TouringPlans is pleased to welcome back guest author Jon Self.
As I was reminded a few weeks ago, many people visiting theme parks do not desire to think about healthy dining. If they want to eat fried butter wrapped in bacon on vacation, then do not bother them!
All poor attempts at jokes aside, it can be challenging to maintain dietary requirements while at a theme park. Over the years, Universal Orlando has made developments in terms of being accommodating to many dietary restrictions. You can always request to speak to a chef at the table service restaurants, especially in CityWalk. If you can avoid mobile ordering, you can ask specific questions about items at quick service locations.
Many people who follow the popular keto diet are able to find accommodations at Universal Orlando, but it is not always easy. The standard ketogenic diet and “dirty” ketogenic diet both have the same goal, to keep carbohydrates to a minimum so that your body starts burning ketones (fats) for energy instead of glucose from carbs. If you are unfamiliar, “dirty” keto is more tolerant of some types of carbs simply because many people cannot maintain the strict limits of the standard keto diet.
There are some basic tips for following a keto diet while at Universal. First, you can always order a burger without the bun and substitute a side if needed. I did this at Margaritaville recently. Starbucks is also accommodating for keto with beverages and even some foods, so do not be afraid to ask them about options. Another tip is to get a turkey leg, which can be found in many locations. (They even sell turkey legs at the “Last Chance Fruit Stand” in Port of Entry.) Do be aware that all that protein will be covered in some less-than-keto-friendly sauces, however. The final basic tip is to remind you that you can bring in your own food within reason. The food/drink limits to be brought into the parks can be found on Universal’s website.
If you want to eat keto while at Universal, then I would recommend these specific options (with special thanks to the IComeHereForTheFood YouTube channel).
Universal Studios Florida
Both table service restaurants here have tremendous keto options. Lombard’s Seafood Grille, as the name states, specializes in seafood. The best keto play is the tuna poke appetizer (minus the crispy wontons). There is a San Francisco Cobb Salad to which you can add a protein. There are also several beef and seafood entrees that would be very keto friendly if you avoid the carb-based sides.
Finnegan’s Bar & Grill is another good keto choice if you can resist the starch-filled appetizers, soda bread, and beer. Probably the best suggestion is the Pistachio Crusted Salmon Salad. This is a fillet of salmon served on baby greens, with roasted root vegetables, tomatoes, onions, and Havarti dill cheese with homemade mustard ale vinaigrette. You could choose the Irish Cobb salad if Scotch eggs fit into your keto diet. Like Lombard’s, this place has many protein-based entrees, but substitute broccoli for potatoes.
Quick service will be tougher. The Leaky Cauldron has roasted chicken with steamed vegetables if you are craving Wizarding World theming. Some guests report being able to get a salad and add a protein to it. Another quality option is TODAY Café. Keto dieters suggest the Soho salad, which is roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, arugula, farro, avocado, prosciutto, and lemon vinaigrette.
If you find yourself caught in Springfield USA area while hungry, your choices are limited. You could get tacos from Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck if your diet will allow the smaller amount of carbs for that tortilla. If not, then Lisa’s TeaHouse of Horror has several keto-friendly menu items, although taste-wise this isn’t a great option. (It has a cringe-worthy 78% thumbs up from our readers.)
Islands of Adventure
Like Universal Studios Florida, both table service places in Islands of Adventure, Confisco Grille and Mythos, offer several pleasant options. Confisco has excellent salad options and catch of day options also. Mythos also has salad options, chicken, salmon, lamb chops, and beef medallions which may work for you.
In terms of quick service here, the Wizarding World options at Three Broomsticks are the same as Leaky Cauldron. Thunder Falls Terrace offers salads, chicken, and ribs, though you might want to watch out for sugar content of BBQ sauce. Comic Strip Café, an average theme park food court, has salads and the “Dragon Platter”, which is a combination of Asian style chicken and beef that can be modified to limit carb content. Hopefully, the roasted chicken will return to this place also. Lastly, if you can allow a few more carbs, then Doc Sugrue’s Desert Kebab House will help because the kabobs come wrapped in pita bread, but avoid the chips.
CityWalk features many possibilities, and these are just the highlights. There are numerous high-quality salads offered at CityWalk restaurants, even at Red Oven Pizzeria. If you are willing to avoid the bun then places like Margaritaville and Bubba Gump’s have great grilled sandwiches. If a high-protein meal is a priority for your keto diet, then Bubba Gump’s and Bigfire Grill are great options.
Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar may seem like a bad keto option, but the sushi-style appetizers and entrees will more than cover your dietary needs. Speaking of seemingly bad options, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen is not a bad choice for lunch/dinner on a keto diet if you can resist all those sweet treat temptations. There are several appetizer options that may work for keto. In addition, there is even a “super foods” salad. Since Toothsome has a Cheesecake Factory-like menu, you can find something to eat especially since the chefs are so supportive with special diets.
Do not let the fun of Universal Orlando seem unattainable due to keto. The fun is still there even if you cannot enjoy 5 Butterbeers in one day.
Do you have a favorite option for keto dining at Universal Orlando? Let us know in the comments.
Jon Self is an avid theme park fan who has the high privilege to serve as a pastor at an American Baptist Church (fbcmacomb.com) while also trying to find the proper life path with his loving spouse, a bigger theme park fan than Jon. You can follow him at @pastorjonself on Twitter and read more of his writings at faithelement.net.