When SUPER NINTENDO WORLD first opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, I knew right away how my first visit would go: I’d thoroughly explore the entirely themed, immersive land, experience the theme park’s game-changer attraction Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, and shop til I dropped for the collectable-worthy merchandise.
But, once I got there, my heart was instantly set on the menu of the restaurant that sits in the heart of the Mushroom Kingdom.
At Toadstool Cafe, run by Chef Toad, “everything on the menu either has mushrooms, looks like a mushroom, has the flavor profile of a mushroom or is a nod to the Mushroom Kingdom,” says Chef Julia Thrash, Universal Studios Hollywood’s executive chef.
Here are my favorite dishes and what I consider to be a perfect SUPER NINTENDO WORLD meal — and you can trust me, I’ve tried every single item on the Toadstool Cafe menu.
And while you’re here, check out our guide to SUPER NINTENDO WORLD at Universal Studios Hollywood.
I know this isn’t technically a starter, but it’s the best way to kick off your meal at Toadstool Cafe: the Super Star Lemon Squash, a honey lemon soda with tropical bobas topped with tiny, mango-flavored Super Stars. You’re likely to spot this beverage on most tables around the restaurant — not only is it super fun to drink, it’s delicious (honestly, just go ahead and order two). You can also get regular sodas in a cool sipper — Super Mushroom or 1-UP Mushroom, take your pick!
Ok, ready for some food?
My go-to appetizer is Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots, mini-mushroom-shaped knots brushed with garlic butter and parmesan cheese, which you should (double) dip into the marinara sauce that comes on the side. This was my first time trying mushroom-shaped knots, and I was be delighted by how fluffy they are.
Next, make sure you get the creamy Super Mushroom Soup, served with truffle oil and tiny Super Mushroom crackers on top. Full disclosure? This is my absolute favorite dish on the Toadstool Cafe menu. The soup is flavorful, creamy, and has mushrooms chopped up into little pieces. And although I usually order it as a starter before my entrée, it can totally be a full meal too. And the best part? It comes in an awesome Super Mushroom bowl which you can take home.
If you’re not big on mushrooms but love soup, the vegan Tomato Soup, with truffle oil and basil, is creamy, rich, and also comes in a Super Mushroom bowl.
You’re off to a perfect start at Toadstool Cafe: you’ve got your fun drink, your fluffy knots and creamy soup (or soups, plural, if you’re feeling ambitious). And nothing follows that flawless intro quite like a salad. Which one? Well, that’s a hard pick, so I’ll leave it up to you.
Yoshi’s Favorite Fruit & Veggie Salad has mixed greens, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and star fruit. It’s topped with raspberry vinaigrette and Yoshi egg croutons. A great choice for those who love that sweet + savory juxtaposition.
Or you could order the Piranha Plant Caprese, mixed greens, shaved radish, and apple vinaigrette. You’ll recognize the nod to the Mushroom Kingdom immediately: the tomato sliced in half with fresh mozzarella dots and an asparagus for a stem form a Piranha Plant!
Finally, the Super Star Chicken Salad. An equally delicious option, it’s a mix of romaine, cabbage, grape tomatoes, and mushrooms tossed in creamy truffle dressing and topped with parmesan Super Star croutons and grilled chicken. A full meal right there for ya!
Assuming you’re keeping up with our tour de food, we’re ready for the main course.
I’m a burger person through and through, and my personal favorite on the Toadstool Cafe menu is the pesto-grilled-chicken Luigi Burger. It comes with a thick slice of crunchy green pepper right in the middle (truly, what a genius addition!) and is served on a brioche bun with a side of truffle fries (yes, truffle fries — pretty elevated cuisine, if you ask me).
Now, you might be wondering, “Can I just get a regular burger at Toadstool Cafe?” While you can get a burger, it’s far from your traditional bun + patty. The Mario Burger is an all-beef patty, topped with bacon, mushrooms, lettuce, tomato and cheese, also served on a brioche bun with a side of those awesome truffle fries. Oh, and see that Mario or Luigi hat-shaped pick in your burger? They’re yours to take home!
PRO TIP: You can swap your patty for a vegetarian option!
If you like sticking with the classics even when on vacation, then you won’t want to miss the spicy Fire Flower Spaghetti & Meatballs. The name says everything you need to know, except that the marinara sauce comes with, you guessed it, mushrooms. And an adorable Fire Flower parmesan crisp!
For you meat-lovers out there: the next couple of dishes should be right up your alley.
The braised short rib in the Chef Toad Short Rib Special is tender and juicy and sits on top of a creamy goat cheese polenta and red wine reduction. It’s one of the most delicious items on the Toadstool Cafe menu.
And if you’re feeling brave, Bowser’s Fireball Challenge is the way to go at Toadstool Cafe. Whether or not you’ve already faced the Key Challenges around SUPER NINTENDO WORLD or braved Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, this is a challenge you shouldn’t miss. This one-pound meatball is topped with mozzarella cheese and served with mushroom marinara sauce and a Bowser-themed puff pastry. It’s called a challenge for two reasons: 1. Well, it is a one-pound meatball, and 2. It’s hot (I mean, hotttt). But I believe in you! You can also purchase the awesome Toadstool Cafe platewear sets.
PRO TIP: Save a couple of the garlic knots you ordered as a starter so you can dip ‘em in the marinara sauce!
The Kids’ Menu
Honestly, how cute are these? The Mario Mini Burger Adventure Set is a combo with cheeseburger, truffle french fries, corn on the cob surrounded by broccoli florets (made to look like the flagpole in the Super Mario video games!).
The Power-Up Spaghetti Marinara is a classic spaghetti with marinara sauce topped with three Power-Up parmesan crisps and a Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knot on the side. It also comes with a ? Block surprise treat.
I should’ve led with this section, as the desserts on the Toadstool Cafe menu are probably the most well-themed food items I’ve ever seen. I wish I could tell you which one is my favorite, but that proved to be an impossible task, so do yourself a favor and order all three options.
Let’s start with the ? Block Tiramisu. “There’s two ways to eat this dessert: you can either eat it with a spoon or take the cookie off and use the cookie to scoop, which is how I do it,” says Chef Julia. I’d argue it’s the only way to do it, as it makes the whole experience that more delicious! The tiramisu comes inside a shortbread cookie ? Block and is layered with coffee-soaked lady fingers, sprinkled with cocoa powder and topped with a themed white chocolate detail.
Does the Mt. Beanpole Cake look familiar? “All of Chef Toad’s inspiration came from the Mushroom Kingdom, so this dessert is meant to represent the landscape of the land, the many tiers of Mt. Beanpole,” says Chef Julia. It’s delicious. Make sure you get a scoop with all the layers of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry cake, as well as the matcha mousse on top.
The Instagrammable and delectable Princess Peach Cupcake, an homage to Princess Peach, is a raspberry filled funfetti cupcake, with buttercream frosting and a Princess Peach chocolate crown. Just the right amount of sweetness.
The immersion doesn’t end with the food at Toadstool Cafe. There are windows around the restaurant that give you a sneak peek into Chef Toad’s kitchen, where busy Toads prep your food. While you enjoy your meal, you can also look out to the Mushroom Kingdom, where Toads are out and about, being busy through their day.
“Many of our guests grew up playing Super Mario video games, so for them to see that world come to life in food format is pretty special,” says Chef Julia, the right-hand to Chef Toad. “If they leave Toadstool Cafe feeling happy and fulfilled, then we’ve succeeded.”
What was your favorite dish at Toadstool Cafe? Share with us on social media or in the comments below!