During my most recent visit to Islands of Adventure a friend and I decided to eat lunch at the Backwater Bar, which is part of Confisco Grille. I’ve eaten there a few times before and wanted to give it another try, as it’s what I consider to be the best bang for your buck restaurant in IOA. The best part about eating in the Backwater Bar is that you don’t have to wait for a table; you can just walk up to the bar and order food along with a wide array of drinks. Guests can eat at the bar or sit at one of the few tables inside the bar space. There is also a large patio outside with covered tables where guests can enjoy their drinks on days with favorable weather. You may notice the large signage out front that includes what appears to be an ad for the Seagram company. Many guests don’t realize that Seagram owned Universal Studios in the late 1990s, when IOA was built.
If you’re looking for a fine adult beverage in IOA, look no further. Backwater has a few draft beers as well as a variety of bottled beers and a full selection of top shelf liquors. There are daily specials on margaritas and other mixed drinks. Whenever I see Shock Top on draft, I have to have it. It has a smooth citrusy flavor and comes with a slice of orange; and because it comes with an orange, that means its good for you, right? Pressing on…
This time around we didn’t order any appetizers, but I would highly recommend the Trader Wings with the Peach Chipotle BBQ flavoring. The sweet and smoky flavoring is delicious and makes for a great snack or can even be an entrée. Celery and a chunky bleu cheese dipping sauce are included as well.
For an entrée, I ordered the Penne Puttanesca and my friend ordered the boldly named An Adventure in Fajitas (this is Islands of Adventure after all). The penne features Italian sausage, kalamata olives, fried pepperocini and roasted garlic tossed in a vodka tomato cream sauce. For those of you that require gluten free or vegan meals, this dish can be prepared for you in that manner (as well as others on the menu.) Overall I enjoyed the penne, as the sausage was mild and the vodka tomato cream sauce added great flavor to the pasta. If I were going to order it again I would leave out the fried pepperocini, as it was a little too spicy and a tad bit greasy. It should be noted I’m not a fan of fried foods to begin with, and this really didn’t do anything to accentuate the dish in my opinion. At $11.99 this is a steal for being inside a theme park. The watery-sauced pasta they serve over in Toon Lagoon is priced around $9 and isn’t very filling or flavorful.
I also tasted the fajitas and they did not disappoint. The chicken was cooked to perfection with the accompanying onions and peppers. The tortillas were served in a separate container, and the dish also included cheese, lettuce, salsa, guacamole and sour cream. We ordered a side of pico de gallo as a garnish instead of guacamole. Having eaten fajitas in other restaurants off property, I find these to be of better quality than the fajitas I’ve eaten at Applebees and Chilis. For the great theme park price of $13.99 for chicken, $14.99 for beef or a combo of the two for $16.99, you can’t go wrong taking the grand adventure that is fajitas.
A great combination of value and quality, Confisco Grille never disappoints in a park with few favorable food options. Outside of Three Broomsticks and Mythos (which I’ve yet to experience), this is a must visit restaurant during a trip to Islands of Adventure. Trust me on this one, you don’t want to end up in Captain America Diner or Comic Strip Café! Thanks for reading and remember time travelers, the future is what you make it! – Brandon Glover
- Backwater Bar has the only television in IOA, and on Sundays it’s always tuned into the NFL!
- They have a Happy Hour with two-for-one draft specials, a rarity in the theme park world.
- Several of the items on the menu can be prepared Vegan or Gluten Free.
- Because Backwater Bar is connected to Confisco Grille, take a minute to walk around the restaurant and check out the theming. Confisco includes items from every single island in the park, so you’ll see items related to Marvel heroes to the Cat in the Hat, to even a famous wizard’s wand…