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Review: Trying over 45 foods and drinks at Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

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Mardi Gras festivities are officially in full swing at Universal Studios Florida! Like many-theme park happenings in the past year, this annual event looked a bit different from its previous renditions – most notably, the absence of concerts and parades. To make up for this major shift in plans, Universal decided to turn the purple, gold, and green spotlights onto a different facet of Mardi Gras offerings: the food! International Flavors of Carnaval, which is included in standard park admission, celebrates culinary creations in a much grander and widespread way than what is typically seen at Universal’s Mardi Gras, boasting over 70 dishes and drinks from 13 different countries around the world (for even more on these, please see our complete guide).

Naturally, as both food-lovers and Mardi Gras enthusiasts, we arrived bright and early on the first day of the event and made it our mission to try almost everything there. To say it was a foodie’s dream-come-true would be an understatement. Now, you can follow along as we share our thoughts on each bite and beverage that we encountered on our tasting adventure around the globe.

Review and photos of New Orleans food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The New Orleans booths at Mardi Gras 2021 have two locations: Music Plaza (in Production Central, near Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket) and Battery Park (on the lagoon, across from Transformers: The Ride – 3D).

Jambalaya

Jambalaya from New Orleans

Price: $5.99
Our rating: 8/10

A flavorful combination of mixed rice, andouille sausage, and bright red crawfish makes for a dish that is almost as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the taste buds. We all agreed that the shrimp was the tastiest part!

Etoufee

Etoufee from New Orleans

Price: $5.49
Our rating: 6/10

This item was exactly what you’d expect out of a traditional New Orleans etoufee. The creamy sauce paired pleasantly with the white rice and andouille sausage, making for a satisfying-yet-pretty-standard dish.

Muffaletta Sandwich

Muffaletta Sandwich from New Orleans

Price: $13.49
Our rating: 9/10

We loved this sandwich! The blend of Big Easy-style charcuterie inside was full of flavor, and the bun was toasted to perfection. The chips were also surprisingly scrumptious – we only wish it came with more.

Shrimp Gumbo

Price: $5.49
Our rating: 6/10

While checking all the boxes for a typical shrimp gumbo, this one didn’t quite stand out to us among some of the bolder-tasting options. It was a yummy-yet-simple sample of classic New Orleans cuisine.

Crawfish & Shrimp Boil

Crawfish Boil from New Orleans

Price: $12.99
Our rating: 8/10

This beautifully presented platter gave us every staple of the ideal bayou boil – tasty crawfish, buttery corn, and soft potatoes, all sprinkled with Cajun goodness. For us seafood-lovers, this menu option was mouthwatering; however, we wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is not a big fan of shellfish, as the flavor is very strong.

Beignets

A beignet from New Orleans

Price: $5.99
Our rating: 10/10

We give these littles bites of heaven a top score because they are no less than perfection. Something about that decadent powdered sugar atop pillowy, fried dough just keeps us coming back for more. A must-have NOLA treat!

Bloody Mary

Wild Bloody Mary from New Orleans

Price: $7.00 (9 oz.), $18.00 (24 oz.)
Our rating: 9/10

If you enjoy a good Bloody Mary, you’ll be more than satisfied with one of these bad boys. The larger size includes some crazy Cajun toppings, such as bacon and shrimp! You can also choose between “Wild” and “Mild,” which is with or without spice, respectively. We prefer our Bloody Marys to be spicy, so we ordered the “Wild” version – and were impressed with the kick!

Tropical Storm Punch

Tropical Storm Punch from New Orleans

Price: $6.00
Our rating: 7/10

This sweet and fruity cocktail packed just enough punch to taste the rum, but not so much that it was overbearing. The passionfruit taste was more prominent than any other flavor, and we found it quite easy to drink.

King Cake Milk Punch

King Cake Milk Punch from New Orleans

Price: $6.00
Our rating: 8/10

Lightly topped with green and purple sprinkles, this cute little drink offered a very interesting flavor that is hard to put into words. Milky and somewhat sweet with a twist that is comparable to eggnog, it can only be described as sipping on spiked King Cake. Definitely an interesting concoction that is worth a try!

Abita Purple Haze

Abita Purple Haze from New Orleans

Price: $5.00
Our rating: 9/10

This may have been our favorite beer of the day! With a light and refreshing taste, it was super easy to sip on and paired nicely with the Cajun-dusted foods we were sampling alongside it. The touch of raspberry is what made it exceptionally delicious – if you’re a fan of fruity beers, you’ll definitely want to try this one.

Review and photos of Bahamas food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Bahamas booths at Mardi Gras 2021 are located in the World Expo area of the park (near Fear Factor Live and Men in Black Alien Attack).

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken from the Bahamas

Price: $7.99
Our rating: 8/10

Warning: this dish is hot! The chicken itself was quite standard, complemented by the sweetness of pineapple chunks. Of course, the scotch bonnet salsa (made from a type of chili pepper) is what sets it on fire. Some members of our team found it a bit too spicy for their taste, but heat-lovers will want to try it.

Jerk Jackfruit

Jerk Jackfruit from the Bahamas

Price: $7.49
Our rating: 8/10

This plate was essentially the vegetarian version of the jerk chicken, and the jackfruit did not disappoint as a substitute. Again, this dish packed some heat – if you’re sensitive to spicy foods, you might want to skip it.

Review and photos of Belgium food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Belgium booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in the Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone area of the park (near Animal Actors on Location).

Belgium Liege Waffles

Belgium Liege Waffles from Belgium

Price: $4.49
Our rating: 7/10

These waffles were exactly as sweet and sugary as they look. They weren’t quite as soft or fluffy as we imagined they might be, but they made for a yummy treat, nonetheless.

Brussels Frites with Roasted Garlic Veganaise

Brussels Frites with Roasted Garlic Veganaise from Belgium

Price: $3.99
Our rating: 4/10

Although pleasantly crispy and an interesting vegan option, we felt that this snack was a tiny bit plain for our taste.

Lindemans Strawberry Lambic

Lindemans Strawberry Lambic from Belgium

Price: $9.00
Our rating: 9/10

The fruity-beer lovers among us rejoiced at the taste of this gem! We enjoyed the sweet strawberry twist on an otherwise tart ale. If you enjoy sours, this one is worth a try.

Review and photos of Brazil food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Brazil booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone (near Animal Actors on Location).

Brigadeiros

Brigadeiros from Brazil

Price: $4.49
Our rating: 10/10

Not only were these little treats presented beautifully (one of them is encrusted in candy jewels!), but they also tasted divine. We loved the sprinkled outer texture combined with the creamy fudge inside. Chocolate-lovers will not want to miss out.

Strawberry Pineapple Caipirinha Punch

Strawberry Pineapple Caipirinha Punch from Brazil

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 9/10

Although a little on the sweet side, our team described this fruity cocktail as tropical paradise in a cup. The blended flavors of pineapple and strawberry made for a succulent sipping experience.

Review and photos of Canada food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Canada booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone (near E.T. Adventure and SpongeBob StorePants).

Beef Short Rib Poutine

Beef Short Rib Poutine from Canada

Price: $7.99
Our rating: 8/10

Fans of brisket will enjoy the savory flavors that this dish brings. While we felt that the fries were on the soggy side, the scrumptious cheese curds made up for it!

Maple Doughnut

Maple Doughnut from Canada

Price: $6.49
Our rating: 5/10

This pastry was not exactly what we expected – it doesn’t take on the form or taste of a traditional donut. And while we enjoyed the light and flaky consistency of it, we found the maple flavor to be a bit lacking.

Sugar Shack Springtime Punch

Sugar Shack Springtime Punch from Canada

Price: $5.00
Our rating: 8/10

We found this beverage to be a unique and enjoyable pairing of sweet flavors. Even those of us who aren’t fans of whiskey rated this drink as one of their favorites! The pear juice overrides the other components to make for a smooth and refreshing mix.

Review and photos of Colombia food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Colombia booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in a food truck in the New York area of the park (across from the extended queue for Transformers: The Ride – 3D).

Carnitas Arepas

Carnitas Arepas and Coco Loco from Colombia

Price: $9.25
Our rating: 8/10

There is plenty of flavor to be found in these arepas, and the addition of avocado was the perfect finishing touch. For our tastes, the corn meal cake was a little dry, but it didn’t take away from the overall tastiness of the dish.

Coco Loco

Price: $5.00
Our rating: 10/10

We loved this little tropical drink! The energetic flavor of lime blended wonderfully with the sweetness of coconut, and the tequila and rum made for a nice kick. A few sips of this one had us longing for blue water and palm trees.

Review and photos of Cuba food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Cuba booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in a food truck in the San Francisco area of the park (across from the Fast & Furious – Supercharged gift shop).

Cuban Sandwich

Cuban Sandwich from Cuba

Price: $13.49
Our rating: 9/10

Although a little smaller than expected, this dish delivered big flavor. We appreciated the side of plantain chips, and our favorite feature of the sandwich was the tasty Cuban bread.

Cuban Flan

Cuban Flan from Cuba

Price: $4.49
Our rating: 6/10

This cute dessert had an attractive presentation, and a sweet-yet-understated flavor. While we enjoyed the caramel glaze, we found the flan itself to be nothing out of the ordinary.

Cuban Coffee

Price: $3.49
Our rating: 7/10

Don’t be fooled by the tiny serving size – this little drink is packed with caffeine! We thought this beverage offered an unexpectedly sugary flavor, along with a notable burst of energy.

Review and photos of France food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The France booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in the Hollywood area of the park (across from Mel’s Drive-In and Cafe La Bamba).

Poached Pear Crème Brulee Crepe

Poached Pear Crème Brulee Crepe from France

Price: $8.99
Our rating: 3/10

Although we absolutely love Universal’s iconic crepes, we can’t say we were huge fans of this seasonal addition. While the pear chunks and vanilla cream paired very nicely, the smoky flavor of the crepe itself seemed to clash with its sweet filling. If you enjoy trying adventurous combinations, however, you might take more of a liking to this item.

Review and photos of Germany food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Germany booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in San Francisco, just before The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.

Vegan Bratwurst with Beer-braised Onions

Vegan Bratwurst with Beer Braised Onions from Germany

Price: $8.99
Our rating: 9/10

Now this is a vegan option that everyone should try! We loved this twist on traditional German cuisine and felt that the beer-braised onions and spicy mustard really brought it to life.

Bavarian Pretzel

Bavarian Pretzel from Germany

Price: $8.49
Our rating: 7/10

This pretzel was a nice snack to complement the rest of our German samplings. Although pleasantly different from typical theme-park fare, it did’t particularly stand out as a must-try. That being said, the spicy mustard cheese sauce got two thumbs up!

Pork Schnitzel Slider

Pork Schnitzel Slider from Germany

Price: $8.49
Our rating: 8/10

The presentation of this item is fabulous, and it received generally good reviews from our team. While the pork cutlet is slightly plain in flavor, the pretzel bun and gruyere cheese are nice touches.

Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen Rauchbier

Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen Rauchbier

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 9/10

We found this lager to be creamy, with a strong and full flavor, while – at the same time – not being too heavy. It’s great for those who enjoy bold and dark beers; however, it may not appeal to those who prefer a crisper taste.

Review and photos of Italy food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Italy booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in the New York area of the park (across from Louie’s Italian Restaurant).

Arancini

Arancini from Italy

Price: $5.99
Our ranking: 10/10

We thought this dish was totally mouthwatering and something that we would definitely want to order again. It encompasses everything we love about Italian food, including the cheese, the sauce, and the delicious truffle flavor. The crispy outside was a delicious contrast to the creamy inside.

Fantinel

Fantinel from Italy

Price: $6.00
Our rating: 8/10

This prosecco gave off a fruity essence, bubbling with apple and pear aromas. With hints of minerals and a medium finish, we found it to be a solid sparkling wine overall.

Review and photos of Puerto Rico food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Puerto Rico booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in San Francisco (across from the Fast & Furious – Supercharged gift shop).

Pernil & Mofongo

Pernil & Mofongo from Puerto Rico

Price: $5.99
Our rating: 7/10

This traditional Puerto Rican dish proved to be flavorful but not especially memorable. We thought the smashed plantains added a pleasant hint of sweetness to the otherwise savory taste, though.

Picadillo Empanada

Picadillo Empanada from Puerto Rico

Price: $6.99
Our rating: 9/10

There’s nothing we love more than a good empanada, and this one delivered! The pastry dough was perfectly flaky, and the beef inside was bursting with bold flavor.

Quesito

Quesito from Puerto Rico

Price: $3.99
Our rating: 10/10

We had high expectations for this pastry, and we were not disappointed. The exotic combination of guava and cream cheese makes for an irresistibly delightful treat.

Piña Verde

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 7/10

This twist on the classic piña colada was pleasantly fruity and sweet, with a touch of herbal spice. We did find it enjoyable to sip on, but it wasn’t one of our top picks of the day.

Review and photos of Spain food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Spain booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in Hollywood (across from Mel’s Drive-In, on the patio of Cafe La Bamba).

Paella Mixta

Paella Mixta from Spain

Price: $5.99
Our rating: 8/10

We were pleasantly surprised at the tastiness of this dish. The rice was full of flavor, and the seafood was of higher quality than what you’d expect from typical theme-park offerings.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie from Spain

Price: $6.99
Our rating: 9/10

We have some serious cheese-lovers on our team, and this selection was up to par with their standards! The cheeses seemed to outshine the meats, but the addition of grapes, crackers, and olives made for fun and palate-pleasing combinations.

Leche Frita

Leche Frita from Spain

Price: $5.49
Our rating: 6/10

We didn’t know how we’d feel about this treat, but it proved to be more enjoyable than originally assumed. This fried, cinnamon-dusted creation tasted quite similar to a churro in our opinion; however, we thought it could have benefited from a bit more flavor all around.

Pinord “La Dama” Cava

Four wine selections from Spain

Price: $5.00
Our rating: 8/10

This sparkling wine had hints of apples and pears with light floral notes. Slightly sweet and light-bodied, this selection will satisfy those who prefer a crisp wine.

Don Olegurio Albarino

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 7/10

We found this white wine to be more on the dry side, and it paired delightfully with the seafood paella. It had flavors of flowers, fruits, and minerals that were pleasant but not standout.

Hacienda de Arinzano Rosé

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 7/10

With notes of strawberries and citrus, this rosé had a creamy mouth-feel with a somewhat peppery finish. While rosé isn’t our team’s cup of tea (wine?), we recommend it those who are bigger fans of rosy flavors.

Hazaña Viñas Viejas Rioja

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 9/10

This was our favorite of the four wines Spain had to offer! This classic red blend was served chilled and had a deliciously full-bodied taste swirling with fruity and earthy aromas. Although rich, it was smooth on the palate.

Review and photos of Trinidad & Tobago food and drinks at Mardi Gras 2021: International Flavors of Carnaval

The Trinidad & Tobago booth at Mardi Gras 2021 is located in the New York area of the park (across from the Mardi Gras Tribute Store).

Pholourie

Pholourie from Trinidad & Tobago

Price: $5.99
Our rating: 6/10

We found these simple, fried spheres to be a bit bland on their own. However, the spicy tamarind chutney definitely brought them up a notch and made for a yummy pairing.

Pineapple Trini Chow

Pineapple Trini Chow from Trinidad & Tobago

Price: $4.29
Our rating: 9/10

We weren’t sure what to expect out of these grilled pineapple skewers, but they ended up delivering a surprisingly delicious taste experience. This dish was juicy, full of flavor, and had just the right touch of spice.

Queen’s Park Swizzle

Queen’s Park Swizzle

Price: $7.00
Our rating: 2/10

While we adored the gorgeous presentation of this drink, we weren’t huge fans of the taste – the Angostura bitters are quite strong, which outshine the otherwise limey flavor. If you’re a fan of cinnamon, however, you may have a different opinion!


All in all, we had a fantastic experience at Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval, and it’s safe to say that our day concluded with full bellies and smiling faces. We can’t wait to go back and indulge in our favorites again and again!

Are you ready to embark on your own tasting journey around the world? Which bites and beverages are you most excited to try? Be sure to share your foodie bucket list in our Orlando Informer Community on Facebook – and follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to feast on the latest announcements and updates.

Do you have a question about the information on this page, would like to provide feedback, or did you spot an inaccuracy? Join us in our Orlando Informer Community Facebook group, and let’s talk about it!

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About Xandra Hardigree

Having grown up with Universal and Disney in her backyard, Xandra developed her love for theme parks at a very young age and has regarded them as her second home ever since. While gaining work experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, she realized her passion for using social media to share her adventures with the world. Today, she continues pursuing her career in both writing and creating digital content based on Orlando’s thrills. Her hobbies include yoga, photography, playing tourist in her own city, and obsessing over Halloween Horror Nights.

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