When the miles of walking to see all the incredible rides and attractions make you hungry, there are plenty of places to eat at Universal Orlando. However, you may want to skip the fancier table-service restaurants in the park and opt for quicker and cheaper meals from restaurants that offer counter service.
All located within the resort's two parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, or its dining, entertainment, and shopping complex, CityWalk, these restaurants offer everything from air-conditioned dining rooms to grab-and-go meals—all with walk-up counter service.
Thunder Falls Terrace
Located within Islands of Adventure and serving up barbecue and rotisserie meats paired with fresh sides and salads, Thunder Falls Terrace is a great place to go after you've survived the attacks of rampaging dinosaurs on the Jurassic Park River Adventure.
The intoxicating smells of the grilling meats waft out of the restaurant and onto the midway at the park, drawing in diners. Order at the counter and settle down to a hearty meal of rotisserie chicken, turkey legs, or BBQ ribs as well as salads, soups, and wraps.
Before "Star Wars" rocketed him to fame, George Lucas wrote and helmed the more modest "American Graffiti," a 1973 ode to the simpler times of the early 1950s. The teens in the film hung out at the diner, Mel's Drive-In, which is lovingly recreated down to the vintage long-finned cars in the parking lot at Universal Studios.
You can even order traditional American foods like burgers, fries, and chicken strips at the counter or from your table. The menu, as you might expect, is all greasy spoon nostalgia fare, including a variety of onion rings, milkshakes, and root beer floats. However, as was the custom back in the day, every table comes with its own mini jukebox.
Louie's Italian Restaurant
Based on the neighborhood restaurant in "The Godfather," Louie's Italian Restaurant serves up pasta and pizza at Universal Studios.
The pasta dishes include spaghetti, meatballs, and Fettucine Alfredo, and Louie's serves a number of pizzas by the slice as well as whole pies, along with a couple of sub sandwiches. During the warmer seasons, it also offers gelato and Italian ices.
Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck
Located in the The Simpsons' section of the Universal Studios park, the outdoor food truck serves soft-shell tacos with a choice of fillings, including fish, chicken, and steak.
As with everything else in Universal's depiction of Springfield, the taco truck is carefully and hilariously themed to the warped Simpsons' sensibility. The poor servers inside the truck have to wear ridiculous bumblebee outfits.
Universal Studios Classic Monsters Cafe
Universal Studios Classic Monster Cafe's food choices—a curious mix of brisket, pizza, vegan platters, and other seemingly disjointed entrees—are decent, but what really elevates this table and counter-service restaurant is its themed environment.
Unlike Disney, which has a treasure trove of beloved animated characters and a strong brand on which to draw for its theme parks, Universal borrows a lot of properties, such as Harry Potter and the Marvel Comics superheroes to fill out its parks.
However, the movie studio is well known for its classic monsters, including The Wolfman, The Mummy, and Frankenstein's Monster, and the restaurant provides a showcase for its creepy gallery. Strewn throughout the eatery are posters, props, busts of the characters, and other fun movie items.
Red Oven Pizza Bakery
One of the newer additions to the Universal Orlando dining scene, Red Oven features wood-fired "artisanal" pizza and has quickly earned a great reputation for delicious pies at the CityWalk resort.
The Neapolitan-style, thin-crust pizzas feature top-notch ingredients, such as San Marzano tomatoes and filtered water. Toppings run from the usual suspects, such as pepperoni and buffalo mozzarella, to more unexpected add-ons like arugula, basil pesto, ricotta, and truffle oil. A few salads are available as well, along with beer and wine.
Green Eggs and Ham Cafe
When Universal was developing Seuss Landing in Islands of Adventure and the subject of food came up, we imagine that everyone on the team insisted that green eggs and ham had to be on the menu. Thus Green Eggs and Ham Cafe was born.
Universal's culinary crew has come up with signature items like Green Eggs & Ham Tots, green eggs with diced ham and white cheese over tater tots. It's certainly an odd sight and more of a curiosity than a gourmet treat, but for bragging rights alone, it's worth a visit.
It might be difficult to do that, however, since the outdoor cafe is only open during busier seasons and is often closed earlier than other restaurants nearby.
Fast Food Boulevard
Compared to the food court that it replaced, the Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield has two things going for it: a compelling Simpsons theme that is hysterically funny and ties everything together conceptually and food that's pretty good.
It's not really one restaurant (although the food stands probably share a common kitchen) but a collection of different food counters, including Krusty Burger, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, and The Frying Dutchman, which features fried seafood. Technically, Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck is also part of the Fast Food Boulevard but can be considered a separate entity since it's located outside.
Every inch of the Fast Food Boulevard is stuffed with Simpsons references and gags that provide a special treat for fans of the long-running show, but items such as the chicken and waffle sandwich served with maple syrup mayo are actually quite scrumptious, too.
The anchor location is Moe's Tavern, which serves both Duff Beer, an actual alcoholic facsimile of Homer's brew of choice, and the Flaming Moe, a non-alcoholic drink that is more of a novelty item than the genuinely tasty and downright addictive butterbeer served at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. For dessert, consider getting a giant, pink-frosted donut at Lard Lad Donuts. It is sickeningly sweet but satisfying and certainly big enough to share among three or four people.
Three Broomsticks is perhaps the most beloved of all quick-service restaurants in the park. Located in Islands of Adventure's Diagon Alley, the Three Broomsticks is more popular for the Harry Potter mythology that serves as the theme than its British pub fare. However, like the Simpsons Fast Food Boulevard, the food is still pretty decent at this imaginary pub come to life.
The smoked chicken is particularly tasty, and the Cornish pasties, flaky half-moon-shaped pies filled with ground beef, potatoes, and vegetables, are a treat straight from the United Kingdom. The Great Feast Platter, an enormous (and pricey) choice, includes a variety of items and is suitable for sharing.
Wash everything down with a delicious butterbeer or, if you prefer something slightly less sweet but still tied to J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, Pumpkin Juice. For dessert, intriguing choices include strawberry and peanut butter ice cream and chocolate trifle, two items with which Harry Potter fans should be familiar.
Speaking of Potter fans, the restaurant looks like it was plucked from the films and books and is jammed with details. Be sure to look up in the rafters for some Potteresque fun.