Although most people think of Universal CityWalk as the go-to area for dining at the Universal Orlando Resort, those visiting the parks are bound to work up an appetite between screaming at the top of their lungs on the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit and practicing their wand form and British accents in Diagon Alley, part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Studios Florida is known for its thrilling rides and spectacular shows, but the food is not too bad, either!
Universal Studios counter service restaurants are generally fast, and most entrees cost about $10-16 per person. When you don’t want to spend valuable park time at a table service restaurant, counter service restaurants are a quick and convenient way to eat well and save time and money in the park. Here are our top 5 Universal Studios counter service restaurants, from best theming to best place to try something new.
5 Best Universal Studios Counter Service Restaurants
Best Themed Eating Experience: Mel’s Drive-In
Just like you see in the movies, Mel’s Drive-In is a classic 1950s themed diner, complete with a black-and-white checkered floor, flashing neon signs and several vintage cars parked outside. In addition to being our pick for Best Themed Eating Experience, the diner’s food is one of the best values, as most of the entrees are only $10 to $13 (meal combos with fries and a drink are a few extra dollars). Mel’s has the typical diner grub, like burgers, chicken tenders and shakes, but it also serves healthier options, such as salads and veggie burgers. Finish off your meal with a root beer float or a slice of apple pie! If you time it correctly, the outdoor seating area has prime views for the very beginning of Universal’s Superstar Parade.
Best for Family: Louie’s Italian Restaurant
Feeding a family in a theme park can get expensive fast! Luckily, at Universal Studios, there’s our Best for Family choice, Louie’s Italian Restaurant. With a 1920s vibe, this Italian eatery has lots of table space and a variety of hearty dishes that will satisfy the whole family. This restaurant offers whole pizzas for around $35 to $38, which usually ends up being much cheaper than buying individual meals for everyone. But if each person wants something different, there are also filling pastas, sub sandwiches, salads and pizza by the slice. Louie’s is located in the New York area of the park, near The Mummy and Starbucks.
Best Place for Crowd-Pleasing Dishes: Universal Studios Classic Monster Café
Picky eaters in the group, or just craving some theme park classics like chili cheese fries? The Universal Studios Classic Monster Café is our go-to Best Place to find Crowd-Pleasing Dishes like hot dogs, pizza, chicken, ribs and macaroni and cheese. The cafe also has decent vegetarian options here, like cheese fries, a chef salad, roasted potatoes and cheese pizza. The inside of the restaurant is dark, which suits the movie monster theme. With options for indoor and outdoor seating, it’s usually pretty easy to find a table. The Universal Studios Classic Monster Café is conveniently located near many of the park’s big attractions such as Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, Transformers: The Ride 3-D and The Mummy.
Best Variety: The Simpsons Fast Food Boulevard
For the families who can’t decide on tacos, pizza or burgers, there’s our Best Variety pick, the Simpson’s Area Food Court. The cafeteria-style setup includes a string of eateries: Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror, the Frying Dutchman, Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Krusty Burger, Luigi’s Pizza and Flaming Moe’s. Bumblebee Man’s Taco truck is also outside nearby, making this area a jackpot for friends and family who all want something different from a Universal Studios counter service restaurant.
Seafood favorites like fish and chips and coconut crusted shrimp can be found at the Frying Dutchman. Cletus’s Chicken Shack has chicken in almost all of its forms: fried chicken, chicken and waffles, chicken tenders, chicken wings, and of course, a chicken sandwich. Krusty Burger is the go-to place for towering burgers and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs.
Flaming Moe’s serves specialty drinks and — you guessed it — the famous Flaming Moe. Bumblebee Man’s Taco truck has a taco for every taste, from Korean Beef to Carne Asada, and it comes with a side of chips. Lisa’s Teahouse of Horror is the place to grab some lighter fare, like hummus and pita with veggies, salads, fruit and veggie sandwiches. You can also grab some healthy hydration here, like Honest Tea, Odwalla juice, orange juice and coconut water.
Everyone gets in one line to avoid congestion, but the line moves quickly. Once it’s your turn, you simply choose what you want, take it to the register and you’re ready to eat! There is a lot of seating here so finding a table shouldn’t be an issue, and then you can be back on your way. (We'd just advise against immediately getting on The Simpsons Ride, as you don’t want to experience possible motion sickness on a full stomach.)
Best Place to Try Something New: Leaky Cauldron
Roller coasters and thrill rides push you to your limits, so why not challenge your taste buds as well? Expand your gastronomical horizons at the Best Place to Try Something New in Universal Studios, the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. This Wizarding World restaurant serves up classic English dishes such as Bangers and Mash, Toad in the Hole and Cottage Pie. The Leaky Cauldron has some of the best food in the park and comes with an experience unlike anything else. Step into the world of Harry Potter and sample some of the favorites of Hogwarts students and London muggles alike.
It’s so hard to choose one, so I always end up with the Mini Pie Combination: a mini Fisherman’s pie and a mini Cottage pie served with fresh fruit. If you’re really hungry, try the Banger Pub Sandwich, a huge hoagie-style bun stuffed with traditional English sausage and served with wedge fries.
For dessert, the Sticky Toffee Pudding is a crowd favorite, or head around the corner to Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour for unique ice cream flavors like Butterbeer, clotted cream, chocolate chili or Earl Grey and lavender.
Whether you have a strong craving for a burger or are looking to expand your food horizons with exotic new flavors, these Universal Studios counter service gems are there to satisfy your family’s needs.
Have a favorite Universal Studios counter service restaurant we haven't listed? Share with us in the comments below. You'll find more information about planning your visit to Universal Orlando inside our Orlando Planning Guide.