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    Universal Orlando Dining

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Dining at Universal Orlando

Best restaurants at Universal Orlando

Before we get started with the overview, lets go over some of the best restaurants at Universal Orlando:

  • Three Broomsticks - Islands of Adventure - Delicious, high quality food. Must experience for Harry Potter fans.
  • Fast Food Boulevard - Universal Studios Florida - Home of multiple Simpsons themed quick service restaurants. We love the chicken & waffle sandwich from Cletus' Chicken Shack, and the gloriously gloriously messy Clogger Burger from Krusty Burger.
  • Mythos Restaurant - Islands of Adventure - Nice atmosphere. Menu has good variety. Great for diners with dietary restrictions.
  • Leaky Cauldron - Universal Studios Florida - Another must see Harry Potter restaurant. We love the bangers. Has a lot of great entrees.
  • VIVO Italian Kitchen - CityWalk - Italian favorites like chicken picatta, veal parmigiano, linguine, clams, and much more.
  • The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar - CityWalk - A burger AND sushi bar. It sounds crazy but it's one of our staff's favorite restaurants. Try the blackened tuna nachos.

Universal Orlando Dining Overview

Quick service (or “counter service,” as it is called at Disney) offerings are largely comparable to Disney, both in quality and cost, with the newest additions – Harry Potter's Leaky Cauldron and Three Broomsticks, and The Simpsons' Fast Food Boulevard – raising the bar for all of Universal's quick offerings. Universal Studios Florida's two full-service restaurants are Finnegan's Bar and Grill, in New York, and Lombard's Seafood Grille, in San Francisco. .

Islands of Adventure has two sit-down restaurants: Confisco Grille in the Port of Entry and Mythos Restaurant in The Lost Continent. Confisco is fine for pizza and drinks. Despite its Hellenic-sounding name, Mythos isn’t a Greek restaurant; rather it serves something-for-everyone fusion fare, including Italian risotto, Asian noodles, and Mexican fish tacos, plus steaks and burgers. Diners with dietary restrictions will be happy to see that Mythos has more options for vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diners than almost any other in-park Universal restaurant.

For even better eating options, exit the parks into CityWalk, Universal’s dining, shopping, and entertainment district (think a more compact counterpart to Disney Springs). CityWalk saw some welcome upgrades to its restaurant line-up in recent years with the additions of the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, VIVO Italian Kitchen, and Antojitos Authentic Mexican, along with The Cowfish's much-better-than-it-sounds burger/sushi bar. We also like the Bob Marley and Pat O'Brien's restaurants for drinks and music.

Many of the older CityWalk restaurants’ menus are similar to Applebee’s or Chili’s. Given the average entree from the Hard Rock Cafe Orlando or Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville it would be difficult for a blindfolded diner to be certain from which restaurant it came. That blindfolded diner would probably guess that any plate with shrimp on it had a decent chance of coming from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, but there's little else of note on its menu.

Some of Universal's best sit-down restaurants are found at the resort hotels. The Palm Restaurant, an upscale steak house in the Hard Rock Hotel, serves Grade A meat at prices to match. If you’re in the mood for Italian, try Bice Ristorante (expensive) or Mama Della’s Ristorante (moderate), both at the Portofino. Probably because they handle a lot of convention traffic, menu prices at Universal's deluxe resorts tend to be higher than you might expect.

Universal Orlando Dining Reservations

Universal Orlando dining reservations can be made online or by calling Universal at (407) 224-3663. Universal uses a third party to manage their online reservations, so the easiest way to get to them is by visiting Universal's dining page. Unlike at Disney, no deposit is necessary to book a Universal restaurant reservation, so there's no penalty when your dinner plans inevitably change. The in-park restaurants only take reservations 30 days in advance, but most of the CityWalk and hotel restaurants accept bookings 90 day out. If you are visiting at a peak time of the year (like Thanksgiving or Christmas) or during a major convention, we suggest making table service reservations a couple weeks to a month in advance.

One of the biggest differences between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando is the ease with which you can secure dining reservations at the latter resort. If you're used to frantically booking your Disney ADRs 180 days before your vacation, you can relax. During much of the year, you can walk up and get a table at most Universal Orlando eateries with only a modest wait; guests staying at an on-site deluxe hotel can flash their key card to get seated even sooner.

Dress

Dress is informal at all theme park restaurants and in CityWalk's restaurants. At upscale resort restaurants such as Hard Rock's Palm Restaurant, men are not permitted to wear sleeveless shirts, and “resort casual” wear is appropriate (but not required) for dinner: khakis, dress slacks, jeans or dress shorts with a collared shirt for men and capris, skirts, dresses, jeans and dress shorts for women.

Food Allergies and Special Requests

For sit-down meals, if you have food allergies or observe some kind of specific diet like eating kosher or gluten-free, make your needs known when you make your dining reservation and again when your waiter introduces himself at your table. The waitstaff or chef will be able to tell you the kinds of accommodations the kitchen is prepared to make for your meal.

Accommodating dietary needs is more difficult at fast food places, since the staff may not be as familiar with the menu’s ingredients or preparation. Ask to see the allergen information book, which should be kept behind the counter at every quick service location; it lists the menu items that can made or modified for various diets. When our vegetarians and vegans have doubts about menu descriptions, their strategy is usually to default to the simplest, most-likely-to-be-acceptable item.

See our Universal Orlando Special Needs page for more dietary details.

Character Meals

Universal offers one year-round in-park character breakfast, held from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays at Cafe La Bamba in Universal Studios. During the Superstar Character Breakfast, guests dine with characters from Spongebob SquarePants, Hop, and Dora the Explorer. Cost is $25.99 for adults and $12.99 for kids; park admission is required and not included. A plated meal with your choice of breakfast favorites (scrambled eggs, pancakes, fruit and yogurt) is served, and attendees also get reserved viewing for that afternoon's character parade. Days and times are subject to change; call 407-224-7554 for reservations, or book at this website.

The Despicable Me character breakfast is held on Saturday's at the Tahitian room at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Times are 8:00am, 9:30am, and 11:00am and the cost is $34.99 for adults and $20.99 for ages 3-9, tax not included. Reservations can be made on the Loews hotels website.

During the Christmas season, Universal offers a holiday breakfast in Islands of Adventure's Seuss Landing with the Grinch, played by an extremely interactive actor in film-quality prosthetic makeup. This meal is only held on select mornings in December, and pricing and reservations info is the same for the Superstar breakfast.

Quick Service Recommendations at Universal Studios Florida

Much of the quick service at Universal Studios Florida is utterly unremarkable: burgers, pizza, pasta, chicken fingers, sandwiches, and salads. The mediocre food is matched by the predictable theming in the park's original fast-food joints: American diner? Check. New York Italian? Got it. We’re a little surprised that there’s not a Chinese-takeout place next to a laundry in the San Francisco section.

The expansion in 2013 of the Springfield U.S.A. themed area revitalized USF's quick service scene by bringing a number of wacky Simpsons-inspired eateries to life along Fast Food Boulevard, including Krusty Burger, The Frying Dutchman for seafood, Cletus' Chicken Shack, Luigi's Pizza, Lard Lad Donuts, Lisa's Teahouse of Horror, Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck, Duff Brewery, and Moe's Tavern. Serving sizes are large, and the food quality is an improvement over your run-of-the-mill theme park fare.

The best food in USF can currently be found at the Leaky Cauldron. Diagon Alley's flagship restaurant, the Leaky Cauldron serves authentically hearty British pub fare like bangers and mash, cottage pie, toad in the hole, Guinness stew, and a ploughman’s platter for two of scotch eggs and imported cheeses. When you're done, head over to Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour for some delicious Butterbeer ice cream.

Quick Service Recommendations at Islands of Adventure

Of Islands of Adventure's quick service offerings, we like The Three Broomsticks, a counter-service restaurant in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade, serves Boston Market-style rotisserie chicken, plus fish & chips, shepherd's pie, and barbecued ribs. The Hog's Head Pub, attached to Broomsticks, serves beer, wine, mixed drinks, and the obligatory Butterbeer (see below).

We also like the gyros at Fire-Eater's Grill, the kebabs at Oasis Coolers, and especially the ribs and roasted corn at Thunder Falls Terrace. Almost all of the other IOA counter-service places serve some variation of burgers, chicken, pizza or pasta, and while your superhero-loving kids are going to be drawn towards Marvel Island’s Café 4, and Captain America Diner as if the Pied Piper himself was leading them to it, avoid both as there are much better places to eat.

Last updated by Brian McNichols on July 11, 2018

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