You know when people say “think about your happy place” when you are super stressed or you simply want to procrastinate? For the longest time, my “happy place” was the default: on a beach with a mango smoothie in my hand.
But three years ago, my eyes opened to my true happy place — Universal Studios in Orlando. Sure, everyone who goes to Florida either goes to Miami or Disney World. And thanks to the new addition of Diagon Alley (please go on the Gringotts Ride, it is phenomenal) Universal Orlando is getting more and more attention.
Why is this place so fantastic? In addition to the many roller coasters, water rides, and 3D rides, their food is wonderful. So I have composed a concise food guide for whenever you go to Universal Orlando — and I highly expect you will.
Simpson’s Fast Food Boulevard
Springfield is real. And so is their food. Make your way to Moe’s Tavern to quench your thirst with a specialty drink like a Duff Beer. Or perhaps a Flaming Moe, which is an orange-flavored soda with dry ice packed underneath a grate to produce those epic rolls of fog. Want some mean tacos? Stop by Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck for some delicious chicken, fish, or beef soft-shell tacos. And last, but definitely not least, craving those Krusty Burgers? Head to the Fast Food Boulevard for their assortment of burgers and sandwiches. #SpoonTip: Try the Ribwich: ribs + coleslaw + bun.
Finnegan’s Bar and Grill
Feeling a bit lucky? Step inside to this Irish-American pub and grab yourself a specialty drink, along with some Irish soda bread and an authentic meal such as Shepard’s Pie and Bangers and Mash. You should also check out their classic dish, Guinness beef stew – beef simmering in a Guinness-infused gravy surrounded with carrots, pearl onions, and a whole lot of mashed potatoes.
Lombard’s Seafood Grille
With the sun shining and bright blue skies above your head, all you need is some delicious seafood to make the moment perfect…and you can get that at Lombard’s. With a beautiful waterfront view, select from wide range of specialties, such as their New England clam chowder or Alaskan cod fish tacos that are topped with jasmine rice, fresh cabbage, and drizzled with Dragon Sauce.
Mythos was recently ranked “World’s #1 Theme Park Restaurant” and continues to exceed its expectations every year. Dine on a variety of cuisine, such as pad Thai and vegan risotto, as you gaze upon one of the most wonderful views of the park. You should most definitely try their signature hamburgers, which is made from ground lamb, beef and falafel with fresh tomatoes, lettuce, grilled onions, and finished with their house made feta-olive aioli.
Seuss Landing Dining
You can finally have those green eggs and ham you wanted ever since you were 3 – I am not joking. People may judge you for eating a green egg sandwich, but the freshness of the egg along with the smokey ham makes you forget that you got transported to the Seuss world.
Seuss Landing has many cafes inspired by the Seuss books, including Green Eggs and Ham Cafe and Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous. This place will bring back those lovely childhood memories. Also, one of the Seuss rides goes through the McGurkus Cafe. How cool is that?
Right at the entrance of the park is Confisco Grille. If you are aiming for something better than fast food but not as expensive as a Fogo de Chao, check out this place. They serve a whole variety of foods including Mexican, Asian, and Greek American. Their Tex-Mex wraps feature fried Tabasco onions, chipotle sour cream, and are even wrapped in a chipotle tortilla – talk about exploding flavors.
“The Leaky Cauldron, that’s in London!” – Stan Shunpike
Yeah, Stan knows what’s up. But don’t worry – you don’t have to go through customs to get to London. Head to Universal Studios Park and enter Diagon Alley (it’s all good, Hagrid already moved the bricks for ya). On the left-hand side is the Leaky Cauldron. Get your cottage pie, fish and chips and the ultimate Scotch eggs: hard-boiled eggs encased in sausage and wrapped in a crispy breadcrumb crust. Pair your authentic British meals with a frothy mug of butterbeer here.
If you are already at Islands of Adventure and you don’t have time to take the Hogwarts Express to eat at the Leaky Cauldron, no worries. Three Broomsticks is located in Hogsmeade, right before the gorgeous Hogwarts castle. Try a Cornish pasty, turkey leg, or the perfectly sized chocolate trifle – layers of moist chocolate cake, fluffy chocolate mousse, and fresh strawberries (AKA nothing like Rachel’s ill-conceived version). Located in the back is Hog’s Head pub. You can get your pumpkin juice, butterbeer, and imported beers here.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
Harry was addicted to this ice cream parlor, and you will be too. Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour offers you plenty of choices – you get to pick either soft serve or hard packed ice cream. If you pick soft serve, I suggest trying the smooth, butterscotch-like flavor butterbeer, toffee apple, or strawberries and cream flavor. If you pick hard packed, try Earl Grey and Lavender, chocolate and chili, or strawberry and peanut butter. Whether it is in a cup or cone, you will be standing back in line for 30 minutes for more.
The name says it all. Cowfish serves a great fusion of delicious burgers, sushi, and the ultimate “burgushi.” If you are feeling a bit daring, try their magnificent “The Cowfish Has Officially Left the Building” burger, which is an entire pound of beef topped with fried bananas, bacon and creamy peanut butter.
Vivo Italian Kitchen
Who wants some freshly baked bread, homemade mozzarella, cured meats, and a unique selection of wine and Italian-inspired cocktails? Um, definitely me. You also have a wide variety of pastas to pick from. Their beef medallion dish is very fresh, as it is paired with potatoes, rapini (a green, leafy vegetable) and a red mustard glaze. Vivo’s can transport you to Italy in a matter of one meal.
NBC Sports Grill and Brew
With more than 100 HD TVs around the place, no one has to miss out on the latest sports games on vacation. NBC Sports Grill and Brew is the latest addition to City Walk. Try their hand-pulled pork topped with their signature barbecue sauce, coleslaw, and corn bread. And don’t forget their extensive list of drinks, including house-designed IPA.