Universal is unlikely to win kudos from die-hard gourmets. Still, it seems to do a pretty good job of holding prices down while serving food most people will enjoy. And if you want a step up from the standard carnival fare, Finnegan’s and Lombard’s Seafood Grille, the two full-service restaurants in the park, have at least a dish or two that’s better than average. Try the Catch of the Day at Lombard’s or one of the Irish specialties at Finnegan’s, for example, and you will feel well fed indeed.
For most families, however, the fare will be of the standard fast-food variety — most of it pretty good and not too outrageously priced. The prices of modest choices in the full-service restaurants are roughly equivalent to the prices at the fast food joints. So for about the same amount or just a few dollars more, you can enjoy the luxury of table service, constant refills of your iced tea, and best of all, air conditioning. It’s an option worth considering.
In addition to the standard eateries, which are described in detail later, there are innumerable street-side kiosks, offering a wide variety of drinks and snacks, that appear and disappear as the crowds and weather dictate.
Restaurants and eateries are classified by meals served and amount you should expect to spend per person:
$ = Inexpensive Casual Dining(under $15)*
$$ = Moderate ($16 to $25)*
$$$ = Expensive Character Dining($26 to $45)*
$$$$ = Very Expensive Fine Dining(Over $45)*
Full Service Restaurants:
Finnegan's Bar and Grill $$-$$$
Finnegan’s bar and grill has two parts and two personalities. The first is a full-fledged Irish pub complete with live entertainment and walls crowded with beer and liquor ads and offbeat memorabilia. Cozy up to the antique bar and order a yard of ale if that’s your pleasure, or choose from a classy selection of domestic and imported beers. Guinness stout, Harp lager, and Bass ale are available on draught. Hard cider and wine are also available. Happy hour specials (typically $3.50 domestic beer and well liquor, $4.50 imports) are available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
The other half of Finnegan’s is a full-service restaurant hidden behind the false facades of the New York lot. The decor here is pared down and perfunctory, reflecting the room’s other identity as a movie set. Fortunately, the food is anything but pared down or perfunctory. The theme is Irish and British Isles, with generously sized entrees to match.
Serves traditional Irish-American cuisine, complete with live entertainment. Fish 'n Chips, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Guinness Beef Stew, Sandwiches, Salads.
**(Vegetarian foods, Healthy Choice)**
Located on Delancey St. (near Mummy's Revenge).
Lombard's Seafood Grille $$-$$$
Lombard’s is a full-service restaurant boasting the most elegant decor at Universal — and the best food. The main dining room exudes an industrial-Victorian aura, with brick walls, filigreed iron arches and tapestry-covered dining chairs. The room is dominated by a huge, square, centrally located saltwater fish tank like something Captain Nemo might have imagined. Windows on three sides look out over the lagoon. All in all, the atmosphere is charming.
Located at Lombard's Landing, along the Embarcadero (on the waterfront, across from DISASTER).
Outstanding fresh fish, Pasta and Sandwiches.
**(Vegetarian foods, Healthy Choice)**
Richter's Burger Co. $-$$
Richter's, set in "Earthquake Country" is quite a location. Set as a wharehouse-like structure which seems to have been damaged by "The Big One" itself. Just looking around at the damaged statues and other items is worth a few extra minutes. Take note of the ominous crack that runs in the floor. If your timing is right, you may even feel a slight tremor from time to time. Towards the back of Richter's are tables with a great view of the Lagoon and from the balcony, a birds-eye view of New York.
Richter's serves up burgers, hot dogs, grilled chicken sandwiches, shakes, salad and desserts. For your burger or sandwich, there's a fixin's bar so you can customize your meal.
Mel's Drive-In $-$$
Rock around the clock at this '50s drive-in featuring golden oldies on the jukebox and delicious Burgers and Fries, Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Fingers, Onion Rings, Root Beer Floats and Frosty Milk Shakes.
Monsters Cafe $$
Those glamorous ghouls of our collective black-and white subconscious take center stage in an eatery filled with souvenirs from zany sci-fi movies like Abbott and Costello Go To Mars and chillers like Frankenstein, The Mummy, and Dracula. The Creature from the Black Lagoon even floats in a big tank in the “Swamp Dining” room. Amazingly enough, they have resisted the seemingly irresistible temptation to use terms like Monster Meals, FrankenFries, and Mummy’s Pasta on the menu.
Salads, some quite fancy, are popular, as are the pasta dishes. Wood-fired pizzas come in cheese and pepperoni, and chicken dishes come with roasted potatoes, onions, and fresh corn. Draft beer is available in addition to the usual assortment of soft drinks and desserts.
International Food and Film Festival $-$$
The International Film & Food Festival is an open cafeteria-style. It does not offer much in great ambiance, but video monitors are scattered about the seating area and play clips from famous movies. The gimmick here is that many of them are dubbed to show how they play overseas. You'll constantly be watching the monitors and follow along with the foreign dialogue, as you recall the English version from your memory.
The food is divided into sections where you can choose between American, Asian and Italian dishes like cheeseburgers and chicken, Stir Fry, Pasta and Pizza. There is also a special Ice Cream Counter available.
Cafe La Bamba $ - $$
Cafe La Bamba serves up ample portions of rotisserie chicken and barbecued ribs at moderate prices. On top of that, the ambiance is a cut above your average fast-food restaurant. Evoking a Spanish mission courtyard with adobe walls and tiled floors, it offers some charming corners just a few steps away from the cafeteria lines, plus a delightful outdoor seating area that looks across to Mel’s and the lagoon.
Amity Fried Chicken $
Fried Chicken, snacks
Beverly Hills Boulangerie $
Gourmet sandwiches, Soup, Salads, Pastries and Cappuccino
KidZone Pizza Company $
Pizza, Chicken Fingers & Snacks
Midway Grill $
Midway Grill offers sausage hoagies, Philly cheesesteak and ice cold beer. This is a good place to get some lunch before you play the carnival games, or take a ride on Jaws.
San Francisco Pastry Company $
This small pastry and coffee shop is located right across from the entrance to Lombard's. Fine pastry, coffees and cappuccinos are menu highlights. Other tid bits include fruit salads, sandwiches, and other light drinks.
Starbuck's Cafe $
There's one on every corner in Manhattan, so naturally you'll find a Starbucks on the New York street sets of Universal Studios. Enjoy Starbucks’ famous Brewed Coffees, Espresso, Lattes, Cappuccinos and Frappucinos, plus fresh Pastries.
Ben and Jerry's $
Vermont's favorite ice cream makers bring their best to Universal Studios. This is no fake movie set… this ice cream parlor features Ben & Jerry’s unmistakable Ice Cream in Waffle Cones, Sundaes and Shakes, plus delicious Smoothies.
Schwab's Pharmacy $
Sandwiches, Ice Cream
Boardwalk Snacks $
Snacks and such
Dippin Dots Ice Cream $
The unique ice cream snack
*Prices are subject to change.