Posts Tagged ‘dining’

Observations from the Universal Orlando Resort for December 22, 2013 (Antojitos, Blues Brothers Christmas, NBA City)

by on December 24, 2013

ANTOJITOS

Antojitos concept art

This week Universal NOW‘s Brandon Glover and I went to the Universal Orlando Resort to experience Grinchmas and see the latest construction work at CityWalk and Universal Studios Florida. We also wanted to see the Blues Brothers Holiday Show. We had heard a lot of great things about this show and wanted to see if it lived up to the hype. Spoiler Alert: it does, but more on that later. Lastly, we were determined to finally go into NBA City and check out the legendary Towering Cheesecake dessert.

Our first stop was the upcoming Mexican restaurant Antojitos.  Earlier this month, Morgan Crutchfield was at the Universal press event that detailed the upcoming dining venues including Antojitos. Her writeup of the event details all the upcoming restaurants in the massive CityWalk renovation, including concept art for each.

IMG_1027

Antojitos, the former home of Latin Quarter

The above picture was taken on a Friday and the one below was taken on Sunday. Universal is using a lot of color on the outside of this restaurant. I personally don’t like it. The overuse of color is perfect in Seuss Landing, but – to me – just seems out of place in CityWalk.  I think the front of this restaurant looks gorgeous and all the wacky colors just take away from it. Maybe I’m alone on the island on that one though. I am looking forward to trying the restaurant out as I’m a huge fan of freshly made guacamole and quality Mexican food.

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Video: Red Oven Pizza Bakery Now Open in Universal Orlando CityWalk

by on November 17, 2013

Red Oven Pizza Bakery Universal Orlando CityWalk Opening Day Video

Opening day at Red Oven Pizza Bakery

Stormy Central Florida skies couldn’t keep Orlando from welcoming a little piece of Italy to town today (Saturday, November 16, 2013), as the new Red Oven Pizza Bakery opened at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. The new quick-casual al fresco restaurant replaced Pastamore’s counter-service market, and offers a new moderately priced alternative for upscale pizza and salads at Universal Orlando.

This afternoon we were among the establishment’s first day of paying customers, and returned with the following footage to give you a first look. We’ll return to Red Oven Pizza Bakery soon for a full review, but our first impressions were very positive. All the ingredients — which include house-sliced prosciutto and hand-pulled mozzarella — tasted fresh, and the pizza crust had the perfect amount of chew and char.

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Universal Dining: Backwater Bar at Islands of Adventure

by on November 16, 2013

Backwaterbar

Backwater Bar

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.

Backwater2

The actual Backwater Bar

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…

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Ring in the New Year at Walt Disney World With Delicious Dining

by on November 6, 2013

©Disney

©Disney

Are you thinking about New Year’s Eve yet? Well, I bet now you are!

If you will be in Walt Disney World during the New Year festivities this year, Disney has recently released that a few restaurants will help guests celebrate 2014 with style. Guests can choose from over a dozen different restaurants, each one offering special dining experiences with featuring showcase menus.

Restaurants include:

Magic Kingdom:

  • The Tomorrowland Terrace will feature a New Year’s Eve fireworks dinner and dessert party

Epcot:

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Universal Dining: Mama Della’s at Loews Portofino Bay (Photo Review)

by on November 4, 2013

Mama Della's photo review

The chickens welcome you to Mama Della’s!

With Bice, The Palm, and two Emeril’s — not to mention Pat O’s, Jimmy B’s, and Mr. Gump’s — the Universal Orlando Resort packs in more name-brand dining options per square foot than anywhere else in Orlando, including the sprawling Downtown Disney. With so many restaurants within steps to each other, a few are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Last month I returned to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel for a photo dining review of Mama Della’s Ristorante, one of my favorite underrated eateries inside Universal’s hotels.

Mama Della’s is located on the lowest level of Portofino Bay Hotel’s waterfront plaza, between Sal’s Market Deli and Trattorio del Porto. You can self-park at the hotel, and the restaurant will validate; or park in Universal’s main garage and take a scenic water taxi from CityWalk.

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Eating at Universal on Just $20 a Day: Snacking Edition

by on October 12, 2013

IMG_6051

A Duff beer, Flaming Moe, and a Duff Lite. I need to crunch these numbers again…

Recently the TouringPlans blog has posted an interesting series of articles explaining how you, Dear Reader, can survive on eating inside the theme park world for just $20 a day. Click on these links to see the plans for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom. It’s only natural that this financial exercise be extended to the Universal family of parks, and who better to tackle this subject than a man who has eaten a three pound slice of cake at Universal, twice?

At first, this seemed like a no-brainer. Well, duh. A Chicken & Waffle sandwich ($10.99) from Cletus’ Chicken Shack and a Flaming Moe ($7.99) from Moe’s Tavern. My favorite theme park food item and a show, but after tax the total came out to $20.11. I quickly realized that I would have to get my thinking cap on for this one (plus I was informed from the Grand Poobah himself, Len Testa, that most guests would want more than that during an entire day at the park. I know what you’re thinking: Americans.)

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Universal Dining: Jake’s American Bar at Loews Royal Pacific Resort (Photo Review)

by on October 12, 2013

In early November I’ll be going to my first ever character breakfast on Universal property, and it will be at Jake’s American Bar at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort. After I made my reservation (through OpenTable), I realized I had never eaten at Jake’s. I consider the Royal Pacific my second home in Orlando but spend a lot of my eating time either poolside at the Bula Bar & Grille or in the lobby area at the Orchid Court Lounge. So on my most recent visit to the Universal Orlando Resort, I decided to hit Jake’s twice in one day to check it out.

Jake’s is located on the ground floor of the Royal Pacific and is right across from the Islands Dining Room.

Jakes_Front

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Disneyland Resort Begins Accepting Online Dining Reservations Starting October 3

by on September 25, 2013

Walt Disney World visitors have grown accustomed to booking their dining reservations online using an automated system, but Disneyland diners have been stuck using old-fashioned phone or email options. Yesterday it was announced that, as of October 3, 2013, all Disneyland Resort dining arrangements can be made through this new website.

This upgrade means that the dine@disneyland.com email reservation system will be discontinued, though phone bookings will still be accepted via 714-781-DINE. In addition, Disneyland will now begin requiring a credit card at the time of reservation; a $10 per person penalty will be charged if you miss your reservation without canceling or rescheduling (which can also be done online) a day in advance. This policy applies to all table service restaurants on property, both Disney-operated and franchises.

 

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Carthay Circle World of Color Dining Package Changes (and Annual Passholder Offer)

by on August 11, 2013

Disney California Adventure’s World of Color nighttime spectacular is one of the most popular productions at the Disneyland Resort, and having a meal a the park’s upscale Carthay Circle Restaurant has been the best way to secure “Center Stage” VIP viewing area tickets to the show. Recently, Disney has made a major change to the way World of Color Fastpasses are distributed to Carthay Circle diners.

Previously, anyone eating at Carthay Circle for lunch or dinner would receive a WoC ticket at no extra charge, as long each person ordered an entree along with an appetizer or dessert. Recently, a “fixed price” 3-course menu was introduced for WoC diners, and the original 2-course option has now been eliminated.

Currently, in order to receive WoC passes, Carthay Circle customers must order from a limited 3-course lunch menu ($39 adults, $22 children) or dinner menu ($59 adults, $24 children). You can see the available meal options by following the above links; notable, the popular duck wings and cheese biscuits are not offered on the WoC menus.

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Cars Land Food: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (Part 3)

by on August 16, 2012

All photos by Seth Kubersky

Welcome to the final chapter of our savory series examining the best, worst, and strangest new foods found at Disney California Adventure’s Cars Land. So far in this trilogy, we’ve enjoyed the citrus turkey salad at Flo’s V8 Cafe, and endured the indelibly inedible eggs served by the Cozy Cone Motel.

To complete the circle, today we’ll take a taste of two of the oddest, must unusual eating options in DCA’s new expansion area. These “Eli Wallach” items appear unappetizing, or even absurd, at first glance. But dig beneath the aesthetically challenged surface, may you find something unexpectedly interesting on the inside.

…and The Ugly

I originally hail from the Northeast, where we pride ourselves on our overpaid sports franchises, sprawling landfills, and convenience stores stocked with bizarre flavors of snack food. If you’ve ever road tripped around Southern Jersey or Philadelphia, you may have discovered the wonders of Wawa convenience stores, where you will find an unrivaled variety of surreal potato chips styles; not merely sour cream or BBQ, but tomato ketchup, steak & onion, and hot dog. For me, the pinnacle (or nadir) of potato chip perversity has always been “dill pickle” flavor, which is just as powerfully pungent and olfactoraly off-putting as it sounds.

Naturally, when I heard that Disney was attempting their own Dill-icious snack in Cars Land, I had to try it for myself. Each day the Cozy Cone counter service complex prepares 2 different flavors of popcorn, ranging from the everyday (salt & vinegar) to the eyebrow-raising (cheese & bacon). When I spotted the “dill pickle” sign outside of Cone #5 during my second afternoon inside the area, I knew I had to “take one for the team” and give it a taste.

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