When it comes to finding a place to eat at Universal Orlando Resort’s CityWalk entertainment district, you have plenty of choices. From Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans fare and Jimmy Buffet’s casual eats to Cowfish’s mash-up of burgers and sushi – there’s something for everyone!
The other night I made a stop at the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner after braving the parks that were overflowing with the spring break crowds. This wasn’t the first time I’ve been to this particular Hard Rock, as well as others, so I know what I was walking into.
I grabbed one of many open seats at the bar, which was still sloppy from the former occupant and the bartender apologized and quickly cleaned it up. I ordered a beer as I perused through the menu, which was sticky and a bit on the gross side if I’m going to be honest.
They say one of the most germ-laden items in a restaurant is the menu, and after thumbing my way through the pages, I certainly agree. When my beer came, I pushed the menu aside, headed to the men’s room to wash my hands as there was no way I was going to even touch my beer glass after handling the menu.
But before I left to wash up, I did tell the bartender the menu was really dirty and should be cleaned. It went right back in the pile with the rest of them.
The menu at the Hard Rock Cafe in Orlando is nothing special. You know going in there it’s a typical beer, burger, and ribs joint that just so happens to have a lot of rock-and-roll memorabilia laying around.
Starters include your standards like wings, nachos, tenders and the ubiquitous “sampler platter” as well as a few salads.
There are about ten burgers including a cauliflower burger where the meat patty was exchanged for you guessed it… cauliflower. Not sure about that one. Ribs, pulled pork, sandwiches, fajitas and a couple steaks and a salmon dish make up the rest of the menu.
I started out ordering a House Salad, which ended up being the best part of the meal. It was a large salad chock full of more than just greens and tomatoes. There were croutons, dried cranberries, feta cheese, tomatoes and more. Not something I was expecting, so it was a welcome change from the paltry, anemic salads you get with dinners at most restaurants – including some fine dining establishments.
For the main course, I went with something I haven’t had since I visited a Chili’s back in the late 90’s – fajitas. They offer up your standard chicken, steak, shrimp or a combo of all three. I went with the combo.
I was three forks into the salad when all of a sudden, bang!
The fajitas arrived.
I literally just got the salad and my entree was already here. The bartender said, “I can take them back and keep them warm if you want.”
I opted to keep my fajitas heat lamp-free and suffer through eating two courses at once.
The portion size was good, three shrimp and a good amount of chicken and steak. The guac, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce was enough to make it through the whole meal. The tortillas were a bit on the hard side and broke apart when trying to roll them. That’s really all I can say about them… they were pretty unremarkable.
Tourist trap? Yes.
Is there better? Yes.
If you’re looking for a burger and beer after a day in the park, or just want to stop by and knock back a couple of cold ones, you’re good. You can’t expect stellar service either, as evidenced by a dirty bar, even dirtier menus, and food that came out rushed and untimed.