Best Places to Eat at Universal CityWalk’s Restaurants
With its close proximity to both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida and being only a short walk from all five onsite hotels, Universal CityWalk's restaurants are the perfect place to eat when visiting Universal Orlando Resort. But which ones should you choose on your next visit? Here is an overview of those I've had the pleasure of eating at that may help make your decision-making process easier.
For more comprehensive CityWalk restaurant reviews, read about the awesome menu at NBC Sports Grill & Brew and check out my Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen restaurant review.
7 Best Places to Eat at Universal CityWalk's Restaurants
1. Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
From the live music, festive decor, and decorated VW van out front to the bathroom sink's tile, Antojitos Authentic Mexico Food gets an A+ in ambience.
If you're looking for appetizers or dessert, Antojito's is a must visit. The guacamole and chips made table side can't be beat. And, the gourmet churros are mouth watering.
Click here to check out the full menu.
In terms of the main entrees, I'll be honest. I'm a greasy Mexican food from a dive type of a gal. So, when it comes to recommending main dishes at nicer Mexican food restaurants, I don't consider myself a reliable source. That said, I did find the quesadillas and enchiladas to be delicious, making visiting Antojitos again on subsequent trips to Orlando worthwhile. But, I preferred visiting Antojitos as a starter or for lunch and getting my fill of the chips, guac, and salsa.
2. The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
One of my favorite restaurants to visit when I'm in Orlando? The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. A creative blend between steak/burgers and sushi, this popular hangout offers something for everyone in the family. Case in point? Its menu sports sushi with steak for meat lovers and peanut butter and jelly rolls for the kiddos.
Our family tried Cowfish 2 years in a row. Our favorite dishes? Edamame is always on our appetizer line up because it never disappoints and Cowfish's edamame appetizer was no different. Another tried and true favorite? Calamari. Mmmm! A new appetizer we loved? The Tuna & Avocado-Tini with cubed yellowfin tuna and ripe avocado in ginger dressing.
For the main course, my youngest son can't deviate from a rainbow roll. It's his favorite sushi. And Cowfish exceeded his expectations. For me? I wanted to embrace the steak and fish fusion options, so I ordered The Prime Time Filet & Lobster Roll. And ordered it again the next year. This creative concoction includes lobster and cucumbers inside, topped with seared rare seasoned filet mignon, pan-fried portabella mushroom slices, tossed in truffle oil, green onions and spicy mayo. It is served with a side of pounded ginger sauce.
My husband and oldest son played it safe in year 1 and branched out on our return visit the following year. They loved the Black & Bleu Burger but were glad they took a risk in year 2. My husband tried and loved The All-American Bacon Double Cheeseburgooshi (a beef, cheese, and bacon burger wrapped in soy paper and potato strings, then flash fried and topped with dill pickle, red onion, Roma tomato, and Cowfish sauce). And my son loved The High Class Hillbilly—Southern Style Bar-B-Q-Shi, which is a pulled pork dish with caramelized onion and BBQ sauce, wrapped in potato and flash fried.
Unless you get all fancy and go for something like the Chef's Deluxe 15 Piece Mix of Sashimi, most entrees are under $20 (click here for Cowfish's full menu with pricing and options).
3. Hardrock Cafe Orlando
Our family's idea of the perfect Universal Orlando Resort night out? Attending the Blue Man Group followed by dinner at the Hardrock Cafe Orlando. Our favorite part of any Hardrock Cafe menu is its local burger, exclusive to each restaurant. That the Hardrock Cafe Orlando features Macaroni and Cheese on its local burger—my oldest son's most favorite food—means visiting this popular food joint every time we go to Universal Orlando Resort is a given.
When your table is ready (the wait can be long, so plan ahead), your host or hostess takes you to a spot dedicated to group pictures where he or she will give one of you a guitar and have a photographer snap your picture. This introduces you the restaurant's rock and roll theme and is a fun way to capture your dining memories (you can purchase the picture during dinner).
Hardrock Cafe is a great choice if your family wants recognizable dishes and a great rockin' ambience.
Tip! I just noticed they offer a delicious breakfast menu. I'm for sure trying a Hardrock Cafe breakfast on my next trip to Orlando.
4. Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville
When in Florida, you must eat a slice of Key Lime Pie. And there's no better place on Universal Orlando Resort property than Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville to get your citrus sweet tooth on.
If you want to try more than less of Universal CityWalk's restaurants, make Antojitos your first stop for their table side guac and chips; then dine at either NBC Sports Grill & Brew, VIVO, or Cowfish for your main meal; and head to Margaritaville for dessert. You'll be a CityWalk restaurant expert in no time.
Click here for Margaritaville's full menu.
5. NBC Sports Grill & Brew
From appetizers and entrees with amazing side dishes to dessert, you can't go wrong at NBC Sports Grill & Brew. One of the newer restaurants at CityWalk and closest in proximity to Universal Studios Florida, it's the perfect stopping spot after a long day in the park.
Click here for a comprehensive NBC Sports Grill restaurant review.
NBC Grill & Brew doesn't focus on traditional bar food. Though it has tried and true favorites you'll find in many sports bars, like the Grand Slam Burger, its menu is sophisticated with lots of choices. From Blue Cheese Kettle Chips for an appetizer and Cedar Planked Salmon for a main dish to Apple Crumble for dessert, you can't go wrong from start to finish. Prices range from $13.95 to $24.95 for most entrees with appetizers and dessert being, on average, $8.95 or so. Check out the full lunch and dinner menu here.
6. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen
Everyone visiting Universal's CityWalk restaurants must plan at least one meal at the steampunk inspired Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen. From the Chocolate Almond Bread with Salted Caramel Butter and Bacon Brittle Milkshake for dessert and all the chocolate-inspired dishes in between (and those for non chocolate lovers too), this CityWalk popular dining spot will leave you full and wanting more at the same time.
In the market for a meal? Arrive early and hungry. Just want a milkshake? They've got you covered, but practice your decision-making skills ahead of time as it's hard to choose just one flavor. In the mood for candy or want to take a gift home? The confectionary is the perfect spot for the whole family. Regardless of what you want, go for the experience. You won't regret it!
7. Vivo Italian Kitchen
Who doesn't crave carbs after getting their 10,000+ steps in from a long day at the parks? I know our party of 13 did.
VIVO is a wonderful Italian food restaurant with terrific traditional dishes. Our group enjoyed the Calamari and the Sauteed Mushroom Dip to start our meal although we could have loaded up on the bread alone. After that, we moved onto the main meal, where we enjoyed everything from Gnocchi, Linguine with Clams (my favorite), and Flat Bread to Fettuccine Alfredo, Lasagna, and Chicken Piccata. During another visit, I also enjoyed the squid ink pasta (my first time trying it).
The only thing I didn't absolutely love was the Minestrone Soup. It was much heartier than other versions I've tried and was too filling as a starter. But otherwise, all the dishes exceeded our expectations and the service was the best we received out of all the Universal CityWalk's restaurants we've eaten at.
Less Formal Places to Eat at Universal CityWalk's Restaurants
Not in the mood for a big sit-down meal? Universal CityWalk's restaurants have something for everyone with its quick-service restaurants like Panda Express, Burger King, and Red Oven Pizza and dessert spots like Menchie's, Cold Stone, and Cinnabon. You can also enjoy live entertainment with Cajun-inspired dishes at Pat O'Brien's. So much to love. So little time!
Have you enjoyed Universal CityWalk's restaurants? Where and what do you recommend those visiting eat?