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Can many things go wrong at a dining experience and you leave feeling like you not only had a wonderful time but you want to go back? Can you look back fondly on an experience at a sports bar where all your favorite teams lost and they forgot one of your orders and you still smile remembering the experience?
A couple of months ago, I would have said no. But after the experience I had at the NBC Sports Grill & Brew at the Universal Orlando Resort, I am singing a different tune.
So this was not my family’s first time at this restaurant. Regular readers of this blog will know that my family is definitely a sports family. We love multiple sports and really enjoy watching sports together as a family. We were visiting Universal Orlando on an NFL Sunday, so we thought it might be fun to go to NBC Sports Grill and Brew to see the games.
NBC Sports Grill and Brew is located over at Universal CityWalk. That is the area of restaurants, shops, and other entertainment you walk through before you get to Universal’s theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. A neat thing about CityWalk is that you can visit anywhere at CityWalk without having park admission. That makes visiting here on your first or last day or a trip really appealing because you’ll save money on a tickets (by the way, if you want to save more money on Universal tickets, purchase your tickets here because they sell Universal tickets at a discounted price).
NBC Sports Grill & Brew Reservations
So, back to our experience. We weren’t sure we’d be able to get a table since obviously, the NFL is very popular. But we were able to get a reservation for 2:00 PM. So if you are able to get a reservation, I would say get one to ensure a table.
We were staying over at Surfside Inn and Suites, so we were able to take a bus over and get there in time for our reservation. That is one thing I like about the Universal Orlando hotels; their buses tend to run on a great schedule so you don’t have to sweat making your reservations (though I wouldn’t push it and would allow my time to get to the restaurant).
NBC Sports Grill & Brew Layout & Atmosphere
The first time we ate here we were seated on the first floor. This time, we were on the second floor. It is an accessible second floor by the way as they have an elevator.
Being seated on the second floor really gives you a good appreciation for how big the restaurant is. You can see the both floors from the second floor. So in some ways I liked the second floor better.
You got to see a lot of TVs from there.
Although there really isn’t a bad seat in the restaurant. There are so many TVs around the restaurant. My dad even jokingly called the place the “grandaddy of the sports bars”. Basically, he (and we) could not think of a better sports bar we had ever been to. It reminded me a bit of ESPN Zone at Times Square, a restaurant I really loved going to that I wish was still open.
Not only could we see all the TVs, I could even see them prepare the food from where I was sitting!
You can also see them cook when you’re sitting downstairs, too, depending on your table.
I also got a good view of some of the great decor around the restaurant. For example, since NBC has the Olympics, there were a lot of great Olympics posters up.
NBC Sports Grill & Brew Service
So the service was really where it went wrong.
First of all, the service was slow. Incredibly slow. But that alone wouldn’t have hurt the experience. After all, when you are watching a game, you don’t want to be rushed, right? You’re in no hurry. So the slow service can be a good thing. It can mean you’ll get to enjoy the game longer.
But it wasn’t just slow service. They literally just forgot to make one of our orders. They weren’t particularly apologetic about it.
But on the plus side – when finally we got all the food – it was delicious. Which brings me to the food.
NBC Sports Grill & Brew Food
So NBC Sports Grill & Brew has a surprisingly good menu with a nice mix of a lot of food. Why I was surprised is that sometimes with sports bars, they know people are mostly going to watch games so they wouldn’t have to focus on food as much as other restaurants.
But there are a lot of good options. They have lots of great sandwiches. Our favorite is the French Dip Sandwich.
Though our favorite thing at the restaurant is the burgers. And by the way, I love that with burgers and sandwiches you can get your choice of Tater Tots or French Fries. I am a big fan of Tator Tots, and these Tator Tots were really good.
But back to the burgers.
What I really love about the burgers is that you can customize them with your choice of cheese. And the burger itself was so delicious. Like the kind of burger where you get disappointed when you get to the last bite that it’s over. The meat was really good.
So once again, this could have been a bad experience. The games did not go the way I wanted. The service was slow and worse, they didn’t even bring out one of our orders!
But it was still a good experience for two reasons. One, the food was really good when it did come. And it’s better to have good food late than bad food right on time.
And secondly, the atmosphere and layout of the restaurant are so great that if you are a sports fan, it’s hard not to have fun.
So my recommendation is that if you are a sports fan, definitely come. If you are not a sports fan, you may still like the food. But I would say come at a less busy time, like say not on an NFL Sunday. When I visited on a weeknight the time before I went, I had no problem with the service.
Visiting the Universal Orlando Resort
So if you are reading this blog entry, it probably means one of two things. One, you are already at the Universal Orlando Resort and are looking for a place to eat. Or two, you are planning a trip to the Universal Orlando Resort.
And if that is the case, we suggest you go here to purchase your Universal Orlando tickets. You’ll be able to get them at a discounted price.
If you would like to book your tickets and hotel together, then you can build your own Universal Orlando vacation package here.