Best Restaurants at Universal Orlando for 2023

in Universal Orlando

The interior of The Leaky Cauldron

Credit: Universal

There’s a lot you think of when you think of Universal Orlando Resort. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, The Simpsons Ride, Minions, Mardi Gras, Halloween Horror Nights… the list goes on. However, one thing many Guests don’t take into account when planning their Universal Orlando vacation is dining.

Planning for dining isn’t nearly as intense for Universal Orlando than it is for Walt Disney World. The Resort is generally less crowded, and many restaurants don’t require dining reservations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t plan! There are tons of delicious restaurants, must-try snacks, and more that Universal Orlando has to offer. This guide will take you through the basics of Universal Orlando dining and help you pick the best options for your 2023 vacation.

horror nights 2018
Credit: Universal

Universal Orlando Dining Basics

Do I need dining reservations at Universal Orlando?

At a majority of Universal Orlando Resort restaurants, a reservation is not required. Reservations are accepted at all table service restaurants, but depending on the season and date you’re visiting, joining a walk-up list is simple. We would recommend getting a reservation for any restaurant you’re deadset on dining at.

How do I make a dining reservation at Universal Orlando?

For most locations, dining reservations become available six months out. You can make reservations online or via phone. Some CityWalk and hotel restaurants may also reserve dining on OpenTable. Guests staying at a Universal Orlando Resort Hotel also get priority seating at the hotel restaurants, meaning you would be given preference over walk-ups not staying at the hotel.

Does Universal Orlando have character dining?

Yes! There are some character dining experiences available. You can enjoy the Marvel Character Dinner at Cafe 4 in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and dine at a buffet with classic Marvel characters like Captain America, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. Some seasonal character dining experiences are also available, such as the Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast around Christmas and The Scareactor Dining Experience during Halloween Horror Nights. All of these require a reservation.

How does quick service at Univeral Orlando work?

Most of the quick service restaurants at Universal Orlando are cafeteria-style, where Guests collect or order what they want at counters, and then bring them up to a cashier. Mobile Ordering is also an option, and Guests can pre-load their credit card to the Universal app and order from select locations ahead of time.

Best Universal Orlando Dining for 2023

Now, let’s get into your best dining picks for Universal Orlando in 2023!

Best Table Service Restaurants at Universal Orlando

What’s the best table service restaurant for families at Universal Orlando?

The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen is one of the most visually striking buildings on the Universal Orlando CityWalk. Inside the building is a fantastical culinary confectionary. This vaguely steampunk-themed restaurant and bar offers a wide variety of savory options with sweet twists; you’ve got to try the Warm Chocolate Almond Bread with Salted Caramel Butter. Entrees here will surely please the whole family, with soups, salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, chicken, burgers, pasta, and more. But dessert is the real star here, especially its famous Specialty Milkshakes. These decadent milkshakes are served with treats like cookies and slices of cake on top, come in a souvenir cup, and will have your kids dreaming of them for weeks to come.

  • Reservations: Recommended, this place can get very busy!
  • Cuisine: American
  • Location: Universal CityWalk, next to the Hard Rock Cafe.
  • Good For: Families, groups who all like different things, dessert lovers

What’s the best table service restaurant for adults in Universal Orlando?

A plate of sushi
Credit: Universal

Let’s move onto something a little more grown-up. The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar is a super unique and delicious dining experience where classic burgers and fresh sushi have fused. You can keep it traditional with the Rainbow Roll or the Royale Burger, or go adventurous and try Burgushi – traditional burger ingredients served sushi style. There are also Bento Box combo meals for the best of both worlds. Wash it all down with a Spiked Shake, Sake, or something from the crafted cocktail menu. This is a great place for groups of adults or kiddos who are adventurous eaters.

  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Cuisine: Asian Fusion, American
  • Location: Universal CityWalk, just before you turn left towards Islands of Adventure
  • Good For: Burger and/or sushi lovers, those who want to try something new

What’s the best table service restaurant in Islands of Adventure?

A large stone building
Credit: Universal

For a relaxing, seated dinner after a long day of Velocicoaster and Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, look no further than Mythos Restaurant. This award-winning restaurant serves up modern cuisine in a mythical setting. Dine on a variety of elegant, fresh options like Brick Oven Roasted Chicken, Pad Thai, and Mythos Signature Lamb Burger. You can also pair your meal with something from the extensive wine list. This celebrated restaurant has won the Theme Park Insider Award for Best Restaurant ten times.

  • Reservations: Recommended during the busy season
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean, Asian, American
  • Location: Islands of Adventure inside The Lost Continent
  • Good For: Those wanting something more elegant, those looking for healthy options

What’s the best table service restaurant in Universal Studios?

A couple dining at a table together.
Credit: Universal

Want to keep the party going after a day at Universal Studios? Head to Finnegan’s Bar & Grill. This is a traditional Irish-American pub serves up classic fare like Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers & Mash, and Fish & Chips. You’ve also got to try the famous Soda Bread or Finnegan’s Potato & Onion Web. You can also find classic Irish whiskeys and beers here, and some great Guinness Mixed Draughts. It’s also a full service pub, and is a great place to stop in for a drink if you don’t want to sit down for a full meal.

  • Reservations: Recommended during the busy season or during Halloween Horror Nights
  • Cuisine: American, Irish
  • Location: Universal Studios in the New York section, across from Revenge of The Mummy.
  • Good For: Beer lovers, those looking for comfort food

Best Quick Service Restaurants at Universal Orlando

What’s the best Harry Potter restaurant at Universal Orlando?

A dining room full of people eating.
Credit: Universal

There are two Wizarding World dining options in the Parks; Three Broomsticks at Islands of Adventure and The Leaky Cauldron at Universal Studios. Both are good picks, but we think Three Broomsticks gets a slight edge. Inside this rustic wizarding tavern you can dine on British and American fare, including Rotisserie Chicken, Smoked Turkey Leg, and Beef Pasties. Of course, you can also get Butterbeer and the specialty Wizarding World beers here. This is also a great spot for breakfast, where you can find both a Traditional English Breakfast, or more American fare like pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs.

  • Reservations: Not accepted. During peak times, there will be a bit of a wait to order.
  • Cuisine: American, British
  • Location: Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure
  • Good For: Harry Potter fans, those who want something beyond a burger and fries

What’s the best quick service restaurant in Universal CityWalk?

A plate with a sandwich on it
Credit: Universal

While CityWalk is known for its table service dining, sometimes you want a quick, late night bite or light lunch between Parks. There are familiar fast food options like Burger King and Panda Express, but we recommend Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches. This is a simple, versatile spot serving up a wide variety of sandwiches like New York Style Pastrami, Hot Turkey, or the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich. They also have cold deli sandwiches and vegan options. It’s usually a lot quieter than the rest of the dining locations on the Universal CityWalk, and the menu will surely have something everyone in your party can enjoy.

  • Reservations: Not accepted. This place usually isn’t busy!
  • Cuisine: American
  • Location: CityWalk, up the stairs next to VooDoo Donuts
  • Good For: Sandwich lovers, those looking for something classic & quick

What’s the best quick service restaurant in Universal Studios?

A burger and curly fries with a "Welcome to Springfield" napkin next to it
Credit: Universal

We’re going to have to give this one to Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield – which is technically cheating, since the area is made up of multiple restaurants; Krusty Burger, Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror, The Frying Dutchman, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Luigi’s, and Flaming Moe’s (it’s also right next to Bumblebee Man Taco Truck). But that’s why this is the best pick; the cafeteria-style area has a HUGE variety of options that will please everyone in your party. Our top picks out of everything here are the Krusty Burger, the Chicken & Waffle Sandwich, and the non-alcoholic specialty drink The Flaming Moe. You can also grab a Duff Beer in the nearby Moe’s Tavern or Duff Gardens. With ample seating, this is great for large parties who want different things.

  • Reservations: Not accepted. Fast Food Boulevard can get a little busy, but since there’s so many options here, it’s usually spread out.
  • Cuisine: American
  • Location: Springfield in Universal Studios, to the left of Kwik-E-Mart.
  • Good For: Groups who all want different things

What’s the best quick service restaurant in Islands of Adventure?

The exterior of Thunder Falls Terrace
Credit: Universal

This was a tough call, but we’re going to have to give it to Thunder Falls Terrace in Jurassic Park. This eatery features fresh and BBQ options like Rice Bowls, Smoked Turkey Legs, Rotisserie Chicken, and Roasted Pernil. This spot is usually pretty quiet and is a great spot for Guests looking for healthier, non-fried options. It also offers a great view of the Jurassic Park River Adventure, and you can watch as Guests take the plunge and get soaked.

  • Reservations: Not accepted. This spot isn’t usually too busy!
  • Cuisine: American, BBQ
  • Location: Jurassic Park in Islands of Adventure, in between Jurassic Park River Adventure and Skull Island: Reign of Kong
  • Good For: BBQ lovers, those looking for a fresh or healthy option

Best Snacks at Universal Orlando

What are the best snacks at Universal Orlando Resort?

Let’s run through a few classic favorite snacks at the two Parks.

A mug of Butterbeer on a table.
Credit: Universal

Of course, you can’t go to Universal without trying Butterbeer. You can get it as a soda, frozen, or hot. Most Guests say that frozen is their favorite, but don’t sleep on Hot Butterbeer – it tastes like butterscotch hot chocolate! You can get Butterbeer in Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) at The Three Broomsticks, The Hog’s Head Pub, and at street carts, and in Diagon Alley (Universal Studios) at The Leaky Cauldron, The Fountain of Fair Fortune, The Hopping Pot, and at street carts. But be mindful: not all locations serve all three types.

A box containing a giant pink donut.
Credit: Universal

If you want a big snack you can split with the whole family, definitely head to Lard Lad Donuts in Springfield for The Big Pink. It is a MASSIVE, pink frosted donut with sprinkles that can easily serve 4+ people. And it’s only $4.99! There’s also a variety of other “D’oh-nuts,” ice cream, and D’oh-nut Sundaes.

Speaking of donuts, if you’re looking for something a little more creative, check out the beloved Voodoo Doughnut on the CityWalk. Sure, it may technically be a chain, but who can say no to over 50 types of specialty doughnuts? You’ll have a hard time choosing between classics like the Voodoo Doll, the Diablos Rex, the Bacon Maple Bar, and the Universal Orangecicle. Or you can try them all with one of their Dozens. They also have a wide selection of vegan doughnuts!

The exterior of Green Eggs & Ham Cafe
Credit: Universal

If you’re looking for a more savory snack, head to Green Eggs and Ham Cafe in Seuss Landing inside Islands of Adventure. Here you can find a variety of tater tot snacks, including Carnitas Tots, Pizza Tots, Buffalo Chicken Tots, and, of course, Green Eggs and Ham Tots. You can also try the famous Who Hash here!

Two women are served at a bar.
Credit: Universal

For a unique cocktail, you’re going to want to stop by Chez Alcatraz. Located on the docks in the San Francisco area of Universal Studios, this is a limited service bar with a wide variety of beers, wine, and specialty cocktails. Pro Tip: You’re going to want to order the Ocean Attack, made with coconut rum, blue curacao, Sprite, pineapple juice, and grenadine. It’s not really about the drink… it’s about the presentation. Trust us on this one.

A hand holding an ice cream cone
Credit: Universal

Finally, let’s talk ice cream. There are numerous spots where you can get classic scoops of chocolate and vanilla, but if you want something a little more unique, try something from Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour in Diagon Alley inside Universal Studios. Here you can find unique flavors like Chocolate Chili, Clotted Cream, Earl Grey & Lavender, and of course, Butterbeer. Don’t worry, they have the classics here, too.

Of course, we have barely scratched the service of Universal’s dining offerings. Be sure to explore Inside the Magic for more tips, and happy eating!

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