Universal Orlando Resort Tips & Tricks - Part Two: Dining

Last week’s post was getting a bit too long so I decided to break out the dining recommendations into a separate post. To my hordes of followers, you’re welcome (haha).

Universal does not have quite the cult following for its food offerings that Disney does and, generally speaking, the House of Mouse outperforms its smaller neighbor when it comes to culinary offerings within its parks. Most of Universal’s theme park food is a bit repetitive and what you would typically expect to find in an amusement park (lots of burgers, chicken sandwiches and pizzas). Still, there are some noteworthy exceptions at two locations in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

At the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley (Universal Studios side), you will find a good selection of British pub fare for lunch and dinner including beef, lamb and Guinness stew, fish & chips, bangers & mash, and toad in the hole. You can also sample a number of Wizarding World favorites such as pumpkin juice and butterbeer. Over at the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure side) you will find some British pub standards along with American favorites like rotisserie chicken, ribs and salads. Both restaurants also have an excellent and high-quality selection of both British and American fare for breakfast.

Now who wouldn’t want to eat in the grotto of the gods?

Now who wouldn’t want to eat in the grotto of the gods?

Another restaurant within the parks that has long been a favorite of mine is Mythos in Islands of Adventure. The themeing is excellent both inside and out and the food is pretty good, too. I do wish they’d shift toward having a mostly Mediterranean menu (the Pad Thai seems a bit out of place) and that they’d incorporate a bit of live entertainment as the restaurant is just screaming for that extra touch. Still, it’s an interesting spot in which to cool off and have a meal.

For a lot of the truly good food at the Universal Orlando Resort, you need to look outside the parks. CityWalk has long contained some great restaurants and I’m pleased to report that the quality has continued with their newer offerings. Some of my particular favorites are:

1.     Vivo Italian Kitchen– Fresh Italian fare in a modern, open-kitchen concept restaurant. It’s a bustling place and can get loud but the food and service are great.

2.     Voodoo Donut– These have started popping up in various cities but the donuts are delicious and the menu is fun and slightly ridiculous. You just have to experience it.

3.     Toothsome’s Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen- You just have to go and have an over-the-top “artisanal” milkshake and/or cocktail at this place. The non-dessert food is okay (not mind-blowing but decent) but, let’s face it, you’re really going for the desserts and the atmosphere. This unique steampunk castle is definitely worth a visit. I advise going on the off-hours so you don’t end up waiting forever for a table.

Dad really enjoyed his Chicken Parmigiana and the fresh bread at Vivo Kitchen

Dad really enjoyed his Chicken Parmigiana and the fresh bread at Vivo Kitchen

4.     Margaritaville– It’s just a fun place to drink island-inspired cocktails, sing along to Jimmy Buffet music, and watch the margarita volcano erupt every hour. And eat nachos. For some reason, I get nachos every time I go to this place and it makes me happy.

5.     Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.– Yes, it’s another chain and they seem to be popping up all over the country but the food is good. The Shrimper’s Net Catch peel-and-eat appetizer is a favorite in my house.

Personally, I haven’t experienced the restaurants in the resort hotels as I tend to be out and about during my visits (though I did visit The Thirsty Fish bar on a number nights at Loews Portofino Bay). I have heard good things about Bice and Mamma Della’s at Loews Portofino Bay and The Kitchen and the Hard Rock Hotel. The Sunday Acoustic Brunch at The Kitchen is supposed to be great, just be prepared for the live music to potentially be a bit louder than you may wish.

For all my followers, where is your favorite place to eat when you visit Universal Orlando? I’d love to read your opinions in the comments.

Universal Orlando Resort - Tips & Tricks: Part 1

Universal Orlando Resort - Tips & Tricks: Part 1

As destinations like this grow, it can be really hard to keep up with everything there is to see, do, and eat during your stay. To help with your planning, here are some of my top tips for visiting the Universal Studios Orlando theme parks and resorts: