October 2011: Sea World has five general levels of dining: Dinner show, full-service, buffet, fast food, and limited food items sold in stores. Beer is served in most locations, and mixed drinks in a few. Most restaurants are on, or near, the main lake – and most can be found by taking a right once inside the park and heading toward the Sky Tower (the tallest thing you see). For an overview of Sea World dining and tips, read Eating inside Sea World.
Makahiki Luau at Seafire Inn (Turn right at entrance, go under “Waterfront” sign, turn right.) The Seafire Inn does double duty as a restaurant during the day and a luau at night. Indoor stage and tables host the once-per-day (usually) Hawaiian-themed presentation that includes Pacific-style food. The show includes, hula dancing, fire dancing, traditional songs; and has a Broadway style as much as a worship-the-tiki-gods style. Adults cost $46, children 3 to 9 $29 plus tax. Park admission is not required.
Note: Dine with Shamu remains closed but should reopen soon.
Shark’s Underwater Grill (Right at entrance, past the Sky Tower, on left at Shark Encounter.) Unlike Disney and Universal parks, you can’t easily leave Sea World for an upscale sit-down dinner, and Shark’s Underwater Grill compares to the finer restaurants found in Disney’s Epcot. Low lighting, upscale service, and shark-view windows make the restaurant something you won’t find back home. Request a tank-side table, though most have a decent view. An attached lounge serves tons of specialty drinks and features a unique aquarium bar.
Appetizers/salads: Soup of the day ($5); romaine, spinach, or citrus Caesar salad ($6); bruschetta ($8); stuffed mushrooms ($8); shrimp cocktail ($8.50)
Meals: Chicken Alfredo ($24), Cuban pork ($24), seafood combo ($25), salmon ($25), chicken Portobello ($25), merluza ($26), shrimp pasta ($26), filet mignon ($29), N.Y. strip ($32), surf and turf ($35)
Captain Pete’s Island Eats (Keep bearing left inside entrance; near Dolphin Cove.) Theme park favorites served on a single stop with covered outdoor seating. Features funnel cake ($4.30), hot dogs ($6), nachos ($6.70), turkey legs ($7), and chili cheese dogs ($7.70).
Seaport Pizza (Near Sky Tower where Manta crosses walkway.) Pizza options range from cheese ($6) to supreme ($6.60), along with salad ($3.30) and fries ($3). Dining outdoors and semi-covered.
Antarctic Café (Across from Penguin Encounter and near Journey to Atlantis.) This fairly traditional – not much atmosphere – theme park restaurant has deli selections and hot items. It also offers a family “meal deal” with four hot dogs, fries, and drinks for $27. But oddly, the only single hot dog on the printed menu is for kids.
Sandwiches: Veggie wrap ($7.50), ham/cheese ($8), turkey ($8), Buffalo chicken ($8), barbecue pork
Meals: ($8), chili ($9), Caesar salad ($9)
Voyager’s Smokehouse (Right at entrance; go under “Marketplace” sign.) If you enjoy Southern barbecue served in an Italian-style village – happy plastic pigs beside murals of 15th Century explorers – you’ll love Voyager’s. A massive indoor dining area has plenty of space, and lower lighting gives it some atmosphere. Food served cafeteria-style.
Salads/sandwiches: Caesar salad ($9), barbecue chicken salad ($9), chicken sandwich ($9)
Meals (all barbecue): Chicken ($10 to $11), beef brisket ($11), spare ribs ($11 to $13), baby back ribs ($13 to $16), chicken-spare rib combo ($12), sampler platter ($15)
Sides: Dill pickle ($2.60), cole slaw ($2.60), corn on cob ($2.60), baked bean ($3), fries ($3), salad ($3)
Seafire Inn Restaurant (Right at entrance; go under “Marketplace” sign.) An Italian-style building that also serves Asian selections and hosts a luau at night, the Seafire Inn does it all. But the food is decent, the atmosphere relaxing, and the lakeside location appealing. Most tables indoors.
Salads/sandwiches: Garden salad ($3.30), Caesar salad ($8.30), turkey sandwich ($9), club sandwich ($9)
Meals: Vegetable stir fry ($8), chicken stir fry ($10), fish and chips ($10), penne pasta ($10), chicken parmigiana ($11)
The Spice Mill (Right at Entrance past Sky Tower and on right.) Lakeside indoor and outdoor dining, with a menu that feels a bit lighter than its neighbors. Stylish décor gives it a modern, anywhere-in-the-world feel.
Meals: Club sandwich ($8), chicken salad/flat bread ($9), Caesar salad ($9), garden burger ($8.30), hamburger ($8.60), vegetable chili ($9), grilled chicken sandwich ($9), cheeseburger ($9)
Terrace Garden Buffet (Turn right at entrance, pass Sky Tower, and circle lake – it’s in the back.) An out-of-the way restaurant with tons of indoor and outdoor tables, the Terrace Garden Buffet once served free beer when Anheuser Busch owned the park, and the modern building’s many windows overlook landscaped gardens and clear (fake) lakes.In 2011 it became off-limits to any guest except those who want to enjoy the all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s not expensive food, but a good deal in a nice location for tired tourists. Adults pay $11,99 plus tax; ages 3 to 9 pay $7.99.
Meals: Pizza, pasta, salad, and pie
Mango Joe’s (On Shamu-side of lake and one of the few not close to Sky Tower.) While all seating is outdoors – most of it covered – guests can eat lakeside if they walk back far enough.
Meals: Veggie wrap ($8), chicken wrap ($8.70), chicken tenders ($9), salad ($9), turkey sandwich ($9), fajita salad ($9), fajita sandwich ($9 to $10 depending on meat selected)
Limited food items
Cypress Bakery (Inside entrance on right.) Lots and lots of baked goods from $2.70 to $5, along with a Starbucks-like selection of coffee, lattes, mochas, tea, etc.
Sweet Sailin’ Candy (Inside entrance on right.) Lots and lots of candy in the $3 to $5 range.
Polar Parlor Ice Cream (Inside entrance on right.) Whale-shaped ice cream bars ($3.30), root beer floats ($4), and other ice cream concoctions ranging from $3.30 to $5.
Soft Serve Ice Cream (Across from Penguin Encounter.) The non-unique restaurant name says it all. Waffle cone sundaes sell for $4.50.
Voyager’s Snacks (Near Sky Tower at entrance to Voyager’s Restaurant.) Turkey legs ($7) and homemade potato chips with optional toppings ($4).
Café de Mar (Near Sky Tower.) Roasted nuts, cotton candy, smoothies, and coffee.
Sea Harbor Soft Serve (Far right side of lake near kid rides.) Creamy ice cream concoctions from $3 to $4.50