The Mario Burger at Super Nintendo World's Toadstool Cafe Changed My Life


This past week, a friendly Italian plumber from Brooklyn named Mario invited me to lunch. He even introduced me to his brother, Luigi, and we all had a nice meal at the Toadstool Cafe. We'd all like to give our compliments to Chef Toad, because this meal may very well have changed my life.

This little get-together took place at the opening of the new Super Nintendo World in Universal Studios Hollywood, where the virtual home of the most famous siblings in video games has been made shockingly—often frighteningly!—lifelike. Massive mushrooms tower overhead. Coin boxes scatter the walls. And yes, (virtual) Toads prepare food that actually arrives at your table.

I'm not kidding. Screens are plastered on every wall of Toadstool Cafe. So my meal began with a video of Chef Toad, stirring a big pot and adding digital ingredients. “You’re in for a real treat!” Toad squeals. “Whatever you choose, I think you’ll be happy, so just relax and enjoy your meal. You’ll need the energy to continue your adventures through the Mushroom Kingdom!” Keep in mind: that is no hyperbole. I can't overstate the level of immersion here. This is all happening after you’ve walked through a massive green pipe into Super Nintendo World. You are in Mushroom Kingdom. It's as real for you as it is for Mario, who is now also real. Mario and Luigi mascots shuffle around, posing for pictures. They tell you that they like your outfit. You, of course, respond by saying that you love theirs as well. Am I a Mario brother now? Maybe!

Was I hungry when I stepped foot in Toadstool Cafe? Or scared? Maybe a little bit of both.
Photo by NINTENDO.

What does one drink inside a restaurant shaped like a giant red mushroom? Well, as you enter the Toadstool Café, you’re given a strange yellow soda. It’s called the Super Star Lemon Squash, because why not. The best way that I can describe its taste? Sugary, bubbly Go-Go juice for kids. Like the Super Star from Mario Kart, the drink makes you faster and invulnerable to damage. (Read: it makes children zoom around Super Nintendo World at unfathomable speeds.)

Like much of the Mushroom Kingdom’s finest cuisine at Toadstool Cafe, it’s tough to tell the difference between edible food and toys. The good news is that it’s all food—even the edible-ink mustaches that adorn the top of the Mario Burger. Which is of course, topped with mushrooms and a Mario-themed toothpick that you can take home as a souvenir. The taste of the burger itself? Transformative. Maybe the Toads figured out how to create real power-ups. Maybe I was famished from running around and punching coin boxes. But one bite and I went from Baby Josh to a full-grown Super Josh. I was 1UP'ed, one might say. I don't know if there's anywhere else at Universal to experience fine dining, but eating the bacon and mushrooms on that Mario Burger felt like my tastebuds were racing on Rainbow Road. I also sampled the coin-block tiramisu box, which I’m happy to report was constructed with six edible sugar cookies. It goes on like this throughout the whole menu: salads with Yoshi’s egg-shaped croutons, cupcakes that look like Princess Peach, and fruit salad with massive pieces of starfruit.

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Please send my compliments to Chef Toad.
Photo by NINTENDO.

I almost forgot the most bizarro part of the whole experience: every fifteen minutes or so, Bowser’s virtual warship swings by the video screens, which makes the Toads lose their shit in fear. The lights dim a bit, simulated lighting flashes, and enemies wreak havoc in the kitchen. It was a lot to process! Especially as I was eating a burger with a mustache printed on it. The Toads eventually carry on with their cooking, because no threat could truly interrupt their culinary paradise. Hell, this is a place where the Luigi Burger is as bright-green as the cap on his head. Where the Mt. Beanpole Cake looks like the virtual mountains that surround you. Where the Fire Flower Spaghetti & Meatballs will have you breathing fire like Bowser! (Or just drinking too much Super Star Lemon Squash.)

While playing a Mario game, you probably never thought, I wonder what the food tastes like in the Mushroom Kingdom? You'll get your answer at Toadstool Cafe, even if it's unclear whether it's the food Mario eats every day, or if it's just what Mario and his Toads choose to serve you. Either way, I never knew burgers were meant to have mustaches on them until it became real. I don't think I'll ever go back to non-mustachioed food.


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Josh Rosenberg
Josh Rosenberg is an entertainment writer living in Brooklyn, keeping a steady diet of one movie a day; his work can be found at Spin, Insider, Vibe, and on his personal blog at
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