Universal Orlando's Top 10 Best Quick Service Restaurants

  • 01 of 10

    Number 10: Beverly Hills Boulangerie

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    ••• Among the best counter-service dining options at Universal Studios Florida is Beverly Hills Boulangerie. Universal Orlando

    Planning a visit to Universal Orlando? With all of the walking you'll be doing at the theme parks, not to mention the sensory overload you will be experiencing on the incredible rides and attractions, you are going to get hungry. So, where should you eat?

    If you are looking for a more substantial and pricier meal with waitstaff, head over to my rundown of the top 10 best Universal Orlando table-service restaurants. If, however, you'd rather grab a quick bite, stay right where you are, because, on this and the pages that follow, I reveal the 10 best quick-service dining spots.

    All are counter-service eateries at which you order the food and tote it yourself. Some offer tables in an air-conditioned setting, while others are more grab-and-go affairs. The restaurants are located at the resort's two parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, as well as its dining/entertainment/shopping complex, CityWalk.

    The quick-service restaurants included are not necessarily my personal...MORE favorites. I enlisted a panel of expert judges to help me, and it is their picks on which the rankings are based. See which food and travel writers joined in the survey at the Best Universal Orlando Dining feature. By the way, there are counter-service eateries at Universal's on-property hotels that were eligible for the survey, but none of them earned enough votes to make it to the final top-10 list. For inter-meal nibbling, or to end a restaurant visit on a sweet note, check out the 10 best Universal Orlando snacks and desserts.

    Alrighty, let's start off with the restaurant that grabbed the number-10 spot.

    Restaurant: Beverly Hills Boulangerie
    Location: Universal Studios Florida
    Food: Pastries, coffee, sandwiches, and salads

    It's one of the first dining spots you'll pass as you enter the park. Fittingly, it's also one of the best places to grab a quick breakfast item, such as a stuffed croissant or a decadent muffin. (Hey, I didn't say that it was the most healthful place to grab breakfast.) The coffee is pretty decent also.

    For lunch, the bakery offers soups, salads, and sandwiches, which are OK. But, just as it's one of the first dining places guests encounter when they enter the park, it's also one of the last they pass on their way out of the Studios. And the mouth-watering pastries in the brightly lit cases, such as chocolate croissants and cheesecake, practically scream to passers-by, "Buy me! I'm delicious." Late-night snack, anyone?

    According to one of our judges, Lyn Dowling, food critic and feature writer for Florida Today, Beverly Hills Boulangerie is one of the Universal eateries at which locals frequent and indulge themselves. 

    Next up: Thunder Falls Terrace

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  • 02 of 10

    Number 9: Thunder Falls Terrace

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    ••• At Islands of Adventure, Thunder Falls Terrace is among the park's best casual restaurants. Universal Orlando

    Location: Islands of Adventure
    Food: BBQ and rotisserie meats, salads

    The intoxicating smells of the grilling meats waft out of the restaurant and onto the midway at the park, drawing in diners. Once you've survived the attacks of the rampaging dinosaurs on the Jurassic Park River Adventure, settle down to a hearty meal of rotisserie chicken or turkey legs. BBQ ribs are also on the menu. Alas, there are no brontosaurus burgers.

    Thunder Falls serves salads, soups, and wraps as well, but the specialty items are definitely the smoked, grilled, and rotisserie meats. Vegetarians would probably want to seek another dining spot.

    Next up: Mel's Drive-In

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  • 03 of 10

    Number 8: Mel's Drive-In

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    ••• Looking for a good, quick bite to eat at Universal Orlando? Mel's Drive-In is among the best restaurants. Arthur Levine

    Location: Universal Studios Florida
    Food: Burgers, fries, and other comfort fast food

    Before Star Wars rocketed him to the movie directors' pantheon, George Lucas wrote and helmed the more modest American Graffiti, a 1973 ode to the simpler times of the early 1960s. The teens in the film hung out at the diner, Mel's Drive-In, which is lovingly re-created down to the vintage long-finned cars in the parking lot, at Universal Studios.

    The menu, as you might expect, is all greasy spoon nostalgia fare, including a variety of burgers, onion rings, milkshakes, and root beer floats. The burgers are pretty cool, Daddy-o. As was the custom back in the day, every table comes with its own mini jukebox. 

    Next up: Louie's Italian Restaurant

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  • 04 of 10

    Number 7: Louie's Italian Restaurant

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    ••• One of the best counter-service eateries at Universal Studios Florida is Louie's Italian Restaurant. Universal Orlando

    Location: Universal Studios Florida
    Food: Would you believe pasta and pizza?

    If the joint looks eerily familiar, it should. It's based on the neighborhood restaurant in The Godfather where copious amounts of blood got mixed in with the tomato sauce. (I'm not trying to ruin your appetite here, just giving you some context.)

    The pasta dishes include spaghetti and meatballs as well as Fettucine Alfredo. Louie's serves a number of pizzas by the slice and whole pies, along with a couple of sub sandwiches. During the warmer seasons, it also offers gelato and Italian ices.

    Robb Alvey, of Theme Park Review and a best Universal restaurant panelist, likes the pizza at Louie's and also gives it high marks for its Coke Freestyle machines (which -- continuity alert -- weren't around in The Godfather era).

    Next up: Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck

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  • 05 of 10

    Number 6: Bumblebee Man’s Taco Truck

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    ••• Looking for some decent fast food at Universal Orlando? Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck fits the bill. Seth Kubersky

    Location: Universal Studios Florida
    Food: Would you believe tacos?

    Located in the Simpsons section of the Studios park, the outdoor food truck serves soft-shell tacos with a choice of fillings, including fish, chicken, and steak. In a word: yum! 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.

    Judge Ashley Nichols of Theme Park Foodie says that the truck combines "impeccable theming with delicious cuisine" and that the "tacos are muy bueno!"

    Next up: Classic Monsters Cafe

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  • 06 of 10

    Number 5: Universal Studios' Classic Monsters Cafe

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    ••• Universal Studio's Classic Monster's Cafe is one of the best casual restaurants at the Florida park. Universal Orlando

    Location: Universal Studios Florida
    Food: Pizza, rotisserie chicken, pasta, and more

    The food choices, which is a curious mix of chicken, lasagna, meat loaf, and other seemingly disjointed entrees, are OK. But what really elevates the Monsters Cafe to the number five spot on the countdown 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 (which, ironically, is now owned by Disney), to fill out its parks. But 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.

    Matt Roseboom, editor of Orlando Attractions Magazine and a restaurant panelist, confirms the...MORE prevailing opinion of the Classic Monsters Cafe: "The atmosphere is great and the food is pretty good too."

    Next up: Red Oven Pizza Bakery

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  • 07 of 10

    Number 4: Red Oven Pizza Bakery

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    ••• Red Oven Pizza at CityWalk is one of the best counter-service restaurants at Universal Orlando. Seth Kubersky

    Location: CityWalk
    Food: Pizza and salads

    One of the newer additions to the Universal Orlando dining scene when the survey was conducted in 2014, Red Oven nonetheless scored highly in our top-10 countdown. The restaurant chain, which features wood-fired "artisanal" pizza, has quickly earned a great reputation for delicious pies at the 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.

    Next up: Green Eggs and Ham Cafe

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  • 08 of 10

    Number 3: Green Eggs and Ham Cafe

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    ••• It's only open seasonally, but Green Eggs and Ham Cafe is one of the best quick-service restaurants at Universal Orlando. BehindTheThrills.com

    Location: Islands of Adventure
    Food: You guessed it: Green eggs and ham sandwiches

    When Universal was developing Seuss Landing and the subject of food came up, I'd imagine that everyone on the team insisted that green eggs and ham had to be on the menu. I mean, it's a natural, right? Just seeing the name of the quick-serve restaurant brings a smile to everyone. Of course, deciding to include the Seussian food is one thing. Actually concocting it is quite another.

    What Universal's culinary crew has come up with for the restaurant's signature item is something like an Egg McMuffin. It is a sesame seed bun with some ham slices, cheese, and -- ta da! -- a scrambled egg patty died green. It's certainly an odd sight and more of a curiosity than a gourmet treat. But what a curiosity. For bragging rights alone, you should order a green eggs and ham sandwich. It might be difficult to do that, however, since the outdoor cafe is only open during busier seasons and is often closed.

    Panelist Robb Alvey...MORE of Theme Park Review is overjoyed when he finds the small cafe open for business. "How can you not want to try this?" he asks.

    Next up: Fast Food Boulevard

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  • 09 of 10

    Number 2: Fast Food Boulevard

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    ••• At Universal Studios Florida, there are many great places to grab a quick bite at Fast Food Boulevard. Arthur Levine

    Location: Universal Studios Florida
    Food: All kinds of fast food fare

    Compared to the food food court that it replaced, the Fast Food Boulevard in Springfield, the animated town that is brought to life at Universal Studios, 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. To quote Emeril Lagasse, the celebrity chef who has two restaurants on the property, the resort really kicked it up a notch when it developed the dining area.

    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 part of the Fast Food Boulevard, but it is an outdoor food stand, and our judges voted for it as a separate entity.

    Every inch of the area is stuffed with Simpsons references and gags...MORE which, perhaps, makes everything taste better -- especially for fans of the long-running show. But items such as the chicken and waffle sandwich, served with maple syrup mayo, are quite scrumptious. 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.

    The Springfield Fast Food Boulevard nabbed quite a few number-one voters from our judges and was among the top ten on virtually everyone's list. Erik Yates, editor of BehindTheThrills.com, gave the Simpsons food stands top honors and said, "It's a myriad of flavors that brings the atmosphere of the cartoon to life, something that hasn't been done with food before."

    Next up: Three Broomsticks

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  • 10 of 10

    Number 1: Three Broomsticks

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    ••• The Harry Potter-themed Three Broomsticks is one of the best casual restaurants at Universal Orlando. Arthur Levine.

    Location: Islands of Adventure
    Food: British pub fare

    Three Broomsticks ran away with the top spot among our judges for the quick service restaurant poll. Again, it's more about the atmosphere -- in this case, the wildly popular Harry Potter mythology serves as the theme -- than the actual food. But like the Simpsons Fast Food Boulevard, the food is pretty decent at Three Broomsticks.

    The smoked chicken is particularly tasty, and the Cornish pastries, flaky half-moon-shaped pies filled with ground beef, potatoes, and vegetables, are a UK treat. 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 (that is ​one flavor) and chocolate trifle, two items with which Harry Potter fans should be...MORE 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. 

    Dan Hatfield, owner and editor of OrlandoInformer.com, chose the restaurant as his top quick service pick and said, "While every theme park land has dining options, no restaurant in any park continued the story of its surroundings like Three Broomsticks did with immaculate, engrossing design. There's little doubt that any Harry Potter fan will find his fill."