Springfield, the fictional town that houses America's first family (The Simpsons, obviously) officially opens today at Universal Studios. There are carnival games, notable landmarks and "The Simpsons Ride," but Springfield is more about the food than anything else. Wander its streets and you'll pass by Luigi's Pizza, Phineas Q. Butterfat's Ice Cream Parlour, Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck. Chief Wiggum clutches a donut outside Lard Lad and Krusty the Clown holds a Krusty Burger menu outside his namesake restaurant. What's a Simpsons experience if you're not stuffing yourself silly? So that's what we did at last night's opening party—we stuffed ourselves silly.
There's a lot to skip here (do not, I repeat, do not order the alfredo at Luigi's), but as far as amusement park food goes, some of Springfield's dishes were downright enjoyable. We walked into Cletus's Chicken Shack gunning for the Chicken Thumbs—fried chicken tenders served with crinkle fries, coleslaw and BBQ or honey mustard sauce—and took a seat at one of the downstairs booths. Most of the restaurants here channel a sort of sad, cafeteria vibe, but Simpsons details abound and episodes play in a loop on mounted TVs throughout the space. The chicken tenders were good! You know, for chicken tenders.
Attached to Cletus's Chicken Shack is Moe's Tavern, where you'll find "bartenders" yelling out "I want to see more butts!" and taking order after order of Flaming Moes. "We're not allowed to say what's in it," said one guy behind the stick, but if you're a fan of ginger ale and Mountain Dew, you're going to dig this drink; dry ice secured at the bottom of each cup makes it fizz until the last drop. It's fun to order—and to sip—but guys, they don't reuse the plastic cups. Not cool.
Krusty's looming (and kind of terrifying) face greets you when you enter Krusty Burger, and we grabbed a couple burgers and a Sideshow Bob Foot Long to sample. First, the Krusty Burger: "It tastes like Burger King, and the bun is super dry." Then, the Mother Nature Burger (a veggie burger): "It's mushy. And it just tastes like mashed beans." Not a fan. The foot long, a Nathan's Famous all beef hot dog with chili, cheese and onions, was actually the best. Figures that Sideshow Bob would steal the show.
We worked our way through a mediocre $8 taco (yes, taco, singular, which...WTF?), a plate of spaghetti and meatballs that was on par with Chef Boyardee, soft serve that tasted like toothpaste, and a slice of halfway decent pizza. Springfield boasts a Duff Brewery, too, which pours three brews: Duff Beer (an amber ale), Duff Lite (a pilsner) and Duff Dry (a porter). "It's brewed at a Florida brewery near NASA, so it's out of this world," we were told. Yeah, not out of this world. But it does the trick, I guess.
Thankfully, the donuts—Homer's pride and joy—are a decent purchase here. We tried a maple and bacon version outside Lard Lad and agreed that it wasn't half bad. Our one mistake? Hopping on The Simpsons Ride after consuming almost every available food option at Springfield. Doh.