Food, Family, and Fun: Finnegan’s Bar & Grill in Universal Studios Florida

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There’s a certain feeling of comfort and camaraderie when you think of a pub. Sitting with your friends and family, bonding over good food and drinks, good conversation, good music, and friendly staff who treat you as if you’re part of their family. That’s what Finnegan’s Bar & Grill offers. It’s the Irish pub down the street where you can break away from the everyday and enjoy a good meal and a good time…in the middle of a theme park.

Finnegan’s is one of my favorite places in the
parks to grab a bite or mosey up to the bar for a drink. I naturally figured
everyone knew about Finnegan’s since it’s been here since the park opened.
However, during a lunch with a couple of Finnegan’s first-timers, I realized
that a lot of people don’t know about this wonderful gem of a restaurant.

That was my cue. I set out to learn everything I
could. The history. The people. The food. To find the scoop, I met with the
General Manager, Gerri Ferreira; the Assistant General Manager, Charaf Siraj;
and one of the well-known bartenders who’s been at Finnegan’s for over 12
years, Jan Bernhard. What I learned was Finnegan’s is one of the last O.G.s
from when the park first opened, with delicious food that can only be topped by
the incredible service and friendliness of the staff.

The History

A brief history lesson for you: Finnegan’s Bar & Grill opened back in 1990 with the opening of Universal Studios Florida and found its home in the New York area across from Revenge of the Mummy. If you’re not looking closely enough, you may mistake it as another one of the store facades — it’s that well themed to the area.

“When I first started here, none of the rides or
other shops were here,” says Jan. “Everything was facade and people would come
in and not realize we’re an actual bar. It was crazy!”

Another fun fact I discovered was that Finnegan’s
is inspired by the 1978 film “The Brinks Job” based on the Brink’s robbery of
1950. Finnegan’s was the restaurant where they planned the heist. So nifty.

The Food & Drinks

One thing I found intriguing about Finnegan’s is the menu has stayed true to the classics since it has opened. The food is so good with its traditional Irish dishes, and I’m pretty sure there would be an uproar if anything ever happened to that Potato Onion Webb.

“We try to improve things versus changing them,”
explains Siraj. “Our guests have memories here. Some were kids when they first
came and they are now in their 20s. They want to hold onto those memories whether
it’s a dish or a drink.”

Here are a few recommendations from myself and
regulars to get your mouth watering.

APPETIZERS:

MY FAVORITE: Scotch Eggs – hard-boiled eggs wrapped in pork sausage, dusted with bread crumbs and fried. Served with apple beet salad and mustard sauce for dipping. My mouth is watering just typing this description.

FAN FAVORITE: Potato & Onion Webb – thinly sliced potatoes & onions, hand dipped in beer batter, crisply fried golden brown & served with malt vinegar. Pro tip: add cheese on top with a side of ranch.

HONORABLE MENTION: Soda Bread – served with apple
butter. This crispy bread is complimentary with your meal.

ENTREES:

MY FAVORITE: Guinness Beef Stew – country fare
stew brimming with beef, carrots & pearl onions in a Guinness infused gravy
surrounding a stack of mashed potatoes. They had me with Guinness infused
gravy.

FAN FAVORITE: Fish & Chips – North Atlantic
fresh cod fish in ale batter with wedge fries. Served with a side of malt
vinegar & tartar sauce. Some of the best Fish & Chips I’ve ever had!

HONORABLE MENTION: Pistachio Crusted Salmon Salad
– fillet
of salmon served on a bed of baby greens, roasted root vegetables, tomatoes,
onions, havarti dill cheese with homemade mustard ale vinaigrette.

VEGAN OPTION: Shepherd’s Pie – plant-based sausage crumbles,
green peas, carrots, celery, onion, mushrooms baked in casserole topped with
vegan red bliss mashed potatoes.

DRINKS:

MY FAVORITE: Apple Pie on the Rocks – vodka drink
that tastes like an apple pie in a glass!

FAN FAVORITE: Guinness – enough said.

HONORABLE MENTION: Green beer! Stop by on St.
Patrick’s Day and enjoy a mug of the “green stuff”.

Click here for the full Finnegan’s Bar & Grill menu.

The Experience

In speaking with Gerri, Siraj and Jan, I decided the “F” in Finnegan’s is about three things: food, family, and fun. It’s the secret recipe that has made Finnegan’s a favorite for so many guests. Even as I talked to them I picked up on their camaraderie as they laughed and shared stories with me.

“It’s very much a family atmosphere,” says Gerri.
“From the managers all the way down, everybody’s in it together. And they
convey that to all the guests.”

There’s a commitment to offering an authentic
Irish pub experience, which is rooted in the food and drinks served and the
welcoming personalities of the restaurant staff. From the moment you walk in
and are greeted at the host stand to the friendly bartenders and wait staff,
you’ll feel as if you’ve joined the Finnegan’s family.

“What people crave is the ambiance of the Irish
pub,” says Siraj. “It’s the culture, the Irish mentality that makes the food
taste good. There’s love in it.”

And that’s the key to the secret recipe. A team
made up of individuals who love to come to work every day.

“It really feels like home. I always joke and say
that Finnegan’s is an at-home pub and a theme park grew around us,” says Jan.

I wish I could share all the stories they shared
with me, from the challenge of having the bar completely redone with barely any
notice to stories of guests who travel across the pond and stop by to see Jan
every visit. And Jan, along with many other Finnegan’s Team Members, has become
well-known because of the connections made every day with you, our guests.

“My favorite place to work is the corner of the
bar,” Jan explains. “I call it connection corner, because people will sit
there, and I’ll introduce this person to this person. I know one group who
started a friendship back in 2007, who meet here every year during Halloween
and the Holidays. It’s just family here.”

The Regulars

If you need any more convincing to make Finnegan’s a must-do during your Universal Orlando Resort vacation, look no further than our UOAPs (Universal Orlando Annual Passholders). Finnegan’s has become a favorite spot for UOAPs to hang out before our special events or grab lunch with friends or family.

“My
favorite place to eat both in and out of the parks. Love the Guinness Beef
Stew.” –
Gale W.

“We loved
it! The food and service were amazing. It’s definitely not your typical theme
park quality food, it’s much better!”
– Tanya S.

“It’s the
ONLY place to eat lunch in my opinion. Great food and a great value.”
– Shawn W.

If you’re ready to become a regular, or have already hit that status, check out the Finnegan’s merch down the way at Rosie’s Irish Shop. It will make everyone green with envy during your St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl.

Next time you find yourself in Universal Studios
Florida, take a break from all the theme park thrills and stop by Finnegan’s
for good food, drinks, and music. You may even get lucky and meet Jan at the
bar!

Finnegan’s
Bar & Grill

Must be 21 years and older with valid identification to purchase or drink alcoholic beverages.

The post Food, Family, and Fun: Finnegan’s Bar & Grill in Universal Studios Florida appeared first on Discover Universal.

This content was originally published on on the official Universal Orlando Resort BlogThe Kingdom Insider takes no responsibility for errors in syndicated content.

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