There's no need to survive on hot dogs and popcorn while visiting Universal Studios Orlando. Why not try a more sophisticated dining experience while visiting the theme parks?
Emeril Lagasse’s Tchoup Chop
Over at Universal Orlando Resort, Emeril Lagasse has opened two restaurants. City Walk, Universal’s entertainment venue, has an Emeril’s Orlando, and the Loews Royal Pacific Resort is home to his latest installation, Tchoup Chop (the name plays on Tchoupitoulas Street, home to Lagasse's flagship restaurant in New Orleans.
As with bluezoo, the family-friendly atmosphere at Tchoup Chop is part of the scene. Sure, there are tables full of executive types, but when we arrive too early for our reservation, the hosts suggest a wait at the bar and tell us of course the kids can sit there. The kids are delighted to hear a list of virgin cocktails available and intrigued by the Japanese soda bottles. To open them, you first have to push a marble into the bottle; then you can drink without the marble falling back out. (Don’t ask me how it works, I’m the grownup.)
Here, the theme is a hybrid of Polynesian and Asian mixed with a touch of European and American influences. Lunch is offered daily with bento box and noodle bowl options. Dinner and happy hours are also offered daily.
The last thing you might think of when planning a theme park trip is lunch, but I recommend making it a part of the plan. Lunch menus usually have lower prices, so it’s a budget bonus. Eat well now and treat your evening meal as the lighter meal (giving you more time to enjoy the parks in the cooler evening hours). The guest services department of the park can help you make reservations at the finer (even four-star) restaurants.
On a recent trip to Universal’s Islands of Adventure, we made a reservation at Mythos, an award-winning restaurant in the Lost Continent area of the park. We’d already hit a few rides. It was a hot day. Any other trip, we’d have been looking for a quick bite on the run.
But this day, we showed up at Mythos for our reservation. The cool and quiet restaurant offered a welcome respite from the heat and pace of the visit. We sat down, enjoyed a full meal from the seasonal menu and planned the rest of our visit while looking out over the water, The Incredible Hulk Coaster silently making its way around and around in the distance. The experience was so pleasant, we’ll always be sure to have plans – and reservations – for lunch.