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Dining suggestions....

copcarguy

Newcomer
Sep 25, 2020
2
OK...so don't shoot me for the newb first post.

We've been to the house of mouse a bunch of times (12) but this coming December will be our first trip where we will be cheating on uncle Walt and are going to head into Universal. I've managed to get some good info on rides but not too much on dining. With Disney the dining is a huge part of their parks and business model but it doesn't seem to be quite so with universal so I am looking for some suggestions outside of Hard Rock. Feel free to link me to any threads but I couldn't seem to find much...new to the forum here so thanks for any help.
 
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MrBlonde

Member
Aug 7, 2018
556
Hey! Welcome to the forum.

Disney you need to plan meals 6 months in advance, but Universal is normally much easier to eat in, so it's whatever tickles your fancy.

Top places I recommend on UO property are:

1. The Palm-fancy NY style steakhouse at the Hard Rock Hotel. Expensive but quality and not theme parky.
2. Toothsome's-iconic mash of brunch and pub food with everything having a bit of chocolate at Citywalk. Get the chocolate bread and if you're brave, the milkshakes.
3. Leaky Cauldron-awesome Harry Potter theming in Diagon Alley. Also a decent breakfast.
4. Pat O'Briens-New Orleans theme restaurant at Citywalk. Delicious apps and sandwiches and even better drinks. They also have a full service Dueling Piano bar to have fun as musicians play standards and requests
 

Magic Feather

Member
Apr 19, 2019
674
Hey, welcome!
My personal rule when it comes to Universal Orlando Dining is “not in the parks except Potter,” meaning that Universal’s in park food, aside from Potter’s restaurants and a small handful of other spots, is rather standard and lackluster. BUT, the huge consolation prize is CityWalk, which is right outside the entrances to the parks and has amazing food. My personal favorites are Cowfish and Vivo, but Toothsome and NBC are both “experiences.”

The hotels have decent options, but out of the ones currently open, the only place I’d recommend anyone go out of their way for us The Palm at Hard Rock if you wanted a splurge.
 

Bort

Rookie
Sep 7, 2015
110
MrBlonde hit the nail on the head about it being so much easier to eat at Universal than it is at Disney. In most cases you can show up to any of the CityWalk restaurants and get a table with little to no wait. Two factors to keep an eye out for though would be if capacity limits are still in place with covid, and what time the parks close. Since both parks funnel out through CityWalk, that can cause a backup at some of the popular restaurants.

Just to hit a couple different eateries than mentioned above:
NBC Sports Grill & Brew (CW): I consider this to be a hybrid of Buffalo Wild Wings and Cheesecake Factory. Massive menu that everyone can find something to enjoy, and a million TVs playing every game you could want. Has a pretty large beer selection as well.

Antojitos (CW): Fun atmosphere with great mexican cuisine. Hopefully they still have the band that plays periodically throughout the meal. Drinks were pretty strong the last time I went too.

Fast Food Blvd (USF): The food here is nothing special, but it's my favorite in-park place to eat. If anyone in your party enjoys the Simpsons, they'll appreciate the theme/menu/atmosphere. If nothing else, it is worth going inside to see Moe's Tavern. The specialty drinks (Buzz Cola, Flaming Moe, etc.) and Duff Beers can be bought here.

Would also recommend just grabbing a Duff from either Moe's/Duff Gardens and sitting by the lagoon. It's a nice, quiet, way to take a break during the day.
 

vgp

Newcomer
Oct 8, 2020
26
Cowfish at CW for basically a guaranteed good meal, and for a specific item that I find to be shockingly good, the Irish Cobb Salad at Finnegan's.
 

MrRoamer

Premium Member
May 20, 2013
2,164
Local
USF - either Finns (Beet Salad, Scotched Eggs, and Guinness Stew FTW!!!!!) or Potter (also have heard potato truck in London is good but not my thing)
IoA - I personally like Mythos a lot. The restaurant in JP is generally pretty decent. Again Potter is good too
Citywalk - Red Brick and Cowfish are consistently good. Toothsome is generally pretty good too. I feel like most the others are pretty hit and miss with food and service. I've had some awesome meals at NBC and Antojitos, but also some not so great meals. It has been awhile, we used to go to Pat O's often (even had private events there) but felt like the quality went kinda downhill.

RIP Tchoup Chop
 

Captain Tragedy

V.I.P.
Premium Member
Oct 14, 2011
528
New Donk City
I’ll always go to bat for the Classic Monster Cafe at Studios. Love the decor and I’ve never had a bad meal there. At citywalk, definitely toothsome and Cowfish. Hell, Hard Rock Cafe and Margaritaville are guilty pleasures of mine.
 
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copcarguy

Newcomer
Sep 25, 2020
2
I think my first question is what sort of places do you enjoy at Disney?

Outside of a handful of notably bad places, in-park dining at Universal has greatly improved over the past five years and is pushing new boundaries of quality.
So at Disney we our faves are the Crystal Palace breakfast, Flame Tree BBQ, San Angel Inn, Rose and Crown, Mama Melrose, Be Our Guest, California Grille (fancy smancy dining), House of Blues (although a blues bar without beer on tap seemed really weird).

Been to a bunch of the Hard Rocks over the years and kinda found them to be "meh"....basically you go to collect a glass from that location LOL.
 
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Disneyhead

Legendary Member
Jul 24, 2008
11,418
Orlando, FL
So at Disney we our faves are the Crystal Palace breakfast, Flame Tree BBQ, San Angel Inn, Rose and Crown, Mama Melrose, Be Our Guest, California Grille (fancy smancy dining), House of Blues (although a blues bar without beer on tap seemed really weird).

Been to a bunch of the Hard Rocks over the years and kinda found them to be "meh"....basically you go to collect a glass from that location LOL.
Flame Tree BBQ-Thunder Falls Terrace (IOA)
San Angel Inn- Antojito's (CW)
Rose and Crown- Finnagan's and kinda Leaky Cauldron (USF), and kinda 3Broomsticks (IOA)
Mama Melrose- Mama Della's at Portofino Bay Resort (currently shuttered), Vivo's (CW)
Be Our Guest- different but still highly themed dining Leaky Cauldron (USF), 3Broomsticks (IOA), Toothsome's Chocolate Emporium and Savory Kitchen (CW)
California Grille- Palm Steakhouse (Hard Rock Hotel), BiCE (Portofino Bay Resort (currently shutttered))
House of Blues- Pat O'Brian's (CW)

Just to give a short run down. Each park has 2 table service restaurants. Lombard's Landing (seafood) and Finnegan's (NYC style Irish Pub) in USF. And Mytho's and Confisco's in IOA. I consider Mythos and Finnagan's quintessential UOR dining. I almost always stop in at the bar at Finnagan's for a quick snack like a Scotch Egg and a Black and Tan. Confisco's is solid but amazingly forgettable. The best thing there is The Backwater Bar. Which is a tiny full service bar with apps from Confisco's.

There are some solid counter service in both parks. 3Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron have good English/Scottish fare. Thunder Falls Terrace has ribs, rotisserie chicken, and grilled corn. Monster Cafe has Ribs and Brisket. Louis Pizza is theme park pizza similar but slightly better the Rizzo's. Avoid everything in Marvel Superhero Island, Comic Strip Cafe, and Circus McGurkus. The only place I would get a burger in the parks is at KrustyBurger in Springfield.

There is also some great snacks available, the Kabobs and Hummus at the quick service window in the lost continent are great. And as I mentioned before, Finnegan's apps or potato leek soup are great.

CityWalk is really nothing but a mid level dining bonanza. Yeah, just stop into Hard Rock for that drink/glass and keep moving. Toothsome's Chocolate Emporium and Savory Kitchen is hard to describe. Highly themed dining with 2 walk around characters, chocolate in weird things like the bread and my old fashioned. I like the place. Vivo's is Northern Italian where they make their own pasta daily. Antojito's is high end Mexican Street Food. I love the place. 300 tequilas, table side quac service, and did I mention 300 tequilas? Big Fire Grill isn't BBQ. It fire grilled everything but mostly meat. NBC Sports Grill and Brew isn't really a sports bar. More like a Yard House. Lots of beers and some TVs playing only sports on NBC (so mostly taped sports reels). Margaritaville is tropical Hard Rock. Pat O'Brian's blows House of House out of the water in terms of authentically "New Orleans". It is a copy of the original Pat O'Brians in the French Quarter. It's not a blues bar but a dueling piano bar. And no trip to Universal is complete without stopping in at least once for an authentic Hurricane (Pat O' invented them).



There's more, but I have rambled enough. If you have any questions feel free to ask.
 
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Joe

aka TestTrack321
Staff member
Moderator
Feb 15, 2012
14,218
Pittsburgh, PA
So at Disney we our faves are the Crystal Palace breakfast, Flame Tree BBQ, San Angel Inn, Rose and Crown, Mama Melrose, Be Our Guest, California Grille (fancy smancy dining), House of Blues (although a blues bar without beer on tap seemed really weird).

Been to a bunch of the Hard Rocks over the years and kinda found them to be "meh"....basically you go to collect a glass from that location LOL.
In addition to what @Disneyhead said I'd really suggest BigFire since you enjoy California Grille and Flame Tree.
 

SeventyOne

V.I.P.
Jul 1, 2010
3,061
Orlando
While I agree CityWalk the better option, it's hard to argue that dining at Mythos is an experience, especially your first time in there. It's just a gorgeous interior. Food still quite good last time I stopped in. And it's convenient inside the park.

In CItyWalk, hard to top Vivo for food (some of the best Italian in Orlando). but it's not flashy, and if you're from the northeast, it's nothing you can't get back home. For an overall unique experience, I'd say Toothsome.or Antojitos. Both deliver the highly themed fun atmosphere you expect in a park-adjacent restaurant but back it up with really good food. Having just been to NBC again two weeks ago, I'd skip it--a corporate sports bar-themed spot--not an actual sports bar--you can find anywhere, with average food and a slightly larger than normal for theme parks beer selection.
 

MrRoamer

Premium Member
May 20, 2013
2,164
Local
I forgot about Vivo, excellent Italian food there. One other, I actually legit like the Burger King Whopper Bar. Used to be my go to after leaving HHN, if you're looking for something on the cheap side it's decent.

I also have to reply to Disneyhead on this. Louis' pizza smells absolutely amazing. It tastes no where near that smell though. If you are looking for pizza I would definitely go back to Citywalk for Red Oven.

There are some solid counter service in both parks. 3Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron have good English/Scottish fare. Thunder Falls Terrace has ribs, rotisserie chicken, and grilled corn. Monster Cafe has Ribs and Brisket. Louis Pizza is theme park pizza similar but slightly better the Rizzo's. Avoid everything in Marvel Superhero Island, Comic Strip Cafe, and Circus McGurkus. The only place I would get a burger in the parks is at KrustyBurger in Springfield.
 

JoeCamel

Premium Member
May 20, 2015
6,050
Upper Lower
I forgot about Vivo, excellent Italian food there. One other, I actually legit like the Burger King Whopper Bar. Used to be my go to after leaving HHN, if you're looking for something on the cheap side it's decent.

I also have to reply to Disneyhead on this. Louis' pizza smells absolutely amazing. It tastes no where near that smell though. If you are looking for pizza I would definitely go back to Citywalk for Red Oven.
I agree that the pizza is a miss but Red Oven does not have pizza fries!
 
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RevFreako

Premium Member
BANNED
Mar 30, 2015
3,712
USF - either Finns (Beet Salad, Scotched Eggs, and Guinness Stew FTW!!!!!) or Potter (also have heard potato truck in London is good but not my thing)
IoA - I personally like Mythos a lot. The restaurant in JP is generally pretty decent. Again Potter is good too
Citywalk - Red Brick and Cowfish are consistently good. Toothsome is generally pretty good too. I feel like most the others are pretty hit and miss with food and service. I've had some awesome meals at NBC and Antojitos, but also some not so great meals. It has been awhile, we used to go to Pat O's often (even had private events there) but felt like the quality went kinda downhill.

RIP Tchoup Chop
Can confirm the Shepherds Pie Jacket Potato ar the cart outside Kings Cross is the best lunch in either park.