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  • Writer's pictureGotta Go Orlando

Eat your way around the Global Carnaval Celebrations at Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras 2023

Get ready to party as the Big Easy makes its way to Universal Orlando Resort for this year's Mardi Gras celebrations that sees Universal Studios Florida transformed into the biggest party this side of the Bayou.

Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval will run from from February 4, 2023, through April 16, 2023, and this year's mouthwatering food dishes are inspired by global Carnaval celebrations—representing 17 different countries across 70 unique menu items.


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval

So, let’s get this party started. Here’s a roundup of some of the top foods for Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval, stomach, don’t fail us now!


Mofongo Trio Flight

Inspired by Carnaval Ponceño in Puerto Rico, this iconic dish is presented in three delectable servings. The base for each is a traditional mix of smashed green plantains, bacon, garlic, and chicharrones and topped three different ways: traditional, shrimp criolla, and crispy chicken chicharron with mayo ketchup drizzle. My favorite was the shrimp criolla topped one because of the extra kick from the Creole spices.


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Pav Bhaji* (pronounced pav baa-jee)

Don’t let the name intimidate you. This popular Indian street food is a thick, vegetable stew with a medley of veggies and spices including potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, ginger and garlic with a buttery-toasted Hawaiian roll on the side. It definitely made me feel like this is one of those “like my mama used to make” comfort foods. I could feel the love in every bite. And a little tip: skip the spoon and use the bread to dip in the stew and let the warmth and fragrant spices delight your senses.

*Vegetarian


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Baja Shrimp Ceviche Tostada


This light and refreshing Mexican dish features citrus-blend marinated shrimp topped with avocado crema, chopped jalapeño (not spicy), cotija cheese, shaved red onion and micro cilantro on a crispy blue tortilla. The crunch factor combined with the fresh and citrusy ingredients was such an unexpected delight.


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Dirty Cauliflower Rice*

A vegan twist on the traditional New Orleans staple, this comfort food is a blend of cauliflower rice, black-eyed peas, meatless sausage crumbles, the holy trinity mix of celery, onions, and green bell peppers and authentic Cajun spices. I loved the heartiness and variety of textures in this dish.

*Vegan


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Rod Polse

There are so many new countries represented in this year’s food lineup and Denmark is one of them. In addition to Frikadeller meatballs served in a Danish gravy and topped with apple butter, the menu also includes Rod Polse, a chef’s favorite. This Danish red, skin-on hot dog is topped with curry remoulade, pickled cucumber, crispy onions and fresh dill and served on a toasted top-split bun. This is not your average ballpark hot dog. It’s milder in flavor and the toppings have a tanginess to them that leaves you wanting more.


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Indonesian Purple Sticky Rice Pudding* (a.k.a. Bubur Ketan Hitam)


Beautiful and heavenly is how I would describe this dessert. Honestly, I could have eaten at least 2 if not 3 bowls… it was that good. Made with purple long-grain rice, sweetened condensed coconut milk, diced mango and shaved coconut, this is a light and delicious treat that will transport you to the shores of Indonesia with every spoonful.

*Vegan


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Vegan Churros*

When it comes to creating new menu items, the chefs at Universal Orlando Resort find inspiration from everywhere, including suggestions from Passholders, guests and Team Members. The vegan churros are a direct result of listening to guests’ dietary needs and desire to enjoy this sought-after treat.

These pint-sized churros are coated in cinnamon-sugar and come with two dipping sauces: chocolate and coconut agave nectar. I’m really hoping these find their way into the parks year-round. ¡Delicioso!

*Vegan


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Brigadeiros (pronounced bri-ga-DAY-ros)


The best way I can describe this classic Brazilian dessert is a trio of chocolate fudge bombs. They’re little bites of confectionary heaven made with sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter (of course) and rolled in either hazelnuts, chocolate sprinkles or Mardi Gras color sprinkles. And yes, they are too good to share (sorry, not sorry).


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Liège Waffle


Couldn’t wrap up the dessert section without giving some love to the Liège Waffle, from Belgium. The dough is fluffy, the strawberries are fresh, the whipped cream is so creamy. Make sure to take a bite with all the layers.


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval


Even More Places to Sample Mardi Gras Eats

The Mardi Gras flavors are going beyond the gates of Universal Studios Florida, allowing even more guests to experience the International Flavors of Carnaval.


In Universal CityWalk, themed kiosks will feature Tastes of the Mediterranean (Greece and France, and Belgium — the Liège Waffle is fantastic!), Tastes of the Islands and the Best of New Orleans.


Near the Port of Entry in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, guests can revel in authentic New Orleans cuisine including shrimp gumbo, jambalaya, beignets and King Cake.

And next door at Universal’s Volcano Bay, Muffuletta Long Board Pizza is on deck.


Universal Orlando Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval



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