Best restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort invites guests for a taste of movie magic … literally. From quick-service meals to real-deal Italian, the food here is far from an afterthought, serving as yet another can’t-miss attraction you’ll want to check out while at this Orlando theme park complex.

As an added bonus, many spots at Universal Orlando accept advance reservations, although it isn’t mandatory the way it is at so many Disney World restaurants. With more than 100 options to choose from, including choices like British specialties in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and whimsical treats dished up in the colorful landscape of Dr. Seuss, you may still find it overwhelming to plan where to eat across the property’s three parks, entertainment complex and eight resorts. Fortunately, TPG is here to help.

I’ve been to the resort hundreds of times, so it’s safe to say I’ve eaten my way around the property’s sit-down establishments, fast-casual concepts, lounges and on-the-go snack venues. Based on my numerous visits, here are my tried-and-tested best restaurants at Universal Orlando — because whenever hunger strikes, there’s no need to sacrifice taste.

Related: TPG’s complete guide to visiting Universal Orlando

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Best restaurants at Universal Orlando Resort

Best for themed dining: Leaky Cauldron at Universal Studios Florida and Three Broomsticks at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Best for grab-and-go fare: The Hopping Pot at Universal Studios Florida and London Taxi Hut at Universal Studios Florida.
Best for international cuisine: Confisco Grille at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Best for a cheap sit-down meal: Bayliner Diner at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort.
Best for outdoor dining: Mythos Restaurant at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Best for a nice meal with the family: Vivo Italian Kitchen at Universal CityWalk.
Best for breakfast: Today Cafe at Universal Studios Florida.
Best for fried snacks: Green Eggs and Ham Cafe at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Best for chocoholics: Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal CityWalk.
Best for a romantic meal: Bice Ristorante at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel.
Best for American fare: Bigfire at Universal CityWalk.
Best for live entertainment: Pat O’Brien’s at Universal CityWalk.
Best for a poolside meal: beachclub at Hard Rock Hotel.
Best for island-inspired dishes: Strong Water Tavern at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
Best for a sweet treat: Natural Selections at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour at Universal Studios Florida.
Best for an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal: Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
Best for pub grub: Jake’s American Bar at Loews Royal Pacific Resort and Finnegan’s Bar & Grill at Universal Studios Florida.
Best for water park fare: Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona and Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club, both at Universal’s Volcano Bay.
Best for rock star-worthy bites: Velvet Bar at Hard Rock Hotel.
Best for a fusion snack: Cafe La Bamba at Universal Studios Florida.
Best for rooftop views: Bar 17 Bistro at Universal’s Aventura Hotel.

How to make Universal dining reservations

While not every Universal eatery offers fast service without a wait, you can relish the fact that dining reservations are not only available here but are easier to secure than those for many of the best restaurants at Disney World. Most locations will accept day-of walk-ups, but some offer reservations that can be made in advance online, via the mobile app or by phone at 407-224-3663.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s two coveted restaurants — the Leaky Cauldron and the Three Broomsticks — are first come, first served for lunch and dinner, but breakfast reservations can be secured as part of a Universal vacation package.

With hundreds of visits under my belt, I have only made dining reservations a handful of times and that was due to traveling in a larger group. Since reservations are not needed at most lounges and any guest is free to visit Universal’s resort hotels, you can rest easy knowing you are not without options if you decide to skip making reservations.

Best for themed dining

Leaky Cauldron at Universal Studios Florida

The fantastical realm of “Harry Potter” is truly a multi-sensory experience at the Leaky Cauldron. Diagon Alley’s grubby pub and inn from the movies welcomes muggles to enjoy favorites like hand-dipped fish and chips using freshly flown-in North Atlantic cod.


Control your Hagrid-size appetite by ordering one of the best desserts on Universal property: the sticky toffee pudding. The incredibly moist base, which is similar to American-style bread pudding, has notes of butterscotch and is infused with sticky toffee sauce. As if that wasn’t sinful enough, it’s topped with vanilla ice cream and a delicious cascade of toffee syrup.


Three Broomsticks at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

The snow-capped roofs of Hogsmeade Village have welcomed Hogwarts students inside the Three Broomsticks for centuries (or so the story goes). The cozy restaurant — where Potter took his first sip of Butterbeer — offers smoked chicken, shepherd’s pie and the eye-catching Great Feast.


In the morning, the restaurant’s traditional English breakfast, complete with baked beans and black pudding, can’t be missed. It serves as the perfect way to fuel up for a marathon park day.


Related: How to use points to save money at Universal Orlando

Best for grab-and-go fare

The Hopping Pot at Universal Studios Florida

As you wander through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, be sure to save room for some beef pasties at The Hopping Pot. These traditionally prepared bites — which feature a mix of spiced, flavorful beef stuffed inside a buttery, flakey crust — make for the perfect on-the-go item.


To wash down your beef pasties, order an exclusive Wizarding World beverage like the Wizard’s Brew (a dark stout), the Fishy Green Ale (a creamy nonalcoholic concoction with a fun surprise on top) or the iconic Butterbeer (which is available in hot, cold and frozen varieties). The latter is almost too nauseatingly sweet, but it’s a rite of passage for any visit — especially if you enjoy intense flavors of butterscotch.


London Taxi Hut at Universal Studios Florida

Located in the shadows of Diagon Alley, the London Taxi Hut is easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. However, you’d be remiss if you didn’t stop by this small, quick-service outpost, as it’s home to a fascinating signature item: the hot dog in a bun.


A long tube-like bun is hollowed out before your eyes (with an interesting contraption) and then filled with an extra-long hot dog before being passed to you to consume. The meat itself is as expected, but the pillowy bun is incredibly fresh. Not to mention, the bit of a show that comes with preparing the item is entertaining to watch.

Related: Unlock more magic: 16 Universal Orlando secrets to know before your next trip

Best for international cuisine

Confisco Grille at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Situated just past the entrance of Islands of Adventure, Confisco Grille’s menu is globally inspired but approachable with its mix of Asian, Greek and Mediterranean influences. The sweet-and-sticky wings are positively delightful, as is the seasonally rotating house-made hummus, which acts as a refreshing start to the meal. The eatery is also a great spot to visit if you want something a little lighter thanks to menu options like chicken lettuce wraps and a chilled tuna bowl.


Annual passholders can enjoy a special second-floor dining room, the Navigator’s Club, that’s exclusive to them. This section also comes with an outdoor patio that overlooks the park, including its scream-inducing VelociCoaster.

Best for a cheap sit-down meal

Bayliner Diner at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a family-friendly accommodation beloved for its playful retro theming. At this budget resort, you’ll be comforted by the fact that you won’t have to sacrifice good eats for convenience and ease.


The Bayliner Diner serves as the resort’s main quick-service restaurant, and while most speedy spots leave much to be desired, this venue delivers some seriously impressive dishes. If you’re looking for more than cheeseburgers and chicken tenders, consider ordering the Brazilian-style grilled flat iron steak with house-made chimichurri sauce or the flavorful Caribbean jerk-marinated roasted chicken.


Best for outdoor dining

Mythos Restaurant at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

A crown jewel of Universal’s dining scene, Mythos Restaurant has been a longtime fan favorite. With mythological inspiration on its walls, the casual restaurant serves modern approaches to American and Mediterranean cuisine.

The eatery’s stunning inside is reminiscent of a waterside grotto, while its outdoor patio offers wonderful views of the surrounding water. The famous fork, knife and spoon grilled cheese is an elevated version of the childhood favorite and doesn’t disappoint. Not recommended before a coaster, the three-cheese sandwich is served in a bowl of zesty tomato soup and topped with crispy pork belly.

Best for a nice meal with the family

Vivo Italian Kitchen at Universal CityWalk

Vivo Italian Kitchen offers culinary favorites in a comfortable setting that welcomes the entire family. Overlooking an open-air kitchen, the venue gives patrons the chance to feast on artisan pizzas and homemade pasta, all of which are prepared right before your eyes.


Only the freshest of ingredients are used in dishes like mussels marinara, traditional slow-cooked lamb ragu and the crowd-pleasing meatballs. The space carries a bit more of an upscale feel than the other restaurants at CityWalk, but you can still roll in wearing your “Harry Potter” garb.

Best for breakfast

Today Cafe

Inspired by the morning show, Today Cafe is your one-stop shop for fresh baked goods, sandwiches, salads and specialty coffee drinks.

While you can also visit for lunch and dinner, we’re particularly fond of this counter-service spot for breakfast. Highlights include scratch-made cakes and an avocado toast with roasted tomato puree and shaved fennel, which you can enjoy indoors or outside on the spacious patio.

Best for fried snacks

Green Eggs and Ham Cafe at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Tater tots are an American favorite that’s made infinity better in the playful world of Seuss Landing at the Green Eggs and Ham Cafe. This quick-service spot, which sits in a ham-shaped building, dishes out creative twists on tater tots.


Of course, you can get the famous Who Hash, but our favorite version is its namesake. Crispy, freshly prepared tots are loaded with pesto-covered eggs, crunchy ham bits and creamy queso. The portions are generous here, so come hungry or plan on sharing.


Best for chocoholics

Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal CityWalk

This behemoth of a restaurant gets acknowledgment alone for its highly immersive and themed atmosphere — it seriously looks like Willy Wonka’s factory from the outside. Embracing a 19th-century steampunk theme, the multilevel restaurant serves classic dishes made extraordinary with the infusion of chocolate.

Expect unexpected items like flash-fried coffee and chocolate stout chicken wings, plus artisanal milkshakes that are completely over the top but truly memorable.


This is a rare case where we highly suggest making reservations if your heart is set on visiting this eatery, as it can be difficult to snag a table on weekends. A to-go window is offered for a taste of these next-level treats without a seat inside.

Related: Best credit cards for Disney and Universal vacations

Best for a romantic meal

Bice Ristorante at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel

A short boat ride from Universal Studios Florida will transport you to the stunning Italian riviera … sort of.


Loews Portofino Bay Hotel is a breathtaking property that celebrates the beauty (and deliciousness) of Italy. Looking for a date night spot? Bice Ristorante is a small Italian chain straight from Milan. The upscale restaurant is a love letter to the northern part of the country, with standouts including homemade pasta and the 16-month-aged Parma prosciutto.


Our can’t-miss is the eatery’s signature cappellaccio (also known as “little hat” pasta). These ravioli are filled with fresh mushrooms, spinach and braised beef short ribs and come topped with a decadent, creamy marsala sauce.

Best for American fare

Bigfire at Universal CityWalk

If the name didn’t give it away, the emblazoned element across Bigfire’s menu will. The airy, spacious setting here is where you can savor everything from seafood to quality cuts of meat.

Must-try dishes include the wood-charred Brussels sprouts with toasted almond smear, the grilled Creekstone Farms cowboy ribeye and the mouthwatering short rib pasta. The tableside s’mores with all the fixings is another crowd-pleasing option, though prepare yourself for sticker shock when you see the $17 price tag.

For a libation to wash down the delectable fare, try a cocktail made with one of the bourbons in Bigfire’s expansive selection. The smoked old-fashioned is particularly popular, as it’s prepared over oak tableside and topped with beef jerky.


Best for live entertainment

Pat O’Brien’s at Universal CityWalk

An outpost of the New Orleans staple, CityWalk’s version of Pat O’Brien’s serves up boozy hurricanes and surprisingly good food. With Cajun influences and a mix of options for even the pickiest diners, the venue offers dishes like macaroni and cheese with blackened chicken and crawfish etouffee that are loaded with flavor.


Do as the seasoned patrons do and request a table in the piano room so you can unwind and enjoy the incredibly talented live dueling piano show that takes place nightly. It’s a seriously good time that also happens to be family-friendly. Let the good times roll!

Best for a poolside meal

beachclub at Hard Rock Hotel

If you can pull yourself away from the Hard Rock Hotel‘s sandy beaches and a gorgeous pool with underwater speaker systems, the beachclub satisfies that swimming-fueled appetite.

The menu at this open-air restaurant is straightforward, offering unpretentious dishes (think: quesadillas, burgers and flatbreads) prepared with care. Its accessible selection will please everyone, regardless of taste preferences, and the setting can’t be beat.


Related: Splash into fun: The 14 best hotel pools in Orlando

Best for island-inspired dishes

Strong Water Tavern at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

Tucked away in a corner of the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort lobby, Strong Water Tavern celebrates the resort’s island influences across its menu.

Wet your whistle with the eatery’s impressive lineup of global rums, including tastings led by the on-site rum captain. Then, order one (or more) small plates off the food menu, which is inspired by different tropical locales, such as Jamaica, the Bahamas and Cuba. Don’t forget to also check out the ceviche bar featuring an impressive array of local Florida fish and shrimp.

Best for a sweet treat

Natural Selections at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

We have high standards when it comes to churros. The park staple is oftentimes forgettable — but that’s not the case at Natural Selections in the “Jurassic Park”-themed section of Islands of Adventure.

The venue’s dulce de leche churro is exclusive to this location. It packs a perfectly fried churro with rich, luscious caramel and is topped with even more caramel and coconut flakes, putting an elevated twist on the beloved treat.


Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Seuss Landing’s Hop on Pop Ice Cream Shop is where you can get your hands on another quintessential sweet concoction: the Sundae on a Stick. Vanilla ice cream is hand-dipped in chocolate upon ordering before being coated with whatever your heart desires.


The unique treat is simple but playful and delicious, offering quality, creamy ice cream plus loads of decadent chocolate.

Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour at Universal Studios Florida

One thing is for sure at Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour: It does not serve the uninspired, pre-packaged theme park ice cream you’re used to. At the base of Diagon Alley’s fire-breathing dragon, the ice cream shop scoops out tasty servings of ice cream that’s quite possibly the best we’ve ever had.


Available in both hard-pack and soft-serve varieties, the ice cream here comes in wildly inventive flavors that keep us coming back for more. In addition to the standard Butterbeer — it’s Potter’s world, after all — you can enjoy flavors like Earl Grey and lavender, apple crumble and chocolate chili, a personal favorite. The latter is a tantalizing dance on your taste buds that combines sweet richness with a bit of spice.

Related: 13 absolute best things to eat that you can only get in US theme parks

Best for an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal

Wantilan Luau at Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Dinner shows — a dying breed — are luckily alive and well in theme parks, with one of the country’s very best at Loews Royal Pacific Resort. Wantilan Luau brings the spirit of Hawaii to Orlando with an evening of authentic Polynesian food and traditions.

During the all-you-can-eat tropical feast, you can enjoy pit-roasted suckling pig, free-flowing mai tai cocktails and incredible performances by professional fire and hula dancers. Shows take place weekly on Saturdays, with tickets required for adults and kids.

Best for pub grub

Jake’s American Bar at Loews Royal Pacific Resort

Named after fictional South Seas explorer Jake McNally, Jake’s American Bar is our go-to spot for lunch and dinner away from the park. The casual gastropub on Loews Royal Pacific Resort’s lower level shines with familiar food done well.


The must-order item here is, without question, the house-made pretzel rods, which are buttery and served with tangy mustard and four-cheese stout fondue. Beer drinkers will love the bar’s selection of local Florida brews, including Jake’s exclusive red lager.

While at the property, make sure you look for Jake’s seaplane, which floats along the resort-side lagoon.

Finnegan’s Bar & Grill at Universal Studios Florida

Finnegan’s Bar & Grill is a popular spot to grab a cocktail while at Universal, but the lively Irish pub is also a full-service restaurant.

As you enjoy live music from a Dublin-born crooner, you can feast on traditional bangers and mash, Guinness beef stew and an addictive homemade potato leek soup. Don’t worry — there are also plenty of American specialties like burgers, winds and salads for those with less adventurous palates.

Best for water park fare

Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Universal’s Volcano Bay‘s most hyped (and beautiful) treat is a cascading combo of strawberry-, orange-, banana- and blue raspberry-flavored soft-serve ice cream served at Koka Poroka Ice Cream Kona.

An absolute must when visiting the gorgeous water park, the beautiful Waturi Fusion concoction — which is only served at Koka Poroka — has just the right amount of sweetness. It’s the perfect way to cool off while taking a slide break.


Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club at Universal’s Volcano Bay

Theme park fried chicken could be quite dicey, but what about water park fried chicken? Hear us out.

At Kohola Reef Restaurant & Social Club, you can try a coconut-crusted version of fried chicken that’s surprisingly satisfying. Juicy meat is generously coated in a wonderfully crunchy — and slightly sweet — exterior. A mango slaw works in tandem with the layers of flavor. You’ll completely forget that you’re sitting next to a 200-foot-tall volcano while munching on this tasty plate of food.


Best for rock star-worthy bites

Velvet Bar at Hard Rock Hotel

Hard Rock Hotel invites you to live out your inner rock star at the Velvet Bar, an indoor-outdoor space off the main lobby. The venue is fashionable but welcoming — a perfect retreat after a day at the parks. Its menu is composed of mostly small plates, flatbreads and charcuterie boards, but it’s plentiful enough to make a meal out of it.


The lush veranda is ideal for relaxing and sipping on one of the bar’s specialty martinis, which feature playful names inspired by rock and roll. The unassuming spot is also home to nightly live music and the Velvet Sessions, a concert series that has welcomed legendary artists like Joan Jett and Eddie Money.

Best for a fusion snack

Cafe La Bamba at Universal Studios Florida

Not all theme park pretzels are created equally, but we are well aware that this beloved theme park snack comes in handy in a pinch. The pepperoni pizza pretzel available outside of Cafe La Bamba is the harmonious marriage of a wonderfully fresh soft pretzel with a Hot Pocket.


The cheese- and pepperoni-covered item is simply delicious and makes for a hearty snack. If you’re craving a pretzel, it’s much more satisfying than the park’s standard variety.

Best for rooftop views

Bar 17 Bistro at Universal’s Aventura Hotel

Perched sky-high atop Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Bar 17 Bistro is a rooftop bar and restaurant that offers incredible 360-degree views of Orlando’s theme parks, landmarks and lakes.


The energized spot is home to live entertainment, excellent cocktails and a standout menu. It’s the type of place you want to relax in, as it offers many seating areas, from a bar top to tables and lounge seats.

Menu options include small bites like the signature bao buns, plus heartier items such as the signature Rooftop Burger, which is topped with aged cheddar, caramelized mushrooms and a secret sauce.


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