On a recent getaway to Universal Orlando, my husband and I spent our evenings eating, shopping, relaxing and people watching at Universals CityWalk. CityWalk is the center point of the action connecting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Whether you are looking for food, nightlife, souvenirs or some family fun, CityWalk has something for everyone.
On this trip, we concentrated on the food. Our first stop had to be at Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. I had seen so many photos of the ice cream creations that I could not wait to try one of them. We started with a tasty meal from the savory side of the menu. My husband had the cheesy French Onion Soup followed by the Southern Fried Chicken BLT. I went straight for a dinner of Brisket and Wild Mushroom Meatloaf with roasted corn, crispy onions, mashed potato and bordelaise sauce. All were delicious. There were so many options on the menu that we wanted to try including Truffle Fries, Waldorf Salad, Gnocchi, Wild Mushroom and Chicken Risotto, Shrimp and Lump Crabmeat Macaroni and Cheese…. We could have eaten there every day and not tried all the things that sounded good to us.
For the icing on the cake (literally), we decided to share the Confetti milkshake. The milkshake creation options included, Key Lime Pie, Chocolate X5, Strawberry Cheesecake, Expresso Bzzzz, Brownie, Cookie Jar, Heavenly Hazelnut, Marshmallow Crisp, Red Velvet and Thrilla in Vanilla. It was so hard to choose but the Confetti was scrumptious. We were happy that we shared it because we were stuffed when we finished. Glad we weren’t headed for any roller coasters that night!
On the second day of this visit, we were in need of a Mexican fix. My husband and I both love TexMex so we went to Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food. The highlight for us was, believe it or not, the salsa. The texture was just right with a nice amount of garlic and spices. My husband stuck with his favorite Fajitas but I was ready to try something different. I ordered the Mar y Tierra. It was sautéed shrimp, Mexican chorizo and skirt steak in a roasted chipotle tomato sauce with queso fresco, house rice and house made tortillas. There was plenty to share with my husband and we both loved it. When you order the Guacamole appetizer, they bring a rolling tray to you with all the ingredients to prepare it tableside to your liking. What a treat!
VIVO Italian Kitchen was our next stop. After a full day at Universals Volcano Bay, we were ready for a good meal. I love a hearty Italian bread served with a great olive oil, so I was in heaven from the start of this meal. I feasted on the bread while my husband enjoyed the calamari appetizer. The server explained that everything here was homemade including the pasta. There were some exotic sounding choices like, Beef Carpaccio appetizer… shaved raw beef, arugula, grana Padano, capers, lemon, mustard and olive. Also, on the pasta menu, Squid Ink Seafood… shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, white wine, basil and black squid ink spaghetti. We decided to stick with what we know. I ordered the Cannelloni, spinach and tomato pasta, marinara, spinach, ricotta and bechamel. I loved this dish. You could tell that the pasta was homemade. The spinach and cheese mixture were so tasty with some toasted parmesan on top. My husband had a hard time choosing between the Chicken or Veal Picatta. In the end, he picked the chicken made with white wine, lemon, capers and served with linguine. He was happy with his choice and we left rubbing our full bellies.
After our last day enjoying all the rides and shows at Universal Studios and Islands of adventure, we rested a little and headed out to the first place we saw every time we took the water taxi in from Portofino Bay Resort, NBC Sports Grill & Brew.
We were ready to just hang out in the air conditioning with some appetizers and big juicy hamburgers. We were seated close to the open kitchen so we watched the cooks grilling the burgers and wings. My husband decided to compare the Crispy Calamari here to what he had at Vivo. I’m pretty sure he liked both of them. We also had an order of Garlic Parmesan Wings. By the time we got to our hamburgers, we were already full, but that didn’t stop from devouring them.
My husband is a purest when it comes to burgers, so he did not order anything fancy. He was very pleased when the server told him that the burgers were indeed cooked to order and agreed that the only way to serve them is medium rare. I am a little more adventurous and ordered the Pimiento burger with pimiento cheese, jalapeño bacon, garlic aioli, pork rinds, Bibb lettuce, and fresh tomatoes on a toasted brioche bun.
My other option was the Fired Up Jalapeño with Jalapeño-jack cheese, jalapeño bacon, fried jalapeños, Bibb lettuce, tomato, and brown sugar ketchup on a toasted brioche bun. I guess I was in the mood for something spicy! I loved the Pimiento burger. The stand out flavor was the jalapeño bacon. It gave me the spice that I was looking for and might have been a little too much for me combined with the cheese and fried jalapeños on the other burger. We almost regretted our decision to have hamburgers as we sat and watched the food being delivered to tables around us. We had seen the Buffalo Mac & Cheese and the Chicken Pot Pie on the menu. We were tempted to change our order when we saw both of them pass by being delivered to other patrons. They both looked so good but again, we left the restaurant full and satisfied after our burgers and fries.
Oh, I almost for got to mention all the pink boxes we saw people carrying around. Voodoo Doughnut is a very popular place at CityWalk. They had to have an employee directing us to a line outside the store because there were often too many people inside. They have a very unique selection of doughnuts and they certainly aren’t just for breakfast. We had the worst time decided on which of them that we wanted to try. We walked around with a picture menu for an hour before venturing in and then we changed our minds after standing at the counter looking at the samples under glass as if they were displaying fine jewelry.
It’s a really fun place to visit with a fun selection of doughnuts. Their choices include doughnuts with Fruit Loop, Cocoa Puffs or Captain Crunch cereal on top, maple bacon, a mango jelly sprinkled with Tang along with classics like Apple Fritters, Old Fashioned and blueberry cake. We tried 6 different doughnuts and couldn’t decide on a favorite. This is another place that we will make a return visit.
We had such a great time eating our way around Universals CityWalk, and are already planning our next trip. There are so many places to feast here… we might have to make several trips!
If you’re interested in a trip to Universal Orlando, make sure you have plenty of extra time to experience CityWalk. And check with Coasters & Castles Travel/ Trina Noggle for some planning help.