Travel TipsUniversal Orlando
By Jen on January 5, 2023
January 5, 2023
With literally so many options to choose from, perhaps you’re wondering about the best restaurants in Citywalk Orlando?
With all the theme park thrills and activities at CityWalk, you’re guaranteed to work up a big appetite!
Luckily, there’s no shortage of amazing restaurants in Universal Orlando’s Citywalk and your final selection may come down to the availability of a table and whether or not you have a reservation or your individual cravings on the day of your visit.
Either way, here is a complete breakdown of the best restaurants in Citywalk, as well as suggestions for ordering their most popular dishes and desserts!
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Best Restaurants in Universal Orlando Citywalk
Universal Orlando’s Citywalk is a gigantic hub of restaurants (both sit-down and quick-service), nightclubs, and shops.
As a visitor to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, you must first walk through Universal’s Citywalk in order to get to the entrance of either theme park.
This was very strategic of Universal in that the plethora of brightly colored restaurants, lit-up signs, and bustling atmosphere here will definitely pique your interest and curiosity – as well as tantalize your taste buds!
You will most definitely find yourself wondering which of the many restaurants here is the best, as well as how you can incorporate dining at as many of them as possible into your Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure touring plan.
Pro Tip: You can visit Universal Orlando’s Citywalk and the following restaurants without having a park ticket to the Universal theme parks. Simply park in the Universal parking ramp if you’re visiting or staying off-site (parking is free after 6 PM), go through the security checkpoint, and make your way to CityWalk. Ticketed entry is only necessary when looking to enter the actual theme parks.
1. Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen
Our top pick for the best restaurant in Citywalk is the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen.
First off, what a name!
When I first saw the name of this restaurant I wondered what in the world they served there, and if everything was made of chocolate?
Come to find out, Toothsome serves classic American dishes like steak and seafood, as well as more casual fare such as sandwiches, flatbreads, and hamburgers.
The twist, however, is the unique flair to each of their dishes, their famous artisanal milkshakes, and gourmet desserts and chocolates, as well as its funky decor of gizmos, gears, and gadgets.
This is THE place to eat at Universal’s Citywalk with a pretty cool gift shop and candy shop too!
Notes about Toothsome Chocolate Factory:
- This is the most popular restaurant in Universal Orlando Citywalk and wait times can get long. Reservations are strongly recommended.
- There is a walk-up window if you’re just looking to order one of their Instagram-worthy milkshakes.
- The milkshakes come in a plastic souvenir mug for you to keep!
- Toothsome is located directly next to the entrance to Islands of Adventure, adjacent to Hard Rock Cafe (look for the giant smoke stacks!)
- Our favorites: Warm Chocolate Almond Bread appetizer with caramel butter, The Red Reuben and Croque Monsieur sandwich, and a That’s “Mint” specialty milkshake.
2. The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
Next on our list of the best restaurants in Citywalk is The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar.
The thing that we love about this place is the sheer genius of combining two niche menu items – burgers and sushi – into a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Cowfish’s fresh (never frozen!) burgers and innovative sushi platters are complimented perfectly by their spiked, hand-spun milkshakes and amazing kids’ menu.
There is truly something for everyone to enjoy when dining at Cowfish.
Our kids still talk about the kids’ menu Bento Boxes that allowed them to sample both Cowfish mini burgers and their very first sushi roll!
Notes about The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar:
- The Cowfish has a fun and quirky atmosphere and features colorful décor that mixes things like chandeliers and virtual aquariums.
- There is a large, elevated, open-air patio at Cowfish with great views over the rest of Citywalk.
- Located on the main walkway in front of Citywalk – you can’t miss it!
- Our favorites: Bento Boxes (both kids and adult versions), The Jalapeno Popper Show-Stopper burger, and their signature fishbowl specialty cocktail.
3. Hard Rock Cafe
Don’t miss the chance to dine at Hard Rock Cafe during your Orlando family vacation!
The Hard Rock Cafe (HRC) located in Universal’s Citywalk is the largest HRC in the world, which is why we rank it as one of the best restaurants in Citywalk to visit during your stay.
What looks like a Roman coliseum from the outside, Citywalk’s Hard Rock Cafe contains more pieces of music memorabilia than any other HRC.
We loved getting to see the original guitars of music’s biggest idols, the gigantic full-size pink Cadillac over the main bar on the lower level, as well as watching music videos while we ate.
It has a pretty amazing menu too!
Notes about Hard Rock Cafe:
- Be sure to check out the Hard Rock Cafe gift shop for exclusive Hard Rock gifts and apparel.
- Huge portions, impressive wait staff, and an awesome ambiance.
- Located next to the entrance to Universal Studios, adjacent to Toothsome Chocolate Emporium.
- Our favorites: The Original Legendary Burger and Steak Salad along with a Rockin’ Fresh Rita.
4. Antojito’s Authentic Mexican Food
When someone told me that Antojito’s Authentic Mexican Food features freshly-made tableside guacamole, I knew we needed to try this place!
Needless to say, the fresh guac did not disappoint!
We rank Antojito’s as one of the best restaurants in Citywalk for its tasty, classic Mexican dishes, their gigantic dining area, and the excitement of a live mariachi band serenading you throughout dinner.
Notes about Antojito’s Authentic Mexican Food:
- The mariachi band only plays on select nights.
- Classic made-from-scratch Mexican street fare.
- Huge dining area that is very spread out and has a lively cantina-like atmosphere.
- Our favorites: Tableside Guacamole appetizer, Guisado, and sizzling Combo Fajitas
Though we did not personally have the chance to dine at Bigfire, it is frequently mentioned as being one of the best restaurants in Universal’s Citywalk.
Bigfire offers more of an upscale ambiance and experience, as well as features open-fire cooking.
This is THE place to go for steak and seafood in Citywalk (with $$$ prices to match) and is perfect for families looking for classic American fare in a more refined environment than other restaurants found here.
Bigfire is also known for its Tableside Smores which includes marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate, and peanut butter cups that can be roasted right at your table.
Check our their menu here.
6. Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville
If you haven’t been to a Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville Restaurant, here’s your chance!
Citywalk’s Margaritaville is a welcoming spot for relaxation while touring the busy Universal theme parks.
The tropical, laid-back atmosphere, live Jimmy Buffet music, indoor palm trees, and anticipated eruption of the margarita-filled volcano at The Volcano Bar make this by far, one of the best restaurants in Citywalk!
We are huge fans of Margaritaville as it is very family-friendly, yet in a Caribbean tiki bar-like atmosphere that we as adults love too!
If you’re looking for an exciting, yet relaxing place to dine in Citywalk, Margaritaville will not disappoint!
Notes about Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville:
- Located right next to Antojito’s as well as the walkway to Loew’s Royal Pacific, our favorite Universal Resort.
- There is often a live outdoor guitarist on the Porch of Indecision (the nickname for Margaritaville’s patio).
- There are 10 different types of margaritas here. Another reason you’ll leave feeling ‘happy’!
- Our favorites: Volcano Nachos, Fish Tacos, and Coconut Shrimp.
7. Hot Dog Hall of Fame
Unlike the other restaurants listed in our “Best of Citywalk” list that offer indoor dining and reservations, the Hot Dog Hall of Fame is our favorite quick-service restaurant found here!
Ever since our family vacation to Chicago and experiencing a Chicago hot dog, we are obsessed with trying out other iconic city hot dog styles.
Citywalk’s Hot Dog Hall of Fame rounds up the country’s most iconic franks all in one location!
The Hot Dog Hall of Fame has a walk-up counter that offers 15 different styles of gourmet hot dogs ($8.99/ea.), featuring favorites from cities such as Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Kansas City.
They also offer regular, gluten-free, vegan, and classic foot-long hotdogs for those wanting to stick to the basics.
Our favorite: The Chicago Hot Dog.
This all-beef dog on a poppy-seed bun, topped with yellow mustard, neon relish, sport peppers, diced onions, a pickle spear, tomatoes, and a dash of celery salt, is just as good as the ones we ate on an actual Chicago Food Tour!
8. Vivo Italian Kitchen
Though the name sounds fancy, Vivo Italian Kitchen has a super family-friendly atmosphere and is reasonably priced with large portions.
Not only will you enjoy some great Italian food at VIVO, but you can also watch while the food is prepared in their open kitchen.
Sit back with a glass of classic wine, and watch their chefs tossing pizzas, baking fresh bread, and making various pasta and sauces.
Favorites here include the short ribs and risotto, linguine and clams, chicken parmesan, and their rum cake!
This is one of the best restaurants in Citywalk that you won’t forget!
9. VooDoo Donuts
Finally, though not an actual restaurant, you absolutely have to try a VooDoo Donut when visiting Universal Citywalk!
First off, this place is hugely popular and is a bit of a local phenomenon.
Not only can you line up for counter service to get one of their specialty donuts, but you can place a mobile order and pick up a box to take with you as you leave the park and then eat in the morning for breakfast.
This is why you’ll see tons of staff and boxes of donuts stacked up outside of the shop in the evening as customer stop to pick up their orders before leaving the park.
Some of their famous donuts include the Gingerbread Man, Polar Bear, VooDoo Doll, Ring of Fire, and the Dirt ring donut, just to name a few.
Best Citywalk Orlando Restaurants: Honorable Mention
- Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom (Jamaican food)
- Pat O-Briens (New Orleans style-food)
- NBC Sports Grill & Brew (Classic bar/grill)
- Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. (Southern favorites)
- Red Oven Pizza Bakery (made-to-order Neapolitan-style pizza)
Have you visited any of the places that made our list of the best restaurants in Citywalk? If so, which was your favorite, and why would you recommend it to others? Happy travels ya’ll!Jen
If you liked reading about the best restaurants in Universal Orlando Citywalk, continue planning your Universal Orlando vacation here:
- Universal Studios Touring Plan: 1-Day Itinerary
- Islands of Adventure Touring Plan: Complete 1-Day Itinerary
Universal Orlando Tips:
- 45 Tips for your First-Time Visit to Universal Orlando
- What to Bring to Universal Studios (+Day Bag Tips)
- 9 Big Differences Between Disney World and Universal Studios
- Loews Royal Pacific at Universal Orlando: 9 Reasons to Stay
- A Complete Guide to the Lockers at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando Rides:
- Is Universal Express Pass Worth It? A Detailed Look!
- Top 7 Best Rides at Islands of Adventure
- Top 7 Best Rides at Universal Studios Florida
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