Last night Universal Orlando grand opened its newest CityWalk restaurant, Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food. It’s the second in a line of unique venues making up CityWalk’s expansion that will continue throughout the year.
Antojitos brings a lively atmosphere to a once sleepy corner of the entertainment complex, previously home to the Latin Quarter restaurant. The bright, bold colors on the outside coupled with a roaming mariachi band playing contemporary pop hits immediately show visitors that this isn’t any ordinary Mexican restaurant.
Video: Tour Antojitos on opening night at Universal Orlando CityWalk
Outside, a remote-controlled bell tops the restaurant’s facade, inspired by Mexican churches in architecture as well as Mexican street markets in color and atmosphere. A VW bus is permanently parked outside serving up mixed drinks while carts roam the area allowing CityWalk guests to grab a quick bite while sitting outside.
Once inside, Antojitos visitors are presented with two options, an open urban downstairs dining room or a cozier, more refined upstairs area. Each has its own menu inspired by “authentic” Mexican fare, not Tex Mex. And each is also centered around a large bar with multiple bartenders ready to serve a variety of cocktails.
Among Antojitos’ best non-alcoholic beverages is their horchata, a creamy and smooth Mexican staple. For those looking for a bigger kick, there’s plenty of tequila to go around, featured in many of the restaurant’s signature drinks. The “Handsome George” is said to be inspired by actor George Clooney’s tastes, a sharp tequila drink with a not-too-sour lime splash. They also serve a massive margarita, which even after many sips still feels a bit bottomless.
The atmosphere inside Antojitos is conducive to relaxing. While there is often a roaming mariachi band, they’re never overbearing, leaving an easy of conversation without screaming over the music. And yes, as noted above the mariachi band often skips traditional Mexican music in favor of playing their renditions of songs by Miley Cyrus and Bruno Mars. Hear them play “Locked Out of Heaven” in the video below.
Video: Antojitos mariachi band covers Bruno Mars at Universal Orlando CityWalk
The band roams on stage, through the dining areas upstairs and down, outside the restaurant, and even onto the upstairs outdoor balconies to entertain CityWalk guests from high above. And that balcony is a great place to dine outside, offering a splendid view of the area that will become even more enjoyable once all the ongoing construction and upgrades are complete.
Antojitos’ menu is a bit pricey, though it should be expected considering its close proximity to Universal Orlando’s theme parks. But the food is well worth the price, for the most part.
For appetizers, the tamale fritters and roasted corn are outstanding, each a unique spin on some Mexican classics.
On the downstairs menu, more typical Mexican food like tacos and enchiladas range from mediocre to good, but none of it is particularly great. Among the best is anything topped with chef Steve Jayson’s rich mole sauce. It’s not the best in town, but it does the trick.
Like the decor, the upstairs menu is a bit more refined featuring Antojito’s best dish: Carne Asada Brava. It’s expensive at $28.95, but the portion size is huge and the flavor is even bigger. Served with fire roasted sweet peppers, this giant hunk of delicious meat is perfectly seasoned and worth splurging for.
Other options include table side guacamole, made fresh to order. It’s good guac, but not quite $13.95 good.
Every meal at Antojitos’ can end with a bang by ordering dessert, all of which are fantastic – particularly the sour cream ice cream.
This new restaurant is an excellent addition to Universal Orlando CityWalk. It may not serve the best Mexican food in all of Orlando, but it’s leaps and bounds better than most theme park restaurants out there and definitely more enjoyable than what was once served in the same location when it was formerly Latin Quarter. Add in a few delightful drinks with an enjoyable environment and Antojitos easily becomes a new no-brainer stop for anyone looking for good food and a nice place to kick back for a while.
And while it lasts, don’t miss the mask painters on Wednesday through Sunday, creating custom plastic Mexican-styled masks for absolutely no cost. That’s right – they’re free for now, even if you don’t dine there.
Antojitos is open daily for dinner service beginning at 5pm. Menus and more information can be found on the official CityWalk web site.
More photos from Antojitos grand opening at Universal Orlando CityWalk:
(Photos by Michael Gavin)