The best restaurants here are just outside the main gates at CityWalk, Universal's restaurant and nightclub venue. But there are more than a dozen places to eat inside the park. Here are my favorites:
- Best Sit-Down Meal: Head to Lombard's Seafood Grille for a hearty fried shrimp basket, as well as a selection of seafood, pasta, salads, and sandwiches ($11-$13) in slightly more upscale surroundings. It's located across from the Disaster! ride.
- Best Counter Service: Try Universal Studios' Classic Monster Cafe for salads, pizza, pasta, and rotisserie chicken ($8-$11) with a side of classic and creepy creatures. It's off 7th Avenue, near Shrek 4-D. Note: The cafe, of late, has only been open seasonally.
- Best Place for Hungry Families: Similar to a mall food court, the International Food and Film Festival offers a variety of foods in a single location. With options ranging from stir-fry to chicken Parmesan, families can easily please all palates (even the pickier ones) under one roof. There are kids' meals for less than $7 at most locations. The fare is far from gourmet, but it is a cut above regular fast food ($8-$11). It's located near the back of Animal Actors on Location!
- Best Snack: Milkshakes ($4-$5) and ice-cream sundaes ($5-$6) at Schwab's Pharmacy make perfect pick-me-ups. It's located across the street from Terminator 2: 3-D Battle Across Time.
- Best Value: At Taverna Opa (tel. 407/351-8660), in the Pointe Orlando complex, the casual yet lively ambience and the Mediterranean cuisine score very high, and prices are low, low, low.
- Best Asian Cuisine: The Mikado Japanese Steakhouse (tel. 407/239-4200), in Marriott Orlando World Center, offers a tastier meal and a more intimate atmosphere than other Japanese steakhouses in the area. For Chinese cuisine, head to Ming Court (tel. 407/351-9988), which offers a menu as impressive as its elaborate surroundings. Emeril's Tchoup Chop (tel. 407/503-2467) takes your taste buds on a tour of the Pacific Rim islands, while its chic and trendy decor is among the most inviting around.
- Best Barbecue: Follow your nose to Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ (tel. 407/295-1212) after catching a whiff of the tangy hickory smoke. It tastes as good as it smells.
- Best Italian Cuisine: It's a toss-up between Bice (tel. 407/503-1415), at Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel, with its chic yet elegant atmosphere, and the more casual Portobello, in Downtown Disney's Marketplace (tel. 407/934-8888).
- Best Seafood: Of the area's many seafood restaurants, the best around is Ocean Prime (tel. 407/781-4880), which combines a lively Sinatra-inspired supper-club atmosphere with a menu filled with fresh ocean fare and service that is simply unsurpassed. Fulton's Crab House (tel. 407/934-2628) offers a creative menu and a rich wine list.
- Best Tapas: Café Tu Tu Tango (tel. 407/248-2222) takes the tapas concept to another dimension, serving items ranging from Cajun egg rolls with blackened chicken to alligator bites in a fabulous artist-loft atmosphere.
- Best Steakhouse: The Capital Grille (tel. 407/370-4392) serves up a menu of dry-aged steaks, chops, and seafood (all prepared to perfection) combined with an award-winning collection of over 400 wines in an elegant upscale atmosphere. Dining at Texas de Brazil Churrascaria (tel. 407/355-0355) is an experience not to be missed, as melt-in-your-mouth cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken are served up tableside at this upscale eatery.
- Best Late-Night Dining: The trendy B-Line Diner (tel. 407/345-4460), at the Peabody Orlando, is open around-the-clock for eclectic fare ranging from steaks to falafel sandwiches to grits and eggs. You won't be able to pass up one of the decadent desserts.
- Best Spot for Celebrating: Emeril's (tel. 407/224-2424), at Universal's CityWalk, and Tchoup Chop (tel. 407/503-2467), at Universal's Royal Pacific Resort, are great choices for a high-end special occasion. For the pure party factor, you can't beat Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (tel. 407/224-2155), at CityWalk.
- Best Sunday Brunch: The champagne brunch at La Coquina (tel. 407/239-3853), at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort, is served in a sun-drenched atmosphere overlooking a lake. The menu usually features such treats as quail, duck, lamb chops, Cornish hen, clams, mussels, snapper, sea bass, sushi, a selection of breakfast favorites, and much more.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.