Universal Food Finds: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

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For a while now I’ve hinted at my minor obsession with Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. Long before the popular restaurant chain had a location in Orlando, I had been scouting out Forrest Gump-themed eateries across the country (and later, across the world), visiting eight other locations to experience was is honestly one of my favorite places to eat on the planet. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a foodie, especially when it comes to seafood, but I’m also a huge fan of the film Forrest Gump, so the marriage of my two passions has always hit a soft spot for me.

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The chain was originally launched in 1995 by Viacom in an effort to capitalize on the success of the famous Tom Hanks film. Carrying on the fictional story of shrimp company founded by Forrest Gump in honor of his fallen comrade Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, the restaurant is filled with actual memorabilia from the film and unique décor inspired by it, including some infectious saying signs (I’ve gone on to buy at least four over the years). License plate signs saying “Run Forrest Run” and “Stop Forrest Stop” serve as a means to get the attention of the staff in case you need anything on a moment’s notice. You can even purchase those signs for your own use, as I have (see the picture below for an example of how I turned the signs into basic décor for my work desk) in the attached gift shop! And don’t forget to study the film—no visit to Bubba Gump’s is complete without a round of trivia!

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Visiting once again to the CityWalk location, this time for my father’s birthday (I’m not the only one in the family that loves Bubba Gump), we were pleased to find that the menu had received some new additions such as the Frizzled Onion Strings, replacing the classic tower of battered onion rings (something I’ve ordered in locations in California, Florida, and even Japan). And while they aren’t as tasty as their predecessor, the onion strings, served with ranch and barbecue dipping sauces are still delectable to the point of leaving no string in the bowl. A solid appetizer to start with for our meal.

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Sampling around the table, we ordered the “I’m Stuffed” Shrimp, described as a dish featuring large shrimp with crab stuffing, baked in garlic butter and topped with Monterey jack cheese, served with jasmine rice. With a count of seven largely stuffed prawns smothered in a juicy (still sizzling) cheese blend, this entrée certainly pleased! The portion size is more than reasonable, though there are better options available if you are very hungry.

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The Shrimper’s Heaven has been a staple on the Bubba Gump menu for quite some time, with its combo of breaded coconut shrimp, chilled peel-and-eat shrimp, fried shrimp and tempura fried shrimp, all served with a side of fries—this one is definitely for the hungry eaters! The all three of the fried options on the platter of shrimp cones are delicious and light in oil, but satisfyingly filling. The clear winner though is the peel-and-eat shrimp, available also as its own appetizer or as a part of the Run Across America Sampler appetizer platter.

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Speaking of the Run Across America sampler, I can happily say that this is THE go-to dish for my professed go-to restaurant. I’m normally a hungry eater when I visit Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and this appetizer-as-an-entrée never disappoints! Available for $14.99, this appetizer costs less than most of the larger entrees and manages to come served with more food than the more expensive options! For a great sampling of all that Bubba Gump’s has to offer, this plate comes with Bubba’s Far Out Dip and Chips, the Chilly shrimp (the peel-and-eat shrimp mentioned earlier), spicy chicken strips (some of the best I’ve ever had), the restaurant’s signature hush pups (filled with pieces of shrimp) and Mama Blue’s Fried Shrimp, the same tasty fried shrimp found in the Shrimper’s Heaven entrée. So to recap, half of the Shrimper’s Heaven, plus the same sized serving as the stand-alone appetizer version of Bubba’s Far Out Dip, a healthy portion of 3-5 hush pups, fried shrimp and buffalo chicken strips, all in one plate! This is arguably THE best deal in the restaurant, and if you’re a seafood lover like I am, one of the best deals you’ll find in any comparable restaurant of its kind. Based on my raving, I think you can guess that I love every aspect of the meal, with no-one aspect of the plate besting the other—a tough statement to make because everything tastes so fantastic, it is nearly impossible to judge one component against another.

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I cannot speak higher praise for Bubba Gump Shrimp Co… I’m admittedly very much biased, as I’ve been a fan of this chain for years. I’ve tried countless menu items at the nine locations I’ve dined at around the world, and I’ve never been less than satisfied. With an extremely reasonable cost, some hidden gems on the menu like the Run Across America Sampler, a great family-friendly atmosphere and a good variety of choices to mix things up for the repeat visit, I continue to willingly choose Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. over pricey seafood restaurants with smaller portions and equal or lesser quality. I continue to go out of my way for this restaurant because it appeals to me in every way possible—for food, for atmosphere, for quality service and for a repeatability that hasn’t worn off over all of these years!

In the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.”

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Posted on May 20, 2013

7 Responses to “Universal Food Finds: Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.”

  • by Rob Crawford on May 20, 2013, at 10:12 am EDT

    In central Florida, I’m heading to Titusville for Dixie Crossroads. ISTR it was founded by actual fishermen, rather than founded in the name of a fictional one.

  • Counterpoint: I’m a huge seafood fan and have been eating at CityWalk’s Bubba Gump since before it opened to the public, and I have never had a meal there that rose above mediocre. Undersized shrimp, overcooked fish, and a general lack of authentic southern seasoning has been my repeated experience; your mileage may vary. I’ve consistently had better seafood at Lombards inside USF (which still isn’t what it used to be) than at Bubba Gumps, and Tchoup Chop blows them both away. If you really want seafood in central florida, take the drive to JB’s Fish camp in new Smyrna beach.

  • I’m with you on this Adam. Our next trip is 198 days away (but whose counting) and while we have to make our Disney reservations soon, for the 2 nights we’re staying at Universal, we plan on going to Bubbas both nights – just so I can have Mama’s fried chicken and mash one night and something shrimp the night after. The chowder is also very very good.

  • We were planning to go there on our 1 day at Universal Orlando in June. Do you need reservations way in advance? (Like, ahem, all DisneyWorld restaurants!)

  • My daughter and I just flew in to LA from Canada for a 5 day visit to Disneyland. We walked passed bubba gump on the way to the cheesecake factory for lunch, but are planning to visit there for dinner tonight. Living on the prairies, we are too far to get real fresh seafood. You didn’t mention about items for kids, but as everything is fried, I’m sure I won’t get any objections with what they have to offer. We will let you know how it went. Thanks for the recommendation.

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