italian restaurants within Universal Orlando, including the resorts and inside the parks, but my favorite is Vivo at CityWalk. The stylishly decorated restaurant is one of the most popular, offering wood-fired pizza and homemade pasta. This pasta dish was made with al dente penne, a meaty ragu sauce, and spicy Italian sausage, topped with fresh Parmesan cheese. The portions are hearty so you get a lot of bang for your buck.
Island Fish Sandwich, Amistata Cookhouse- Loews Sapphire Falls
Immediately upon arriving on my last trip, I sat down for dinner at this hotel restaurant with island flavors. I knew I’d want something light, so I ended up with this sandwich, made of the daily catch, with lettuce, tomato, and mango-papaya salsa on coconut-pineapple bread. It was tasty and refreshing, along with everything else on Amistata’s menu. Next time I’d try the sancocho and empanadas.
Chicken and pork dumplings, Urban Pantry- Universal’s Aventura Hotel
The brand-new hotel has a food hall of sorts with pizza, burgers, and roasts. But it’s their sushi and noodle bar that stands above the rest, with stir frys and poke bowls. Don’t miss the dumplings appetizer, which comes with a sweet and spicy sauce. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the hotel lobby for a quick bite or full meal.
Tuna Tataki, Orchid Court Lounge and Sushi Bar- Loews Royal Pacific Resort
If you’re in search of good sushi, you’re in luck. This restaurant in the lobby of the Royal Pacific hotel has a strong menu of traditional sushi rolls, sashimi, nigiri, and cooked items like dumplings and spring rolls. The tuna tataki is peppered seared tuna paired with a savory ponzu sauce. The kamikaze roll is another highlight. If you’re feeling especially hungry, the Tahitian Long Boat features over 20 pieces of sushi with miso soup and salads to feed four.
This post was created through my partnership with Universal Orlando Resort.