Universal Studios – Must Try Foods

Allergen-free eating on the road, family, Florida, food, geek, Travel
Ivy showing off her cupcake at Cinderella’s Royal table

In an Instaworthy land of food treats, it’s easy to get caught up on the trends and seek out the photo, not the FOOD. I am a terrible food-grammer (see my page for evidence) as I get so caught up in enjoying a meal or cupcake or snack that I forget the photo. Instead of showing off my Butterbeer, I guzzle it. Instead of treasuring my cupcake, I inhale it….you get the picture.

However, while Disney may win with new colors, bows, and ears on everything. Universal has its fair share of options for foodies seeking delicious and equally delightful treats.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

My absolute favorite in “Harry Potter World” is the Butterbeer. I love it, and the versions of cold, iced, or hot through the year are a must try. While Gluten-Free, the treat is not dairy free, but that does not stop me from having one or two!

I also happen to think the sweets and other goodies, all Potter themed, in this part of the park are worth a try! Don’t miss the Bertie Botts, Pumpkin Juice, and other gems that are sprinkled throughout. So far, nothing has disappointed. Even better, if you have food allergies, the staff at every location will work hard to make sure you have plenty of deliciousness to eat and enjoy. Read more here. Our meal at the Hogs Head was one of the best I have had in years (I maybe ate my weight in potatoes)!

Fast Food

Universal is full of dining options for all preferences. If you are trying to maximize fun time, and minimize other “wasted” time then opting for more “fast casual” food places are sure to please. We tried Mel’s Diner for burgers, shakes, and soda on our last trip and we were thoroughly delighted. Not only were the burgers (vegan Beyond Burgers too), fries, and drinks DELICIOUS, the restaurant was well staffed, quick, and made for an enjoyable time. This was true for our group of people aged 12 to 82!

If Mel’s isn’t your style, the park offers Krusty Burger for fans of the Simpsons and other locations with pub-style and American fare! The best part, more and more people are serving allergy-friendly and vegan options for those with different dietary needs!

City Walk

If you are sick of the parks, or simply wanting to try something different, head to City Walk and try some more refined dining and drinks. The prices and options are similar to that of a downtown in a bigger city *think Denver or London* but the quality is a step above!

We dined at The Cowfish (I don’t get the name either), which offered exciting Asian fusion. This was perfect for us that enjoy sushi, and those that are more land-based eaters. I would give the food a 3.5 out of 5 and atmosphere a 4/5. This is a good option for those wanting a healthier dining option and something beyond regular theme park Americana Food.

My absolute favorite (in the park and not) for entertainment, food, and atmosphere is Toothsome. While almost imposing on the Universal skyline, Toothsome is a steampunked themed “Chocolate Restaurant” with everything you imagine that would include. The ambiance is full of vintage-style prints. The servers and other employees are all decked out in Steampunk garb and ALL of them are a 100% delight. Our server alone set the bar for servers to an entirely new level! Not only did he have the ENTIRE (very large) menu memorized, but he knew allergens in each dish and how to either modify the dish or direct someone elsewhere. He was so great we even had to take a picture with him!

Perhaps the biggest draw for the restaurant, and definitely something our group loved, were the giant and delicious sweets. Toothsome serves up crazy shakes with desserts topping them (brownies, pie, cookies) AND they have a chocolate shop inside. My stepdaughter opted for a crazy brownie shake, and I opted for candies to bring home to my work team. All around they were considered a roaring success.

Most importantly, Toothsome has a charm to it through all of these features combined. My husband had the “best Rubin of his life” but I just had one of the best dining experiences of my life. While my salad was above and beyond, my amazement was with our server (who we tipped 30%), and his skills to make our night magical. All of us left with giant grins, massive gratitude, and overwhelming joy. Which, ultimately, is what we all seek on vacation!

My advise – jump on that Toothsome train and love it!

Happy Travels & Eats!

Gluten Free Gem of Dublin

Allergen-free eating on the road, Ireland, Travel

note: this bakery closed in 2017

A little over a year ago I reported that in Dublin, Ireland a small group of celiacs would be opening a bakery to serve the Dublin community with gluten free, homemade goods. It was my dream from hearing about them on to visit! And I did!

2015-02-02 08.10.11

In February I took some extra time before going back stateside to get some gluten free treats from Antoinette’s Bakery in Dublin. Oh boy were they amazing! Which has left me feeling there is a void in my life because Antoinette’s is nowhere near Colorado.

Some may have VooDoo Donuts in Portland and Denver, well I have Antoinette’s in Dublin, a treat that is only attainable when I’m passing through. A place that is iconic, delicious, welcoming, full of Irish charm and friendliness and  a total gem of a place for celiacs and non.

2015-02-02 08.10.04

I went not only one afternoon, but the next morning as well for their cinnamon donuts, brownies and other miscellaneous goodies. Not only was the food good, but their array of coffees and lattes were warming in the rainy Dublin February, and the atmosphere of the bakery to die for. Based on a Maria Antoinette, meets punk “Let them eat cake” mash that I wish my own kitchen could compare to.

So if you are in Dublin, or Ireland, or needing an excuse to go there, this is it. You Won’t be disappointed, and make sure to pick up a souvenir or two to remind you to plan a next time.