I was recently invited to sample the refreshed menu at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Orlando located in City Walk at Universal Studios. It had been a few years since my last visit to this location, so it was nice to explore the newer options. The ambiance is full on island time with volcanoes, live Buffett concert footage, stilt walkers and sing-alongs. It’s always 5 o’clock in Margaritaville, yet the ambiance remains very family friendly.
What is a visit to Margaritaville without sampling some of the delicious margaritas? We started with The Perfect Margarita and Livin’ It Up Margarita, on the rocks. The The Perfect Margarita is just that, a blend of Margaritaville Gold & Silver Tequila triple sec and lime juice (in lieu of mixer). The Livin’ It Up Margarita is made with the Sauza Tres Generaciones Anejo Tequila and the house-made agave margarita mix. Both margaritas were smooth and well balanced with a nice lime to tequila flavor.
On to the appetizers, we started with the Beach Tacos, which come two to an order and can be mix and matched from Carne Asada Steak, Braised Port Carnitas or Chicken Tinga. Our group ordered the Carne Asada Steak and the Braised Pork Carnitas. The two tacos had a nice portion of tender and flavorful meat, queso fresco and various garnish. Our table declared a tie for the favorite.
Next up was the Asiago Crab Dip, a rich and creamy Asiago cheesy base with lots of sweet, lump blue crab and topped with buttery garlic bread crumbs which toasted up nicely. The grilled crostini provided a study base for the substantial dip. Nice flavors throughout and there was not a bite left when our plates were cleared.
The Grilled Shrimp Skewers and White Cheddar Cheese Curds rounded out our appetizers. The Grilled Shrimp skewers were basted in a Jerk glaze, which was well spiced, zesty and a pleasing compliment to the sweetness and acidity in the pineapple slices which acted as a base for the skewers. I am a fan of fried cheese curds and was surprised to see them on the menu. Not familiar with cheese curds? Think the texture of fried mozzarella cheese sticks, but with a cheddar cheese flavor. The fried curds were delicious- great with both the marinara sauce and with the Landshark Lager BBQ sauce that is included. I preferred the Landshark BBQ, but my guests gravitated towards the marinara.
We took a brief intermission before entrees and enjoyed a flight of margaritas. This is a fun way to try the many fun flavors crafted at Margaritaville. Of the flavors tasted, the Blueberry Pomegranate and Mango were big hits. Again, great flavors and a smooth balance between mixers and tequila. Also sampled was the Italian Margarita, which was probably our favorites of the non traditional margaritas. Made with Margaritaville Calypso Coconut tequila and amaretto, along with house made (lime) margarita mix, the drink was a fun departure from the traditional margarita. The sampler is a nice idea for one adventurous person or fun for a table to share.
Our entrees arrived, starting with a New York strip steak which was cooked properly to the ordered temperature. The 12 ounce steak was tender and prepared well, with plentiful sides. The Yukon Gold Mashed potatoes were topped with cheese, Applewood-smoked bacon, sour cream and green onions which added a nice steakhouse touch. The fresh green beans were seasoned nicely and still had a pleasing fresh-crisp bite.
The fish tacos included large fish planks dipped into the Margaritaville Landshark Lager batter and fried until flaky and delicious. There was a substantial portion of battered fish tucked in the tacos and the cilantro lime coleslaw topper provided a nice layer of flavor. The black beans were seasoned well and tasty with the rice or when added to the taco, as was the pico. I enjoyed the tacos and I can bet the Fish and Chips are just as yummy, since the battered fish is the star in that dish as well.
Lastly was the Chimichurri Flat Iron Steak with chimichurri sauce and loaded mashed potatoes. The 10 ounce flatiron steak was also cooked to the requested temperature and very flavorful. The table particularly enjoyed the chimichurri sauce in combination with the nice sear on the meat.
Those who enjoy the Key Lime Pie should be sure to save room for the Margaritaville Key Lime Pie. The pie filling was a nice creamy consistency with the right balance of sweet and tart against the buttery graham cracker crust.
Our attentive server stopped by our table with a lazy susan and utensils, which piqued our interest. Then, she arrived and presented the Chocolate Hurricane, which takes a minute or two to absorb. It’s certainly enough for 3-4 people and I can imagine this being a big hit for birthday celebrations.
We should walk though what is included: a stack of fudgy brownies, 1 pint of premium vanilla bean ice cream, 2 whipped cream mountains, 1 sliced banana, crumbled Heath bars, shortbread cookies, Kit Kats, pirouette cookies, macadamia nuts and it’s all topped with caramel and hot fudge sauce tableside. This impressive dessert will feed a crowd and creates a lot of interest throughout the dining room when delivered.
Because a picture isn’t enough, here is a video of the toppings being swirled on…makes me wish were back on island time, wastin’ away in Margaritaville.
Disclosure: I was a guest in connection with a media preview tasting at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. No other form of compensation was received and the opinions in this post are my own. Cheers!
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