When plans were initially hatched for Toadstool Cafe inside Super Nintendo World, the executives at Nintendo and Universal Studios Hollywood could have easily phoned in the restaurant’s menu: pizzas, chicken fingers, hot dogs, done. Instead, they dreamed up a menu inspired by the physical traits and personalities of the iconic characters from the Super Mario Brothers video games.
The result is a lineup of whimsical food and beverages that fully immerse diners into the Mushroom Kingdom. From an appetizer featuring Yoshi’s “favorite” fruits and vegetables to a glittery pink cupcake that captures the essence of Princess Peach, every detail and garnish was thoroughly considered.
Eater LA dined at Toadstool Cafe before it opened to the public, and we’re here to help first-time visitors make the most of their meals with a guide to the restaurant’s must-try dishes. So cozy up in a booth, take in the sunny views of the Mushroom Kingdom, and dig into the best of Chef Toad’s culinary offerings.
Toadstool Cheesy Garlic Knots
The cheesy garlic knots at Toadstool Cafe are made in-house, which is especially impressive considering even some of Los Angeles’s most acclaimed restaurants outsource their bread to wholesale bakeries. The dough is prepared daily, proofed and rested, then shaped into adorable toadstools. To serve, the knots are brushed with garlicky butter and dusted with a confetti of Parmesan and parsley. The knots come four to an order and are accompanied by a classic marinara sauce ideal for dunking.
Super Mushroom Soup
While nearly every savory dish on the menu includes a touch of mushroom or truffle, the mushroom soup delivers a woodsy avalanche. Served in a mushroom-shaped bowl, the comforting soup brings together a warm and silky melange of button mushrooms, garlic, and onion, along with a glug of heavy cream. The ingredients are pureed until smooth and garnished with a trio of Parmesan crackers printed with power-up mushrooms.
Piranha Plant Caprese
The sheer delight of devouring a piranha plant after dying at the sharp jaws of so many while playing Super Mario Brothers video games is priceless. The care that the kitchen shows in tilting each tomato jaw, adhering the mozzarella cheese spots, and curving the asparagus stem along the plate is impressive. Plus, a simple caprese salad, served with a heap of pesto-drizzled mesclun greens, can be the perfect antidote to the usual carnival of over-the-top amusement park fare.
Luigi often plays second fiddle to his more-famous brother Mario, but not when it comes to the burgers at Toadstool Cafe. While both burgers are built on the same plush brioche buns, Luigi’s chicken number brings together a melty slice of Swiss, a snappy green bell pepper ring, and loads of fresh basil. Grilled chicken breasts aren’t known for their juiciness, but that’s where a truly clutch creamy and herbaceous pesto sauce comes in. Crinkle-cut fries, seasoned with a hearty shake of black truffle salt, make for the ideal accompaniment. Don’t forget to snap a picture at first bite when the bun’s printed mustache matches up to the diner’s upper lip.
Super Star Lemon Squash
The beverage selection at Toadstool Cafe plays it mostly safe with soda, milk, juice, hot tea, and coffee. Fortunately, the sole specialty drink on the menu is equal parts thirst-quenching and delightful — and chock-full of star-shaped jellies and bouncy pink tapioca pearls. In the video game world of Super Mario Brothers, the Super Star grants invincibility to anyone who touches it. While the lemon-spiked bubbly beverage at Toadstool Cafe can’t quite make one invincible, its refreshing qualities provide a similar feeling with each sip.
Pro tip: Additional beverage options are available at the Super Nintendo World snack stand. The kiosk’s trio of fruity cream sodas — Princess Peach’s Peach, Mario’s Strawberry, and Luigi’s Green Apple — come with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, popping boba, and a maraschino cherry.
Question Mark Block Tiramisu
The ample portions at Toadstool Cafe can be filling, but save some room for dessert. While the glittery Princess Peach cupcake will beckon some starry-eyed diners, the tiramisu deserves a spot at the table. Neatly constructed with layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers, hints of cacao, and plenty of whipped cream, the quintessential Italian dessert is buttressed by five sugar cookies printed with question marks to resemble the Question Mark Blocks that are a staple of the Super Mario gaming experience. A swipe of raspberry sauce on the side makes for a pleasant finishing touch.
Mt. Beanpole Cake
The Mushroom Kingdom’s dramatic landscape serves as the inspiration behind the Mt. Beanpole Cake. It takes two days and a village of staffers to construct the dessert’s 10 layers. In order to mimic the mountain’s stratified sediment and grassy terrain, each layer is laid down individually and then frozen to maintain its integrity before applying the next layer. The finished product slices through like a creamy dream, with delightful rows of vanilla sponge cake, white chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, and chocolate mousse. The whole shebang is topped with a layer of not-too-bitter matcha.