Dining at Universal?
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Okay I admit it. We're THAT family-the family that goes to WDW every September because we love free dining. There-I said it--we love a good discount. okay we NEED a good discount! Yep, we're a family of 5 & free dining saves us a ton-plus thanks to the WDW free dining promo we've had just about every character meal in the World. So here's the problem: I have no clue where to start with looking for restaurants at Universal. There seems to be a lack of "character" meals, and that's fine but I need some suggestions. Please tell me we're not gonna be living on amusement park hot dogs, chicken nuggets & pizza the whole trip!
I think Universal does have a "meal deal" ticket that you can buy. But the parks don't really have restaurants like the Disney parks do. I can only remember seeing one or two "sit down" eateries at each park. (The rest were more like Harbor House, etc) We ate fish & chips at Three Broomsticks ...it was good, but the meal ran us $50 and that was just for lunch!! So we waited till we left the park for dinner.
we had an amazing meal at the italian restaraunt at the Portofino. Now it was not cheap, but the amounts are huge! My husband and I split and entree with no added charge and my kids loved their kids meals. My DD was 13 at the time and they even let her order off the kids menu.
There really is no cheap dinning at universal. I cashed in some points from a CC and got hard rock cafe gift certificates which worked out well. So that meal was free too. If you have any specific questions let me know. I was there in August.
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When on vacation, we like to try places we haven't eaten before and being near Destin & Pensacola, so many of the eateries at City Walk are within an hour drive of us since our area caters to tourists. But that Italian restuarant at Portofino's sounds tempting. We did do the Pirates Dinner Theater last spring, which is just minutes from Universal. DS got to be in the show and it was fun. While the food wasn't wonderful, it wasn't bad either. Food was served out like they do at Dixie Stampede.
Most of the restaurants at Universal are located in the resorts or in CityWalk. Emeril's Tchoup Chop is very good and we also loved Mamma Della's Ristorante at Portofino Bay. Bubba Gump's at CityWalk was surprisingly good as was the Hard Rock!
Several have already suggested City Walk for dining. In our experience, it's far superior to the restaurants in the parks. IOA has one nice restaurant, called Mythos. Other than that, it's fast food, and I don't really like it. The Meal Deal is not a good idea. It's only good for a couple of restaurants in each park, and when we were there, in the middle of JUNE, one of the biggest quick service places on the Universal side closed at 4:00 pm...and they didn't serve breakfast...just lunch and then closed. I had a hard time believing it!
On the other hand, City Walk has several nice options for food...Margaritaville, Bubba Gump's, Hard Rock Cafe, NASCAR Cafe, and even an Emeril's for really fine dining. You need a reservation for Emeril's, but not for any of the others.
We loved Bubba Gump's, Margaritaville and the Hard Rock. We ate at the Panda Express as well which was in a building that housed a few different quick service places. Universal was limited on the sit down places but where we did eat was fantastic.
We just got back from Universal. Since you're used to "free dining" you'll be in a bit of sticker shock. We ate at Emeril's Tchoup Chop.... the meal wasn't as good as what I can get back here at home and ran us $175....for 2 adults and an 11 yr. old! I was so disappointed in the meal, in fact we all were, but the restaurant was beautiful. We ate at Mythos and again, for the price, we were not happy. My panini sandwich bread was so tough it loosened my crown! So I got a sad sandwich and a dental trip out of that meal. I'm honestly not sure what restaurant I would happily suggest someone trying at the parks. We did eat at Finnegan's (Universal Studios) and I had a very good Rueben at a fair price and I've heard Lombardi's is good but can't verify that. If you stay at the Royal Pacific, I'd suggest trying Jake's. My steak there was perfect, the salads were large and delicious, and it was the only restaurant I'd go back to there. But they're all pricey. There's only one restaurant at Royal Pacific that truly offered breakfast, but we felt that laying out $65-70 for breakfast for 3 of us a bit excessive and their food didn't warrant the price tag. I guess, if you're going to Universal, the best suggestion I can give is to get ready to bite the bullet on dining costs and pick eateries that fit your budget and tastes. There's tons to choose from at City Walk, just not much dining offerings (sit-down) at the parks. And there's an IHOP just minutes from the parks....lots of food at a good price.
We ate at lombardi's at least once everyday when there. It is a bit pricey but we were full and snacked the rest of the time at the parks. My son has many food allergies and they had no problem making special food for him with no prior notice. Worth the price-about the same as Disney if not a little cheaper but it's been a couple of years.