The rides at Universal Studios are a lot of fun, but to be honest one of my absolute favorite parts of visiting the park is the abundance of gluten-free menus and well-trained staff. As anyone who is strictly gluten free can understand, our choices are so often limited that when we have a lot of options it feels a little like Christmas. This was our second trip to the park so I already had some familiar places I wanted to revisit, but we tried some new things too.
On Friday night, we headed off to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. They advertised having a gluten-free menu, and we were both in the mood for some seafood, so we headed there. It's a very kitschy place, full of Forrest Gump memorabilia, and there are different sections of the restaurant designed like different parts of the movie. They did have the promised gluten-free menu, but I was slightly disappointed to see that I had about three choices in total. Fortunately I found something in my limited selection that sounded good - the shrimp and veggie skewers with lemon cream sauce. They were pretty good, but nothing I couldn't have done at home myself. Still, a nice way to start the weekend!
On Saturday we returned to Mythos for lunch, since it's right in the Islands of Adventure and they had some good gluten-free options clearly marked on their regular menu. I debated trying something new, but ended up going with the same pad thai I ordered last time since I knew it was really good. It was a hit yet again - and actually even better left over and cold, since the portion was so huge that I had plenty for a late afternoon mini-meal!
Dinner Saturday night was the highlight of the trip - we had reservations at Emeril's Tchoup Chop, a fantastic restaurant right in our hotel, the Loews Royal Pacific. We loved our meal there on our last visit, so it was the first place I thought of when we booked this trip. It was even better this time around! They had a new offering for table munchies, these amazing light shrimp chips, that were gluten free, and the server brought a special GF orange chili dipping sauce for me. Then we ordered a tuna roll appetizer, which was served up with gluten-free soy sauce - they even brought the bottle out to the table so I knew for certain it was safe.
For my entree, I chose the pan-roasted duck with mashed potatoes and broccolini. It was already a gluten-free dish aside from the plum umeboshi glaze, but they replaced it with a different glaze that was amazing - sweet and tangy, and a fantastic accompaniment to the perfectly-cooked duck.
Total home run on this one - it was a very memorable meal and the highlight of our trip!
The next morning we decided to eat breakfast at the hotel restaurant, and when we first entered I thought I was going to be in trouble - they weren't doing the a la carte menu I had seen online, just a buffet, since they were busy prepping for a big Mothers Day brunch event. But I ended up being very pleasantly surprised when I mentioned my issue to our waiter and he had the chef out to our table within two minutes. The chef told me that the omelet bar would be a safe choice, and that he could prepare me some safe bacon in the back and even some hash browns done in gluten-free oil. Music to my ears!
The hash brown patties I got were way better than the potato chunks Hubs got off the buffet - he ended up pilfering one of mine actually! Luckily the chef brought out generous portions and there was plenty to go around. They were crispy, light, and really made my breakfast something special. Extra bonus that the table had cute little sealed mini glass bottles of ketchup - zero cross-contamination risk! I have seen too many knives get stuck in glass bottles to free up the ketchup flow to ever use a shared one again...
Our final meal of the weekend was another one I had really been looking forward to - a cheeseburger in paradise at Margaritaville! Sure, I can eat a burger at plenty of places minus the bun, but there's just something so satisfying about being able to pick up a big, juicy burger with your hands. Plus, not only do they have GF buns, their fries are also safe. It was a great meal to cap off the weekend before we headed back home!