CityWalk sits between Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios, making it the preferred spot for an upscale dinner if visiting either attraction. Leave the park; eat and relax; go back for more stomach-churning fun.
While CityWalk can’t escape its roots – thousands of guests wearing T-shirts and toting cameras – some restaurants draw in tourists, a few appeal to gourmets, and many attract the dance-drink-party crowd. A rule of thumb: Full-service restaurants passed en route to one of the theme parks have the highest appeal or name recognition. A second tier has good but lesser-know restaurants, as well as a handful of fast-food joints.
Guests enter CityWalk from massive garages via moving sidewalks. Go straight through CityWalk and you end up at Islands of Adventure. Take the first right about a block in – by a lake– and you end up a Universal Studios. A handful of restaurants on the other side of the lake (The Hard Rock Café, NBA City) can be seen via either route.
The tricky part: CityWalk has a second-story tier of shops and restaurants shaped roughly like a horseshoe. There are three ways to get there: Take the escalators just inside the entrance to connect to the middle of the horseshoe; or, to take a full tour, turn right toward Universal Studios and make a second right at the San Francisco-style hill of shops; or, to connect at the other end, make a left en route to Islands of Adventure and just before Margaritaville.
Restaurants below are organized by area. Many have extensive menus, and the lists offer only a sample. All list average-priced entrees along with the least and most expensive one. Some prices rounded to nearest dollar. All restaurants offer a kids menu unless noted.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. A chain derived from the movie Forrest Gump, the restaurant does, indeed, focus on shrimp – but not to the exclusion of other food.
Appetizers: $8.30 (onion rings) to $14 (seafood sampler)
Salads: $9.50 (Caesar without meat) to $16 (salmon salad)
Sandwiches: $11 (burger or fish) to $12 (shrimp tacos, po’ boy, Cajun chicken)
Meals: $13.75 (fish ‘n chips) to $24 (steamed shellfish); shrimp done in 10 different ways runs $17 to $20; fried chicken ($16.75), salmon ($19), baby back ribs ($20)
Pastamore Market Caffé. Fast food Italian with a limited number of outdoor tables. It has a pick-your-own pasta: Choose the style, the sauce, and the meat. Prices start at $7 and go up to $11. (No idea why they slipped an extra “f” into café.)
Pizza: By the slice $3.25; by the pie $14.50 to $16.50
Salads: Pasta ($3), Italian ($4), Caesar ($5)
Sandwiches: Ham and cheese ($7) to Meatball sub ($8.30); tuna, sausage, turkey, or Italian sub for $8
Cinnabon. A franchise found throughout the U.S., Cinnabon’s cinnamon buns are legendary and cost $3 to $4 for one. Can be purchased in multi-packs for families in the $14 range. Restaurant also serves ice cream cones and sundaes in the $3 to $4 range.
En route to Universal Studios
NASCAR Sport’s Grille. A must-do for racing fans, the restaurant looks like any sports bar from the inside, but with a focus on only racing and decorated with NASCAR memorabilia. Dark wood, lower lights, and a full bar bridge the gap between family-friendly and adult-oriented.
Appetizers: $7.50 (onion rings) to $12 (pot roast nachos); taquitos, ravioli, or chili ($9)
Soup/salads: $5 (soup or house salad) to $13.50 (mahi mahi salad); two chicken salads for $12
Sandwiches: $9.50 (burger) to $13 (pulled pork); 14 different options
Meals: $12 (fish ‘n chips) to $25 (filet mignon); catfish ($12), pulled pork ($14), chicken ($15), pasta ($15), pot roast ($15), barbecue ribs ($23)
En route to Islands of Adventure
Emeril’s Orlando. Easily CityWalk’s most famous restaurant thanks to a chef with international credentials, Emeril’s stands out for its cuisine more than it’s décor. It’s almost unfair to list entrees, because the meat used is only a small part of the creation, the menu is too extensive to list everything, and it changes often. Consider this only a possibility. A kid menu is available with prices that start at $7 for tortellini and go up to $16.50 for a child’s filet mignon. All tables indoors.
Lunch appetizers: Barbecue shrimp ($5) to Calamari mozzarella tomatoes ($7); Louisiana shrimp mozzarella tomatoes ($9)
Lunch soups/salads: Soup of the day ($6) to mozzarella tomatoes ($9); gumbo ($7), salad ($7), spinach and goat cheese ($8)
Lunch entrees: Burgers ($12), turkey sandwich ($14), chicken Panini ($14), grouper sandwich ($14), redfish ($19). Limited menu three-course meal: $18.50
Dinner appetizers: Smoked mushrooms ($10), calamari ($10), barbecue shrimp ($12), seared tuna ($13), crab cake ($14), crawfish flatbread ($15)
Dinner soup/salads: soup du jour ($7), seafood gumbo ($8), salad ($10), spinach and goat cheese ($12), mozzarella and tomatoes ($13)
Dinner entrees: Vegetarian ($26), chicken ($31), salmon ($34), duck ($34), pork chop ($34), scallops ($36), redfish ($36), filet mignon ($44), rib eye ($48)
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. While Emeril’s may be the most famous CityWalk restaurant, Margaritaville is an icon. It’s a theme park version of laid-back, a little crazy Florida with bright colors, island music, and kitschy furnishings.
Appetizers: Fried pickles ($8), conch fritters ($10), chicken wings ($9 to $17), shrimp ($11), quesadillas ($11), crab dip ($11), volcano nachos ($16)
Soups/salads: Chowder ($5), gumbo ($5.25), chicken or taco salad ($13), crab/shrimp salad ($15), chicken cheese nut salad ($16)
Sandwiches: Burgers (include cheeseburger in paradise) $11 to $12; Cuban ($11), crab cake ($11), mushroom ($12), barbecue pork ($12), chicken ($12)
Meals: Fish taco ($19), shrimp scampi ($19), pasta ($16), jerk chicken ($16), jambalaya ($18), coconut shrimp ($18), crab cakes ($20), steak ($22), barbecue ribs ($22), steak/shrimp combo ($25), rib eye steak ($29)
Other side of the lake
Hard Rock Café Orlando. Lots of cities have Hard Rocks, but the memorabilia on the walls changes – and still impresses. The main restaurant sits on the right; a concert hall is on the left by the box office. Bars found throughout. The menu is extensive.
Appetizers: Chicken wings ($10) to combos ($19); chicken tenders ($10), grilled apple/cheese ($10), tomato bruschetta ($10), nachos ($11), wraps ($12.50)
Salads: Greek ($11), Caesar ($11), chicken ($12), Cobb ($12), anti-Cobb ($12), pear and shrimp ($16.50)
Sandwiches: Six different burger combos ($14.75); honey chicken ($12.50), barbecue chicken ($12.75), club ($12.75), veggie ($13), blackened fish ($15.25)
Meals: Mac and cheese ($16.50) to a N.Y. strip steak ($25); chicken ($17 to $19), fajitas ($16 to $19), shrimp ($20), sirloin steak ($20), barbecue ribs ($23)
NBA City. An oversized tribute to all things basketball. Offers gourmet pizza for $13.
Appetizers: Shrimp skewer, chicken tenders, or quesadillas ($9) to combo ($16); crab Rangoon ($10), wings ($10), tomato mozzarella ($10)
Salads: Garden ($10 to $15), Caesar ($12 to $15), Cobb ($12), Shanghai chicken ($12)
Sandwiches: Turkey burgers ($11) to Philly cheese steak ($13); mahi mahi ($12), chicken club ($11), burgers ($11 to $13)
Meals: Ginger chicken ($15) to N.Y. strip steak or filet mignon ($29); penne pasta ($15), salmon pasta ($16), jambalaya ($16), herb chicken ($18), pork chop ($18), grouper ($19), ribs ($22), short ribs ($22), sirloin steak ($21)
Second-floor tier (circling from Universal Studios side to Islands of Adventure side)
TCBY. About 50 yogurt ice-cream-like concoctions. Cups and cones start at $4, and most of the offerings – smoothies, yogurt drinks, sundaes, more – run $4 to $6.
BK Whopper Bar. Located in a food-court style restaurant with Moe’s and Panda Express. Features Burger King favorites with burgers running $7 to $8; salad and chicken tenders around $5, and chicken sandwich $6.50
Moe’s Southwest Grill. Located in a food court with BK and Panda Express. Fast-food entrees include tacos ($3), nachos ($5.60 to $7), quesadillas ($4.30 to $6.50), burritos ($5.70 to $7), salads ($6 to $7)
Panda Express. Located in a food court with BK and Moe’s, most guests pick two entrees ($7) or three entrees ($8.24) and a side item (veggies, chow mein, rice, or fried rice). Items can also be ordered a la carte or en masse as a full family meal for $30.
Fusion Bistro Sushi and Saki. This one is tough to find, and out of the way even once you’re on the second tier. Sushi runs from $5 (avocado or cucumber) to $12 (red dragon), with most in the $9 to $10 category. Grill selections and sushi combos run $8 to $12. Japanese beer is $4 or $5. Saki costs $8 to $15.
Red Coconut Club. More club than restaurant, this trendy, retro-style nightspot looks like Miami circa 1950. Light appetizers served, but focus is on the alcohol.
Kahuna Pizza. Slices ($3.30) or whole pies ($16.50). No tables.
Starbucks Coffee. Coffee lovers probably have the menu memorized. Tea, coffee, espressos, and more in the $2 to $5 range.
Bob Marley, A Tribute to Freedom. A faithful recreation of Jamaica with an accent on Reggae, this outdoor/indoor restaurant, bar, and entertainment venue gives guests a fairly real taste of the islands, mon.
Appetizers: Chips ($6), jerk chicken dip ($7), fondue ($9), shrimp ($10), sampler ($12)
Soup/salad: Pepper pot soup ($5), hearts of palm/lettuce ($6 to $9 with jerk chicken)
Meals: Stuffed peppers ($8.50) to lamb skewers ($15); veggie patties ($9), jerk chicken ($11),curry chicken ($11), mango wings ($11), oxtail stew ($14)
Pat O’Brians. It’s not N’awlins without jazz in the streets, but pains were taken to reproduce one of the Big Easy’s most famous bars. Pat O’Brians has three seating areas – two inside and a patio out back under the stars. Indoors, one side is a traditional bar; the other side features double baby grand pianos.
Appetizers: Chip-n-dip or cheese fries ($7) to combo platter ($13); loaded nachos ($11), crawfish nachos ($10), wings ($10), chicken tenders ($10)
Soups/salads: Gumbo ($6) to blackened chicken or shrimp salad ($10)
Sandwiches: Muffelatta ($8.50) to ½ lb. burger ($11); cheeseburger ($9), soup-n-sandwich ($10), chicken ($10), po’ boy ($10.50)
Meals: Coconut shrimp ($10.50) to blackened redfish ($17); gumbo ($11), crawfish ($13), mac-n-cheese ($13), jambalaya ($15), beef filet ($16)
Latin Express. The name says it all. Features Empanadas or rellenas for $5; tacos or nachos for $6; Cuban sandwich or ropa vieja for $7. Also offers a handful of non-Latin food, such as Caesar wrap ($7) or chicken sandwich ($7.50)
Latin Quarter. Both club and restaurant, Latin Quarter covers high-profile food and entertainment south of the U.S. border. The style is a bit cave and a bit Mayan, with rustic, upscale furnishings.
Appetizers: Tostones or fondue ($8) to a combo ($14); quesadilla, empanadas, or calamari ($9); coconut shrimp ($10) shrimp ceviche ($10);
Soups/salads: Black bean or du jour soup ($4) to salmon salad ($14); Caesar ($4 to $11)
Meals: Cuban sandwich ($10) to rib eye steak ($29); vegetarian ($13), pork ($14), chicken ($14), skewers ($15), arroz con pollo ($15), fajitas ($15 to $16), seafood platter ($24), filet mignon ($27)