When you enter this year’s Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios Florida, you are certain to hear ominous, foreboding sounds, blood-curdling screams and me at every food cart saying “Trick or treat. Plants or meat. Give me something good to eat.”
The food and drink offerings are scary good and just might be bewitching enough to get me to go through a haunted house or two without peeing my pants (no promises though).
From meaty appetizers and vegan specialties to savory snacks and terrifying treats, your scream squad will have plenty of options to feed your fear with these top foods.
SPOOKTACULAR VEGAN BITES
Oh, my gourd! Chefs Christian Markussen and Chris Colón continue to make me a believer in vegan cuisine. For Halloween Horror Nights 31, they expanded the meatless options and focused on developing menu items that — first and foremost — taste amazing and secondly, look so good you must try them.
Fried Zombie Brains (Sting Alley behind Starbucks)
Vegan tempura battered cauliflower florets tossed in spicy gochujang (go-chew-jang) sauce and garnished with toasted sesame seeds and scallions. Grab extra forks for this shareable appetizer.
African Lentil & Potato Sambusa Coffin (Gramercy Park)
This was my favorite vegan dish — reminded me of a lighter version of the pasty meat pies I grew up eating in Michigan. A filling and flavorful mixture of African lentils, carrots, onion, garlic, and potato sambusa tossed in an Ethiopian spice blend and entombed in a light and flaky vegan pie dough coffin.
Lil’ Boo’s Spicy Pumpkin Bun (San Francisco Food Cart)
Lil’ Boo inspired this adorable dish and is sure to be a fan favorite. An orange steamed bao bun filled with a vegetarian, spicy butternut squash.
Roasted Sweet Potato & Mushroom Street Tacos (La Bamba Courtyard)
Roasted sweet potatoes and mushrooms topped with vegan crumbled cheese, red onions, and cilantro served with a vegan birria consommé for dipping.
DEADLY DELICIOUS DELIGHTS
Dark Alleys. Butcher shops. Blood-splattered aprons.
Welcome to Sting Alley — or as Chef Christian Markussen puts it the “pièce de résistance.” The idea for a “butcher shop” food venue was dreamt up one day while walking around Universal Studios Florida thinking of new ideas for this year’s event. Having just returned from opening Universal Beijing Resort, he recalled seeing the street stalls with butcher shops and the natural creepiness that comes from them. It was a perfect fit for HHN.
Spicy Fried Chicken “Offals” (Sting Alley behind Starbucks)
Don’t let the name fool you. These delectable chicken bites are the cousin to the Fried Zombie Brains. Crispy fried chicken thigh pieces, peanuts, and crunchy chili rings tossed in a spicy gochujang sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds and scallions, plus it’s a Chef favorite.
You’ll find other carnivore-approved eats around the park, including:
Pepperoni Pizza Skulls (Gramercy Park)
This dish reminded me of a grown-up version of pizza bites. Soft and chewy skull crust is stuffed with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese and nestled in a bowl of marinara. Eat with a knife and fork or go all in and bite the face off.
Maggot-Covered Cheese Dog (Bridge by Fear Factor)
Battered Korean-style all-beef hot dog on a stick layered with mozzarella cheese, rolled in puffed rice cereal and topped with gochujang drizzle and black sesame seeds. Note to self: get this before going through Bugs: Eaten Alive House!
Haunted Horseshoe (Gramercy Park)
This classic burger style out of Illinois is served open faced on garlic Texas toast with jalapeño bacon, spicy candied pork belly, crinkle cut fries and cheddar cheese sauce. Screams classic HHN food.
Witches Spell Cauldron Stew (Food Trailer in Music Plaza)
A hearty green chili and shredded chicken stew with hominy corn and beans topped with fresh crema and garnished with skeleton-shaped cornbread. This was a personal fave. It’s basically fall in a bowl.
SWEET REVENGE DESSERTS
Pastry Chef Cheryl Figueroa Rivera is back with her spellbinding sweets that are sure to make your sweet tooth tingle.
“Major Sweets” Ice Cream Sandwich (Gramercy Park)
How cute is this zombie candy corn? I could just eat him up… oh wait, I did. With two candy-corn sugar cookies filled with sweet corn ice cream, it’s an unexpected twist on a Halloween candy staple.
Coconut Yuzu Eyeball (TODAY Cafe)
This one-eyed dessert is filled with coconut mousse and Yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit in the center, and decorated with a prickly pear eye and hibiscus coulis for a refreshingly light treat.
Spoiled Angry Bear Meat (Sting Alley behind Starbucks)
Served on a cellophane-wrapped meat tray complete with an ingredient sticker, this sweet and salty treat is almost too believable to eat. A savory, crunchy and spicy white cheddar-flavored marshmallow treat.
Killer Stove Top Popcorn Custard (Gramercy Park)
It was hands down my favorite. Butter popcorn-infused custard with a layer of caramel on the bottom, topped with “blood-spattered” sweet kettle corn and served in a mini aluminum pie tin.
BOO’S AND BOOZE
Fall-flavored and fragrant beers plus signature cocktails are a plenty at themed bars around the park. Here are just some of the highlights:
- Pecan Pie Cider: this cider on draft is perfect pairing for desserts
- Lacto Kooler: a Berliner Weisse, sour beer in a fun, hologram-like can
- Whole Hog Pumpkin Ale: a returning favorite from last year. Infuses pumpkin pie spices, natural cinnamon, nutmeg, and real pumpkin
- Electric Death: Gin-based Tiki drink with Bols Blue Curaçao, lime juice, BR Reynolds Orgeat almond syrup, simple syrup, pineapple juice, and pimento bitters
- Burning Skull: Tequila-based drink with gran gala liquer, lime juice, simple syrup, mango nectar, pineapple juice, jalapeno and basil concentrate mixed with smoked chipotle pepper bitters and served in a skull-shaped souvenir cup
HUNGRY FOR MORE
No Halloween Horror Nights would be the same without returning favorites like Pizza Fries and Twisted Taters, but venture off the beaten path and try the new Halloween-themed food and beverage options at select venues in Universal CityWalk, including Voodoo Doughnut, Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, and Red Coconut Club (appropriately re-themed to Dead Coconut on event nights).
Or better yet, keep the screams going at one of the eight Universal Orlando Hotels. With even more Halloween-inspired specialty drinks and themed lounges, it’s the best way to experience the World’s Premier Halloween Event.
Halloween Horror Nights is happening on select nights September 2 – October 31. So, grab your scream squad and get ready to feed your fear night after night. Share your favorites in the comments below.
Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.