I wanted to run in like Buddy, the Elf.
“You did it!” I’d shout. “World’s best theme park restaurant! Great job everyone.”
I didn’t, of course.
Instead, we wandered in meekly, spoke to the host in hushed tones and waited a couple of minutes to be seated for our reservation.
Certainly, naming the “world’s greatest” anything is an impossible task. The world is too big for enough people to visit enough places to give a fair assessment.
World’s greatest? Heck, naming the top places in Orlando is a tall order.
Still, I don’t blame Theme Park Insider for their annual awards. Give the people what they want. And what they want, apparently, is a Mediterranean-themed restaurant with allusions to ancient Gods and a lot of faux rock formations.
For 21 years, Theme Park Insider has been asking its readers to name the world’s best theme park restaurant.
In ten of those years, including the last four in a row, Mythos – a full-service restaurant at the Universal Orlando campus – has taken the top prize.
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How legit is this award?
Oh. Not at all. Again, it’s impossible to do. Is there any way to verify whether the voters have eaten in Tokyo or Paris or Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio or Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee or Great Wolf Lodge or all of the Six Flags?
No, there’s not.
This year, Theme Park Insider’s top 10 included both Harry Potter restaurants and the Jungle Navigation Co., Skipper Canteen at Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom and two of the EPCOT restaurants – Le Cellier and Les Chefs De France. All in all, seven of the top 10 are in Orlando.
There’s just no way that’s legitimate.
Is Mythos the best theme park restaurant at Universal?
Depends on how we’re vetting this.
If you include the restaurants at CityWalk, then there’s absolutely no way Mythos is the best. It could be your personal favorite, but objectively there are better options at CityWalk.
If Universal’s CityWalk is out of bounds, then Mythos has a chance. I preferred Lombard’s Seafood Grill but I wouldn’t find it out of place if someone said they liked Mythos better.
So is Mythos good?
Yes. It’s quite good. Even if Mythos wasn’t imprisoned within a theme park that cost $100 or so just to get in, I’d happily dine there.
Where is Mythos in Universal Islands of Adventure?
The Mythos restaurant is located in the Lost Continent section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.
Specifically, it’s right across from Poseidon’s Fury, aka the worst attraction in Orlando.
What vibe does Mythos have?
The exterior features towering rock formations, cascading waterfalls and ancient figures carved into the side of the restaurant.
The cavernous interior creates the feel of a craggy grotto on a distant ocean. Outdoor seating offers a spectacular view of the park’s inland sea and colorful lands.
Do I need a reservation for Mythos?
Probably. We booked months in advance and when we got there, they were taking walk-ups.
Later in the trip, when we went back, there was a significant wait. You might get lucky with no reservation, but you’d be better off making one.
What’s on the menu at Mythos?
Well, Universal describes the fare as casually elegant. There’s some leeway for judgment calls on “elegant” but that’s not a word I’d have typed on my own.
Universal also says Mythos offers exceptional modern cuisine in a mythical setting that sparks the imagination. That’s a bit more enthusiastic than I’d have rated it.
Look, we’re talking mild fusion here. For example, they have Mediterranean, some Asian and also some American options like Greek salads, Pad Thai, sandwiches, burgers and more.
I imagine for some people it can be more than a little exotic but for many, it’s pretty standard stuff.
What should you order at Mythos in Universal?
Well, let’s break it down the only way we know how. It’s list time, baby.
Note that prices are subject to change.
17. Chocolate Banana Gooey Cake ($7)
From the dessert menu, this warm flourless chocolate cake is drizzled with caramel sauce and topped with peanut butter ice cream and candied bananas.
Sometimes you just need a warm gooey dessert.
16. Tuscan Tomato Soup ($8)
In particular, I’m a sucker for a good cup of soup. The tomato soup at Mythos is a slow-roasted hearty tomato soup with housemade croutons, Parmesan and basil oil drizzle.
It is good tomato soup.
15. Mezze Platter ($12)
The whole point of coming to a place like Mythos is trying to get in the spirit.
This platter, a tasting of housemade hummus, baba ganoush, marinated fennel and Kalamata olives is served with charred pita and is perfectly in the spirit of the experience.
14. Semolina Crusted Calamari ($14)
Ainsley, my 7-year-old picky eater, has gotten very into calamari so we’ve become something of calamari experts over the last year and a half. Every place we go that has the calamari, we’re in.
The Mythos version is tender calamari flash fried, served with Spanish chorizo aioli, which was very good. It was served with charred lemon.
13. Chef’s Signature Greek with Shrimp ($25)
Look, we’ve ranked a lot of fairly heavy entrées. However, you will later go out there in what’s going to feel like a sauna after the nice cool interior of Mythos. A heavy Mythos lunch might have you wanting to go back to the hotel for a nap.
Therefore, you need something light, something that can keep you on your feet without bogging you down.
So, a delicious Greek salad of shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, red onions, Kalamata olives, feta crackers, herb-lemon vinaigrette and marinated feta might be just the thing.
If you’re not into the Greek, they have a wedge, which has crisp iceberg lettuce, blue cheese vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, red onion, bacon crumbles and croutons
There’s also a heart of Romaine Caesar with crisp romaine, roasted plum tomato, charred pita and house-made Caesar dressing with shaved Parmesan. But I wouldn’t rank either this high.
12. Gnocchi Bolognese ($22)
The gnocchi has slow-simmered beef and tomato cream sauce and crispy Parmesan wafers.
It’s fine but if you want Italian, maybe make reservations at Mama Della’s Ristorante at Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel.
11. Spanakopita Dip ($11)
My grandparents lived for years over on the Gulf Coast above Tampa. As a result, one of our favorite things was to go to Tarpon Springs, the little sponge diving community that was initially settled by Greeks who hang on to many of the traditions.
I can’t claim to be a Spanakopita expert but I’ve had what I believe to be some authentic experience.
This dip is a savory blend of spinach, feta cheese, lemon and fresh herbs, served hot with fresh pita chips seasoned with za’atar spice with fresh cucumber, tomato and olives. It was quite good and lived up to my expectations.
10. Balsamic Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($18)
This sandwich has marinated grilled chicken breast, roasted garlic lime cilantro aioli, bacon, grilled red onion, lettuce, tomato and mozzarella cheese, served with French fries.
9. Mythos Signature Lamb Burger ($20)
I certainly don’t see a lot of lamb on the menu back home.
This hand-packed ground lamb burger comes with grilled onion, shredded lettuce, fresh tomato and feta-olive aioli and is served with French fries.
It’s a tasty twist on an old favorite.
8. Fork, Knife and Spoon Grilled Cheese ($19)
Sofia, my teenager, tried this on our last visit and it wasn’t her favorite so we traded.
I quite enjoyed the unique presentation of a classic 3 cheese sandwich set in a Tuscan tomato soup with crispy pork belly and garnished with housemade chips, but again, I’m a tomato soup kind of guy.
7. Beef Loin Medallions ($28)
This is what I ordered and traded with Sofia on our last trip and I did get to try the dish.
It comes with Yukon potato puree, satuéed haricot vert, watermelon radish, watercress and a red wine reduction.
6. Pad Thai ($26)
This delicious Pad Thai has rice noodles, mixed vegetables, chicken and shrimp tossed in a mild sweet and sour peanut sauce.
5. Shrimp Sushi Katsu Roll ($13)
This appetizer comes with flash-fried panko crust, sweet soy and wasabi aioli.
4. Souvlaki Couscous Bowl with Moroccan Beef Kabob ($27)
There are chicken kebab and tofu options to add to this classic dish of za’atar spiced couscous, fresh cucumbers, marinated artichoke, kalamata olives, spiced chickpeas, feta cheese, tzatziki and tahini dressing.
3. Sea Scallop and Barley Risotto ($34)
This features sea scallops roasted wild mushrooms, red wine demi, shaved grana Padano and pea tendril. I love a good tendril.
2. Pan-Roasted Wild Salmon ($33)
This pan-roasted salmon is served with roasted carrot puree, fingerling potatoes, shitake mushrooms, baby spinach, crispy shaved asparagus and macerated red grapes.
1. Brick Oven Roasted Chicken ($25)
Let’s dive into a Ras El Hanout spiced half chicken, dijon roasted fingerling potatoes and garlic wilted rapini in natural jus.
If you want the real Mythos experience, this is it right here.
The restaurant also offers a kids menu. Nothing particularly stands out here. In fact, it’s about what you’d expect at any theme park restaurant in the world.
But John, you didn’t rank the octopus
That’s right. It’s off the board. You like octopus? I don’t judge. But I can’t do it.
And this is in spite of the fact that I’ve tried just about anything put in front of me, including greasy bear meat. I have tried octopus.
But can I tell you if this octopus is better than any other octopus in the world? Reader, I cannot.
However, I can tell you the Mediterranean Grilled Octopus, for $16, is presented as citrus charred octopus, roasted corn and Kalamata olive relish and roasted garlic lime aioli.
How does it taste? I have no idea.
Can you leave Universal Studios and come back?
Earlier, I mentioned going back to the hotel to take a nap after your big meal. So, you can leave and go back? Sure. Your ticket is good all day.
Have you tried Mythos at Universal Islands of Adventure? If so, let us know if you enjoyed it in the comments!