Gather 'round, ye Muggles: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood opens on April 7, and for those who refer to themselves without shame as Potterheads, there is a lot to be excited about. Hippogriff rides! The Hogwarts Express! Gringotts Bank! Moaning Myrtle bathrooms!
Yet in the modern era, theme parks are no longer solely judged by the quality of their rides but also by the quality of their concessions. At W.W.H.P. the main dining options are found at the Three Broomsticks and the attached Hog’s Head Inn, a spacious, rustic-themed tavern decorated with creaky wooden furniture, spooky candle lighting and all sorts of whimsical touches that make you expect 12-year-old Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson to come bounding down the staircases any minute.
Considering that J.K. Rowling doesn’t actually describe the food much in the original books (various wizarding candies aside), most of the dishes end up resembling traditional British pub fare, given that Hogwarts is in England. Which makes sense, right? Just because wizards have the power of magic doesn’t mean they can somehow make British food taste or look any better.
On the Three Broomsticks menu you’ll find fish and chips, shepherd's pie, Guinness lamb stew, smoked turkey legs and a full English breakfast that boldly opts to include traditional blood sausage. If you’re an adult herding kids hopped up on non-alcoholic Butterbeer, you might be more interested in the real beers served at Hog’s Head Inn, all brewed by Florida Brewing Co.: Dragonscale Lager, Hog’s Head Scottish Red Ale and the Wizard’s Brew Porter. There are cocktails, too, such as the Pear Dazzle, with vodka, lemonade and pear cider, or the Applejack, with Jack Daniel’s and apple cider – just don’t expect any fancy mixology magic.
So what dishes are most worth your gold Galleons? After a night of sampling from a buffet line filled with Potter-themed delights, these were the five items that were the most memorable.
If you’re going to W.W.H.P, you’re probably going to end up with a glass of Butterbeer, which is, for all intents and purposes, butterscotch-flavored cream soda. You can have it regular, topped with a thick, slightly salty butterscotch foam or frozen, which amounts to butterscotch slushie. Now what's the spell that cures wizard diabetes?
Bangers & Mash with Minted Peas
For those who have never been to a British pub, bangers = sausages; mash = mashed potatoes; minted peas = peas with chopped mint. These are all things old-timey British people love, and at Three Broomsticks the pork sausages are surprisingly plump and juicy. Those minted peas, though? They taste like peas.
Fire Whisky + Strongbow
Full disclosure: We didn’t actually get to sample this drink, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. A shot of "Fire Whisky," the fictional beverage of choice for alcoholic wizards everywhere (Jack Daniel’s Fire, in real life) is dropped into a pint of Strongbow hard cider. "It tastes like apple pie," says a pointed cap-wearing bartender. It's also probably the most diabolically efficient method ever devised to get smashed at a family theme park.
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Beef Sunday Roast
If you’re ordering the $21 prime rib plate at a Universal Studios theme park, you’re obviously doing pretty well for yourself. That said, it’s hard to go wrong with a slab of rare-ish roast beef drenched in gravy. But the Yorkshire pudding on the side? Let’s just say it's got nothing on the one at Tam O’Shanter.
Sticky Toffee Pudding
There are several options for dessert, including a chocolate trifle, potted creams and giant apple pies. Go with the sticky toffee pudding, served hot with a scoop of ice cream on top. It's soft, gooey and very sweet, with little bits of caramelized crust that get stuck in your teeth. You might require a nap in the broom closet afterward.