Location: The Lost Continent (at Universal's Islands of Adventure)
When Universal’s Islands of Adventure opened in 1999, the park represented a wild diversion from anything Universal had done before. Forget movies, studios, or behind-the-scenes. This literary theme park thrust guests into stories, including the mythological Lost Legend: The Lost Continent – a now-fractured original “island” based in Greek and Roman stories. One of its three realms, the Lost City, is one of the most beautiful lands ever designed for a theme park. Built around the towering ruins of the Declassified Disaster: Poseidon’s Fury, the land’s coolest feature might be Mythos, a restaurant concealed within an ancient, eroded mountain.
Inside, Mythos is true wonder with its sea-carved cavern, gushing fissures and ancient carved sealife, and its floor-to-ceiling windows providing unparalleled views to a weathered terrace where Atlas himself supports the mountain on his shoulders and the Great Sea beyond. Dining in Mythos may not strictly be as story-centered as other restaurants on this list, but the physical place is so strong that it makes Mythos feel like a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Menu Must-trys: When the park opened, Mythos was its fine-dining anchor, offering elaborate seafood meals so sought-after, guests could make reservations at Mythos without purchasing park admission. Over the years, Universal’s backed off its Disney-esque full service restaurants, transforming Mythos’ menu into a pleasant and reasonably priced collection of pasta, pad thai, salads, and sandwiches. Though Mythos isn't as pricey or high-class as it used to be, it just means this unforgettable dining locale is available for all.
5. Satu’li Canteen
Location: Pandora - The World of Avatar (at Disney's Animal Kingdom)
Unlike Hogsmeade and Radiator Springs which recreate known-and-loved locales from films brick-for-brick, Pandora - The World of Avatar instead invented an entirely original, Imagineer-made place - the Valley of Mo’ara - with a rich mythology all its own. The idea is that guests are eco-tourists visiting the distant moon of Pandora long after the forgotten events of Avatar, learning from the culture, customs, and cuisine of the native Na’vi people.
That story is very evident in the land’s quick service eatery, Satu’li Canteen. It’s set in a long-abandoned quonset hut that once served as the militaristic mess hall for invading humans. Now, however, the kitchen has been repurposed as a cultural arts showcase of the native Na'vi and to serve hungry (and respectful) travelers like us, offering the “tastes of home” (that is, Earth) with a Pandoran twist.
Menu Must-try: The Canteen’s signature dishes are customizable rice bowls of grilled meats or tofu, bright veggies, sauces, and slaw with “alien” boba bubbles, but the snack that got people talking when it opened was a kid’s menu exclusive: cheeseburger pods! A cleverly “exotic” take on the kids’ classic, the steamed bao buns hold ground beef, cheddar cheese, ketchup, mustard, and a pickle stuffed inside, looking delightfully alien but tasking familiar… and somehow, it manages to fit comfortably in the narrative without breaking the story!