I gave up eating meat on a dare. Well, it started off that way at least. But when my one-year-long meatless venture was over, I asked myself: do I miss it that much? Turns out… yeah, I kinda did. But figured that since I had made it that far, I could actually live without it. And here we are, nearly five years later.
Being a vegetarian/vegan wannabe comes with its challenges, especially since I’m not a great cook. So, I’m always looking for new places with good vegan and vegetarian options to eat in town. Sounds like a tough endeavor, huh? Not at all! At Universal Orlando Resort, you not only get plenty of veggie and vegan dishes, you get delicious veggie and vegan dishes.
Whether you’re testing the waters of the vegetarian and vegan lifestyle, have already gone 100% vegan or just feel like trying different and surprising flavors, join me in this plant-based, mouth-watering, food-tasting around the theme parks, Universal CityWalk and hotels at Universal Orlando Resort.
Central Park Crêpes
I’ll get right to it and start off with one of my favorite venues at Universal Studios Florida. This quick-service crepe cart located right by Central Park offers made-to-order unbelievably delicious crepes. It’s one of those spots I repeatedly recommend to friends (vegan or not) because there’s something for everyone.
Go Vegetarian with… Cookies and Cream
I’m an Oreo kinda gal, and this one has plenty of it in both cookie and mascarpone form. Put that together with whipped cream, chocolate ganache and powdered sugar and you’ve got… well, dessert heaven.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Berry
This brand new item on the menu had me drop everything just to go try it. It’s fresh blueberries, coconut whip topping, vegan cream cheese, toasted almonds and raspberry sauce, all wrapped up with a thin — yet crispy-around-the-edges — French pastry delight.
This should be a rule: as soon as you walk through the arches, keep right and head straight to TODAY Cafe. Here, everything is made fresh everyday and has plenty of options for anyone looking for plant-based options. These are my favorites:
Go Vegetarian with… Mushroom & Leek Quiche
I love their Swiss cheese quiche with roasted shiitake and leek. Ask them to warm it up just a bit: enough to melt the cheese and still keep that crispy pastry texture. Oh, and I usually get the platter option, which comes with fresh fruit.
Go Vegan with… I Vegan Sandwich
From the moment you order it, you know you’ve got a well-crafted veggie sandwich in your hands: it’s got roasted portobello mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, carrots and sun-dried tomatoes. So far, so great. But it gets better: as soon as you take a bite, you get an explosion of flavors from the jalapeño vegan cheese and the toasted cranberry artisan bread. It has a in its name for a good reason.
Go Vegetarian with… Guinness Warm 3 Cheese Dip
Soft pretzels are always a great idea. And here you get them fresh out of the oven with a Guiness cheese dip.
PRO TIP: It’s not on the menu, but you can order a scoop of the vegan strawberry sorbet for a deliciously refreshing dessert to top off your meal.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Shepherd Pie
There’s no denying that vegan and vegetarian dishes have come a looong way. Today you can find not only plant-based burgers and pasta… you can also find a flaky, crispy and flavorful
beef vegan Shepherd Pie. Finnegan’s version of this classic dish is plant-based seasoned meat, mushrooms, peas and carrots, topped with vegan mashed red bliss potatoes.
Go for the theme, stay for the food. Really.
Go Vegetarian with… Ploughman’s
A platter with cheese, crusty bread, apple green salad, roasted tomatoes, cornichon pickles, apple beet salad, Branston pickle and scotch eggs. Make it vegan by taking out the cheese and eggs — still delicious.
Go Vegan with… Shepherd’s Pasty Pie
It’s your traditional shepherd’s pie, but with a plant-based twist. The pie, made with meatless beef crumbles and vegetable stew, is served with creamy stone ground mustard dipping sauce, apple beet salad, and wedge fries.
MORE FROM THE MENU: With the Irish Stew, you’ll get a vegan beef and potato stew with a vegan crusty bread and cucumber, radish and tomato side salad.
Go Vegan with… Spaghetti Bolognese
After being in the theme park all day, maybe you just want to eat something that tastes like home. And this is it. Plus, the plant-based sausage crumbles have a kick to it which takes your ordinary pasta to a whole new level of flavor.
Yes, I’ll take my lunch with a view of the lagoon, please! Whatever option you select from their yummy menu, make sure you ask for a table outside.
Go Vegan with… Golden Gate Noodle Bowl
Like the rest of the world, I too got into the noodles trend. I mean, who can blame me? It is delicious. And the vegan version with tofu at Lombard’s is a must-try: Udon noodles, umami laced tomato broth, baby bok choy, enoki mushrooms and thai basil.
MORE FROM THE MENU: The Garlic Roasted Edamame is a great, garlicky, al dente vegan appetizer for the whole table.
I used to love watching the a cappella singers perform here in the late 90’s while grabbing a burger with the fam. Here I am, 25 years later, still creating memories by the jukebox and indulging in Mel’s delicious dishes — they’re just plant-based now.
Go Vegan with… Any plant-based platter
At Mel’s, you can get the Beyond Burger Platter or (and) the Chick’n & Avocado Sandwich Platter — they’re both yummy and come with a side of pretty great fries.
Go Vegan with… Plant-based Beyond Burger Platter
Burgers are definitely what I miss the most about having given up red meat, so plant-based burgers have been a solid alternative ever since. Oh, and because vegan cheese doesn’t melt as easily as regular cheese, ask them to grill it for a bit longer so it pulls.
I usually take my snack breaks at this spot. It’s got a nice view of the lagoon and the food items here never disappoint.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Elderberry Croissant
I’m always down for croissants with a nice filling. And this flaky pastry has just the right amount of elderberry jelly — it’s all about balance, right? If you’re somehow still not convinced, that special hint of fennel should do the trick.
MORE FROM THE MENU: The vegetarian Caprese sandwich is a great pick — especially because it’s served on warm ciabatta — and who doesn’t love warm ciabatta?
London Taxi Hut
Go Vegetarian with… Jacket Potato
Right outside Diagon Alley, on the streets of London, you can find a charming green-painted shed where you can get Universal’s famous jacket potato. There are two great vegetarian options, the Beans & Cheese and Broccoli & Cheese. Grab yours and go sit by the London Waterfront, near the Knight Bus.
Fun Fact: The green shed is inspired by real huts that were built around London in the late 1800’s called cabmen’s shelters, a place where hackney carriage drivers could get a hot meal or a cup of tea.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Double Chocolate Chunk Brownie
Didn’t think you’d find such a decadent dessert here, did you? Well, here it is: an ooey, gooey chocolatey treat that you won’t wanna share.
PRO TIP: A warm brownie makes me smile. And because I want you to be happy too, ask them to heat up yours.
Go Vegan with… Herbivore Burger Platter
Definitely not your regular plant-based patty. Instead, it’s a balsamic marinated roasted Portobello mushroom topped with smoked tempeh (made from cooked soybeans) bacon, vegan Swiss cheese, vegan secret sauce, lettuce and tomato, served on a toasted kaiser roll and a side of crispy fries. Oh, and do yourself a favor and go sit outside while you eat your Herbivore to witness an amazing raptor hunt on Jurassic World VelociCoaster.
Go Vegetarian with… Jumbo Veggie Slice
Before living in the USA, I found it weird that Americans ate pizza during the day (in Brazil it’s usually a dinner option). Three years later and you can find me walking around the theme parks with a slice in hand in broad daylight. And this veggie one has become one of my Universal favorites: housemade dough, mozzarella, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomato sauce and herbs. Go for a whole pie if you’ve got a big party with you — or if you’re just really hungry.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Eggplant Parmesan
If you feel like skipping pizzas and burgers, try the breaded eggplant that comes with spaghetti, sliced tomatoes, sautéed veggies and is topped with marinara and vegan cheese. Delish.
Go Vegetarian with… Tofu Ramen Combo
I didn’t think I would find tofu vegan ramen at a theme park, but Universal never ceases to surprise me. With miso broth, edamame dumpling, bean sprouts, scallions and cilantro, this dish comes with an eggroll on the side. Yum.
PRO TIP: Make it vegan by switching out the egg roll for your traditional crunchy fries.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Pizza Tots
The guest-favorite Pizza Tots, but 100% vegan: crispy tater tots topped with mozzarella cheese, plant-based pepperoni and sausage, and tomato sauce. Hard to believe this is real, but it is.
Go Vegetarian with… Hummus
Throughout the year, Confisco adds different hummus options to their menu — how they get it absolutely right every time is beyond me! Currently they are offering Lemon Hummus, which is spiced chickpeas, creamy tahini sauce, paprika oil drizzle, sesame seeds with charred pita and chia seed cracker. Just one of those appetizers that can moonlight as entrées. Keep coming back so you get to try different, seasonal flavors!
Go Vegan with… Pad Thai
This delicious version of rice noodles and mixed veggies originally comes with chicken and shrimp, but if you substitute the protein for the crispy tofu and request the vegan peanut sauce, you’ve got a dish that is right up your alley.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Meatball Kebab Combo
A quick snack for when you’re on the go, the vegan meatballs are brushed with chermoula marinade and served on pita bread with ajvar sauce, caramelized onions and crumbled feta.
Go Vegetarian with… Falafel Kebab
Being of Syrian descent, I’ve always got lots to say about falafel and hummus. So, trust me when I tell you this is yummy.
PRO TIP: Make it vegan by asking for your falafel without the sauce.
The Magic Neep Cart at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade
Go Vegan with… Shepherd’s Pasty Pie
I recommend making a quick stop while at Hogsmeade to try the hand-size version of the Leaky Cauldron’s Shepherd’s Pie. This flaky pastry, stuffed with meatless beef crumbles and vegetable stew, is that perfect mid-afternoon snack. And if the hand-size version left you wanting more, head back to Universal Studios Florida and into the Leaky Cauldron in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley for the full-size version.
PRO TIP: You can also find this hand-size pie at King’s Cross Station at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley.
The Three Broomsticks in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade
Go Vegan with… Mushroom Pie Platter
Jackfruit is a great meat alternative in vegan and vegetarian recipes — plus, it’s high in nutrients and antioxidants, so, what’s not to
like love? This pie is served with a cucumber and tomato side salad with a vinaigrette dressing. Pretty high on my list of favorites!
This award-winning restaurant in the heart of Islands of Adventure deserves a visit on your theme-park day. Be sure to make a reservation here before heading there, though.
Go Vegetarian with… Spinach and Garlic Ravioli
Pasta is a great go-to option when craving something vegetarian. And this roasted spinach and garlic ravioli covered with tomatoes, sweet peas, herb-whipped ricotta and basil pesto cream sauce is just… *chef’s kiss!
MORE FROM THE MENU: Spana… Spanakop… I mean, it’s a really hard word to say. But you’ll order the Spanakopita (yes!) so many times that soon you’ll be pronouncing it like a pro. I tried it on my very first day working at Universal (shoutout to my beloved Discover Universal team) and have come back for it oh-too-many times. It’s a savory blend of spinach, feta cheese, lemon and herbs, served hot with pita chips that are seasoned with za’atar spice. Truly, a great vegetarian appetizer.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Chick’n & Avocado Sandwich Platter
Welp, who needs words after a photo like that? But I will add this: getting an order of this burger after a Volcano Bay day is exactly what you need, you just don’t know it yet. Or maybe you do. Just make sure you get the platter option because these fries are perfect.
Go Vegetarian with… Mac & Cheese
An easy pick for when you’re at Volcano Bay and need to feed your child — or the child in you. These al dente pasta shells come with a creamy white cheddar cheese sauce. Classic and spot-on.
Go Vegan with… Tropical Baby Greens Salad
Nothing is more on-brand than a fresh salad on a summer day. And this one is definitely climbing my “best salads” chart: it’s got shaved carrots, hearts of palm, diced mango, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, tofu, black beans and toasted almonds with soy garlic vinaigrette.
Go Vegetarian with… Veggie and Cheese Pizzas
For the vegetarians in your party, the cheese and veggie pizzas are two great options. And because we know that you won’t want to waste a single minute at Volcano Bay, they’re easy to eat on the go.
Go Vegan with… Quinoa Edamame Burger
Not all veggie burgers are created equal and the best proof I have is the quinoa edamame burger at Volcano Bay. The savoriness of the shiitake mushrooms combined with the subtle spiciness of the sriracha mayo are a match made in vegan-lover’s heaven. But it’s the crispy, crunchy texture of the quinoa edamame patty that just pushes this burger over the edge of deliciousness. The fact that you can enjoy it with your toes in the sand? Perfection.
Go Vegan with… Enchiladas Vegetarianas
Although the name suggests it’s veggie, it’s actually 100% vegan. And it will send your taste buds into overdrive: roasted sweet potatoes and corn, chayote (something that mildly tastes like apples and cucumbers), carrots, golden beets, jalapeño, onions, wild mushrooms, bell peppers, vegan cheese and ranchera sauce.
MORE FROM THE MENU: This spot is packed with vegan options! The Vegetal Fajitas and the Nopales Tacos are great for sharing.
Go Vegetarian with…Hearth Oven Baked Bread
“Andrezza, are you seriously recommending bread?” You bet I am. Bigfire’s signature hearth oven baked bread is served with herbed butter and orange peach preserves. Order it as an appetizer, with your entrée, or just take it to go. Whatever you do, do NOT leave the premises without it.
Go Vegan with… Cauliflower Steak
Who needs steak when they’ve got a grilled and crunchy cauliflower? With shishito peppers, roasted vine tomatoes, warm farro salad and charred tomato sauce, it tastes as good as it looks.
Go Vegetarian with… Natty Dread Vegetable Patties
Two pastries made in-house, filled with sweet potatoes, red beans, spinach, carrots, onions, coconut milk, coco bread, yucca fries and smoky ketchup. The ambiance sure helps: there’s something special about eating in this restaurant’s courtyard to the sound of some classic reggae songs.
Go Vegan with… Ital Eats Stuffed Peppers
I usually start my meals here by ordering the oven-roasted peppers stuffed with veggies and rice with zesty tomato sauce. It’s got a nice kick to it.
MORE FROM THE MENU: Why not wrap up your meal with a vegetarian dessert? Chocolate Jamaican Sensation is a guava chocolate cake with dulce de leche sauce. My oh my.
Go Vegan with… Beyond Burger
If stopping at Margaritaville is a must-do for your party, then order the vegan patty topped with pepper jack cheese and vegenaise (vegan mayo). The burgers come with a side of either french fries or sweet potato fries, so ask for their Housemade Guacamole to dip’em in.
Go Vegan with… Hot Vegan Sandwich
I have gone to CityWalk exclusively for this sandwich — yup, drove to Universal, parked my car, and walked the moving walkways just for this beautiful sandwich you see me holding. I don’t know, there’s just something about how it’s impeccably crafted. Plus, it’s packed with a bunch of flavors I love: portobello mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, caramelized onions, pepper jack cheese, arugula, truffle oil and basil pesto between a crispy multi-grain bread. See you there!
With this place serving great sushi and great burgers, I picked out one of each — that’s right, I got you covered.
Go Vegetarian with… The Heavenly Veggie
Housemade veggie burger, roasted red pepper, sliced avocado, red onion, baby spinach and a 7-grain wheat bun with a side of one of the best fries at Universal Orlando Resort? Yes, please! If the picture above is making your mouth water, know I ordered mine with the Texas Toast instead of the wheat bun.
Go Vegan with… The Tree Hugger
Although I was tempted to add this fusion specialty roll just because of what it’s called (come on, tree hugger?! Adorable!) I’m recommending it because it is, in fact, delicious. With shiitake mushrooms, fried portabella, red pepper, cucumber, red onion and basil, it’s served with a wasabi yuzu dipping sauce that’s the cherry on top.
Go Vegetarian… Large Warm Soft Pretzel
I’m not one to share food, but I couldn’t fly solo with this one. It’s ginormous. But whenever you run across something as good as this, you wanna share it with other people. You can dip it in jalapeño queso sauce or in Bertman Ball Park mustard — equally delicious and addictive.
Go Vegan with… Beyond Smokehouse
I love that NBC didn’t settle for a regular plant-based burger. Nope, they went all the way and added pulled jackfruit, American cheese, BBQ sauce and caramelized onions, all between two toasted kaiser rolls. All I can say is that over the years I’ve had my share of vegan burgers, but nothing like this one.
PRO TIP: If you’re veggie — but not vegan — make sure you order a side of the Parmesan Fries, one of the best in all of Universal Orlando Resort. Trust me, I wrote a whole blog about the must-try fries and tater tots that you can read here.
Go Vegan with… Jambalaya
You can ask for the vegan version of this staple dish: slow cooked Cajun rice, with zucchini, squash, black-eyed peas, corn and okra.
Go Vegetarian with… Vegetable Pasta
If it looks like steak and kinda smells like steak, well, then it must be steak… Right? Not here. What looks like meat is actually a big portobello mushroom steak served on zucchini and eggplant noodles, with carrots, sweety drop peppers and heirloom tomatoes covered in Romesco sauce. An interesting dish that deserves your attention.
Go Vegan with… Right Side Up Shake
You honestly didn’t think I’d let you crave those beautiful/decadent milkshakes from a distance, did you? Although most shakes at Toothsome are vegetarian (yay), this one is 100% vegan. Even the pineapple upside down cake? Yup, even the pineapple upside down cake. And before you ask me about the whipped topping, it’s oatmilk.
Go Vegetarian with…Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
This is a dish I’d recommend regardless if you’re a vegetarian or not. The layers of roasted eggplant topped with mozzarella, basil and Italian sauce make this very authentic — the cheese on this one isn’t vegan, so just order it if you’re veggie.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Sausage Pasta
If this wasn’t an all-veggie guide, I would’ve sworn this was pasta bolognese. It’s actually seared vegan Italian sausage over a nice al dente penne with spinach, covered with authentic Italian marinara sauce. If you’re a vegetarian and just happened to love this vegan suggestion, ask your server for some parmesan cheese to top off your pasta. Or lots of it.
Go Vegan with… Doughnuts
Walking around with a pink box isn’t just a luxury for non-vegans. At Voodoo you can find around 13 options of vegan doughnuts to choose from. Unable to pick one, I went with three: Dirt (vegan yeast doughnut with vanilla frosting and crushed Oreo cookies); Portland Cream (vegan shell filled with vegan cream); and PB&J (raised yeast shell filled with raspberry jelly, topped with peanut butter and a side dip of peanuts). And the thought of still having 10 others to try is just… a dream. Oh, and aside from the options that have bacon, all doughnuts here are vegetarian!
Go Vegan with… Vegan Field Dog
Okay, so far we’ve covered plant-based pasta, burgers, desserts, appetizers. But there’s still something missing: hot dogs. Yup! We’ve got vegan hot dogs too! This plant-based dog comes with roasted corn, jalapeño veganaise, vegan cheese, ancho chiles and cilantro on a hoagie roll.
PRO TIP: Make it a combo so you get a side of their fries, another one of my favorites.
Universal Orlando Resort Hotels
Go Vegetarian with…Black Bean & Quinoa Burger
This is probably my favorite plant-based burger throughout all of Universal Orlando because of the black bean and quinoa patty — I love that it’s not one of those patties that tries to taste and look like meat, it’s simply a great vegetarian one. The avocado and sun-dried tomato relish on top play an outstanding supporting role and takes this burger up quite a few notches. Team work, am I right?
Go Vegan with… Pasta Vesuvio Sausage
I don’t think it gets more Italian than this. The penne is al dente (which I looove) and is served with vegan sausage, sweet peppers, crushed tomatoes, broccolini and herb bread crumbs. Oh, and the scooter — unfortunately — is not included in your order.
MORE FROM THE MENU: One of the main reasons why going 100% vegan is still challenging to me is because I don’t know how I’d do breakfasts without scrambled eggs. Well, until now. There’s a Vegetable Tofu Scramble on the menu that deserves your attention: it’s made of roasted vegetables, Yukon potato, beets, carrots, parsnips, and fresh herbs, and is seasoned with lemon and turmeric. Black coffee on the side sure makes this a meal to remember.
Go Vegetarian with… Melanzana Alla Parmigiano
This charming Italian spot is a hidden gem… All right, maybe not hidden, but it’s most definitely a gem. It’s actually one of the staple restaurants at Portofino and a place I wish no one else knew about so I could always get a table by the window. But regardless of where I sit, I’m instantly transported to Italy from the moment I walk through those doors! And I always order the same dish: the eggplant with parmesan cheese. And you know what goes great with that? Italian Wine.
Go Vegetarian with… Vegetable Sal-Zone
(Before we get into what actually matters, did you just grin right now after reading the name of this dish? I did too, so funny. Aaanyway…) The
Cal Sal-Zone is filled with ratatouille-style zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onion, peppers, parmesan cheese and mozzarella, served with a side of Marinara Sauce. Delectable.
MORE FROM THE MENU: If you’re more of a pizza-person, go vegetarian with Sal’s Margherita Pizza. It’s big enough to share (or not).
Go Vegetarian with… “Splash” Nachos
I love nachos and I was really hoping to get a vegetarian one in this guide — as a veggie, I can tell you it is HARD to find chili-free nachos. The crispy tortillas are topped with fresh salsa, black olives, sour cream and homemade guacamole and cheddar cheese sauce. And since it’s called Splash, you might as well go eat it by the water and enjoy the view.
Go Vegetarian with… Caprese Salad or Antipasto Platter
I’m recommending two options at this quaint bar because it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re going to The Thirsty Fish for dinner, then definitely get the Caprese: buffalo and baby mozzarella, vine-ripened tomato, baby arugula all seasoned with a balsamic reduction. But if the night’s shaping up to be more of a bar-like evening, then go with the Antipasto Platter (but order it without the meats): marinated olives, mushrooms, artichokes, roasted red peppers, aged provolone and pecorino cheese. Pair that with one of their signature cocktails — I usually order the Amaretto Sour — and ask for a table outside so you can feel like you’re actually sitting by a harbor in a charming Italian seaside village.
Go Vegetarian with… Grilled Peach Flatbread
This is how I envision your meal at The Kitchen going: you start off with one of their nice signature cocktails (I love taking my tequila in a good salted rim glass, so I’d go with Hard Carry) and an order of one of my favorite starters on their brand new menu: the Grilled Peach Flatbread. If you enjoy mixing sweet and savory flavors, this one will hit the spot, as the sweet peaches blend perfectly with the whipped ricotta and aged balsamic reduction. Keep reading for the whole course…
Go Vegan with… Vegan Rigatoni
Now that we’ve covered both drinks and starters, it’s time for the entrée. Pasta is always a good idea and this one comes with mushroom ragoût, tomatoes, vegan parmesan cheese and basil. Talk about the art of nailing a classic.
MORE FROM THE MENU: An exquisite ingredient adds a hint of sophistication to the traditional Macaroni & Cheese over at The Kitchen: truffle oil. It’s a mac & cheese game-changer. Although it’s a side option, who said you can’t order more than one serving? Finish off your meal with any of their decadent vegetarian desserts — but because I’m loyal to the classics, I always go with the Classic Crème Brûlée.
Go Vegetarian with… Pretzel Nuggets
Warm pretzel bites with garlic parmesan seasoning. I don’t think you need more convincing.
Go Vegan with… Impossible Burger
I’m always on the lookout for the best vegan burgers in town and this one made it to my top choices. It’s pretty straightforward, but cooked to perfection. Order some of their famous Sweet Potato Tots and you’re all set for a day at the pool.
Go Vegetarian with… Pancakes, Waffles and French Toast
That trio is really all I’m looking for for breakfast. And at Islands they’re made fresh off the griddle. I always feel torn between the Hawaiian Pancakes, with toasted coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts, and the Tahitian French Toast L’orange, which comes with caramelized bananas and cinnamon butter. The Belgian Waffle is a classic go-to and this one comes loaded with berries. If you can’t decide, order one of each to share with your party.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Drunken Noodles
Plant-based chicken, rice noodles, peppers, shiitake mushrooms, snow peas covered in Thai basil sauce. A simple-yet-delicious flavor — I mean, favor! — you do for yourself.
Go Vegetarian with… Homemade Pretzel Rods
I have a confession to make: as a Brazilian, it wasn’t until (very) recently that I finally tried soft pretzels. I know that might sound crazy, but it’s just not a common snack down there. But now that I have, I at long last understand what the fuss is all about. A big pretzel-lover recommended these to me and I’m glad they did. The appetizer comes with a tangy mustard sauce and a four-cheese stout fondue to dip the warm rods in.
Go Vegan with… Spaghetti & Vegan Bolognaise Pasta
After a day of lounging by the pool at Royal Pacific Resort, make sure you stop at Jake’s before heading back to your room. Or make reservations at this spot even if you’re not staying at the hotel. Whatever the scenario, there’s only one possible outcome: dinner at Jake’s and an order of their vegan spaghetti (the sauce and parmesan cheese are vegan too, of course).
MORE FROM THE MENU: Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or none of the above, putting in an order of fries for the table is a must-do. They’ve got ZTF French Fries, Sweet Potato Wedge Fries, Jake’s Cheese Fries, Truffle Parmesan Fries… There’s really no excuse not to order them.
Go Vegetarian with… Vegetable Roll
Before we get into how delicious this roll is, let’s start with an order of miso soup and steamed edamame. You’ll want some sake to pair with that, too — or, if you’re feeling bold, how about some Japanese Whiskey? Now, about that roll… It’s got cucumber, avocado, kampyo (dried shavings of calabash), asparagus, yamagobo (a popular Japanese pickled burdock root) and cilantro. If you’ve got room for more, go for the Sweet Potato Tempura Roll, served with honey.
This venue is vegan heaven. And it deserves to be featured with all its surprising menu items — feature photo and all!
Go Vegetarian with… The Beyond Burger
I know, it seems like a normal burger, but it got me going “wow!” a couple times. First, because the bun is no regular bun: it’s a Caribbean coconut pineapple bread, which is just so different from anything I’ve had before. Second, the vegan mozzarella cheese is actually melted — and as a vegan, you know this is no easy feat (shh, the secret is to shred it!). And the final flourish is onions and an avocado crema.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Sweet Chipotle “Pork” Arepa
An appetizer that I will certainly order as a main dish next time I’m there. Crunchy and a bit spicy, this corn arepa is filled with sweet chipotle jackfruit (the vegan go-to substitute for pork), arugula, pickled red onions, and avocado crema. There’s just so many different flavors to it that it’s worth ordering whether you’re vegan or not.
MORE FROM THE MENU: I’m going to go off script here and recommend two additional dishes — I told ya, this place is vegan heaven! The Vegan Masala Curry “Chicken” is a rich vegetable medley mixed with plant-based chicken and coconut rice, all tossed in a curry Masala sauce. I cannot emphasize how delectable this dish is. And if you’re looking for another appetizer option, I wholeheartedly recommend the Vegan BBQ “Chicken” Flatbread. Not in a million years would I have guessed that it’s not actually chicken.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Breadfruit Tostones
I love it when chefs clearly put lots of thought into a dish — in this case, in each layer of the dish. I was intrigued just by reading its description on the menu of this award-winning restaurant: sautéed mushrooms between breadfruit tostones and vegan chicharron. If you, like me, don’t understand what these items are, here’s what I learned: breadfruit is a staple food in the Caribbean and resembles plantains, although it’s definitely savory; and while the original version of a chicharron consists of fried pork belly, the vegan one has the same texture and crunchiness to it. A lovely surprise.
PRO TIP: Mistake #1: using silverware to eat this. Mistake #2: tasting each layer separately. The best way to savor this dish and get the full experience is by grabbing it as if it were a sandwich and taking a bite with all the layers. Oh, and make sure you dip it in the avocado purée.
MORE FROM THE MENU: The Vegan Hot Pot has just been officially added to the menu — it’s made to order and deserves a huge shout out! It’s a spinach purée mixed with potato and vegan dumplings, and garnished with crispy potato sticks. And because it’s got a nice kick to it, the Chef at Strong Water recommends pairing it with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or, why not, champagne — the explosion of flavors you’ll get from this match, my friend, is something else.
Go Vegetarian… Southwestern Flatbread
I love flatbreads. And it makes me so happy that restaurants are making sure to include great veggie versions of them. And this is definitely one of the great ones: refried beans, roasted corn, peppers, tomatoes, with queso fresco and avocado ranch cream.
Go Vegan with… Mindful “Chick’n” Wrap
Sometimes I catch myself craving something that isn’t exactly a sandwich, but still has the same elements as one. And then it hits me: I feel like getting a wrap. It’s light, yet satisfying. This vegan plant-based protein wrap has crunchy veggies loaded with Asian flavors.
Go Vegetarian with… Garden Signature Bao
I love a good bao and this spot has got a great vegetarian one. It’s soy roasted mushrooms, carrot, cucumber, pickled onion, ginger soy vin and pea shoots. And because you’re at the coolest rooftop bar in town (Bar 17 Bistro is set 17 floors above ground) order an Orlandos & Dont’s Cocktail — with gin, saké, lemon, cucumber and raspberry — to sip with your bao while taking in the spectacular view.
Go Vegan with… Vegan Avocado Toast
I guess we’ve pretty much accepted the fact that avocado toasts are here to stay. And it’s become a safe breakfast option for us veggies and vegans. At Pier 8 Market, you get yours with vegan cheese and pico de gallo on a multi-grain toast.
MORE FROM THE MENU: If you’re craving avocados for lunch too, order the VB, their Beyond burger served with crushed avocados, tomatoes and caramelized onions.
Go Vegetarian with… Beyond Bahn Mi Burger
Vegetarian patty, pickled cucumber, carrots, cabbage, cilantro, sriracha spread, all in a toasted bun. A recipe for success!
MORE FROM THE MENU: I’m legitimately impressed by the many veggie options this great spot offers — especially since it’s at a value hotel! They’ve got a Veggie Quesadilla, with black bean, corn salsa, cheddar cheese, and guacamole, and a crispy Vegetarian Pizza too, with onions, peppers, mushrooms and black olives.
Phew, that’s what I call a tasting! Hope you enjoyed the great vegetarian and plant-based options Universal Orlando Resort has to offer. Do you have a favorite one? Did I skip any must-try recommendations? Share with us in the comments below or by tagging us on social media.
Must be 21 years and older with valid photo identification to purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Drink responsibly.
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