15 BEST Things to Eat and Drink at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival in 2024!

Are you looking for the best things to eat and drink at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival?

Look no further because you’re in the right place!

This annual event is not just a feast for your eyes but an international journey for your taste buds, offering LOTS of dishes and drinks that I know you will love.

I was invited out by Busch Gardens to get a preview of this year’s event. 

As always, my opinions are my own and some of the items were tried on days that I went to the festival on my own.

So, buckle up as I take you through an epicurean tour of the 15 must-try foods and beverages that I personally enjoyed on my multiple trips to Busch Gardens.

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2024 Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival at a Glance:

  • Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival runs from March 9, 2024 through May 19, 2024
  • Food and Wine Festival Food & Beverage Cabins are open Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. – Park Close
  • Treat yourself to the Food and Wine Sampler Lanyard which will save you money if you want to try several festive dishes
  • Indulge into a decadent Timbits donut dish
  • Spice up your trip with a refreshing beer or wine
  • Capture the most incredible photos with a group of your beloved Hipster Friends
  • Be sure to grab the latest Mardi Gras merchandise
  • Eat your way through the festival with the colorful cuisine (my favorite thing to do)!

Keep reading to get a full guide on how to conquer this Florida event like a pro!

1. Bobotie (South Africa)

Bobotie is a South African dish that’s a must-try at the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival this year. It’s a savory mixture of minced meat baked with an egg-based topping.

It was my first time trying it and my friend, who’d just come back from South Africa, said that it was decent for an American interpretation of this dish.

I really enjoyed it; however, I could tell that my experience would’ve been better if it was a bit warmer (an issue I kept running into at the event).

The Bobotie was seasoned with curry powder and turmeric, giving it a vibrant yellow hue and a complex flavor profile along with the sweetness of the raisins and apricot. 

Making it one of the best things to eat at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival!

  • Key Ingredients: Minced meat, curry powder, turmeric, and an egg-based topping.
  • Main Takeaway: Expect a harmonious blend of sweet and savory notes, thanks to the inclusion of dried fruits like raisins or apricots.

I think that the Bobotie was a wonderful introduction to South African cuisine for me as it was comforting but with an exotic flare. 

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2. Papi Pink Moscato Wine (Chile)

The Papi Pink Moscato Wine was one of my favorite drinks of the evening. You’ll enjoy it if you like a sweeter, light-bodied wine. 

One of the things that intrigued me the most was that this wine featured a beautiful pink hue, making it not only a treat for the palate but also a feast for the eyes.

I also liked that it was refreshing and a welcomed break from the Florida heat and humidity.

  • Key Features: Sweet and fruity flavor, light-bodied with a pink color
  • Main takeaway: Based on my experience you can expect notes of berries and a hint of peach in each sip, offering a refreshing and slightly effervescent experience.

Its sweetness and bubbly nature make it a perfect companion for the warm, outdoor setting of the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival.

Just know that I’ve tried lots of Moscato wines in the past and this one is not as sweet as many of them (which I liked).

The sweetness reminded me more so of a Riesling than a Moscato.

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3. Timbits (Canada)

The Timbits donuts were the WINNER for me this year! Me and the group of people I was with all raved about this deliciously sweet treat that we all had not heard of before.

Timbits are “donut holes” popularized by the Canadian coffee chain, Tim Hortons, as a small but airy version of a traditional donut.

At Busch Gardens Tampa, they came with maple whipped cream on top and a drizzle of caramel…Chef’s Kiss!

  • Key Features: Bite-sized for easy snacking
  • Main Takeaway: The best dish at the festival this year

Their small size makes them perfect for sharing or for enjoying a little bit of everything without filling up too quickly.

4. Whiskey Sour (USA)

The Whiskey Sour at the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival is a festival classic that promises a harmonious blend of sour and sweet. 

Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival Whiskey Smash

Each year I have to get this one as Busch Gardens does it right! Crafted with precision, it combines whiskey,lime juice, and a touch of Triple Sec.

Not a bad interpretation of this American cocktail!

  • Key Ingredients: Whiskey, Lime Juice, Triple Sec
  • Main Takeaway: This drink strikes the perfect balance, offering a refreshing tang from the lime juice, which is beautifully countered by the smooth warmth of the whiskey. The Triple Sec rounds out the flavor, ensuring it’s not too tart on the palate.

To me, it’s a timeless choice that complements the diverse culinary offerings at this year’s festival, making it one of the best things to drink at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival.

5. Chicken Saffron Rice (Spain)

At the 2024 Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival, the Chicken Saffron Rice stood out as a simple culinary masterpiece to me. 

This dish combines tender, juicy chicken with aromatic rice infused with a saffron broth, red bell pepper, tomato, onion and finished with white wine and garlic.

Can you say perfection!

This dish is a fan-favorite each and every year. That’s why it keeps returning and I love it 🙂

  • Key Ingredients: Juicy chicken pieces, saffron-infused rice with aromatic herbs and spices
  • Main Takeaway: Expect a burst of flavors with each bite, from the earthy warmth of saffron to the subtle spice blend that perfectly seasons the chicken. 

The saffron not only adds a rich golden hue to the rice but also a distinctive taste that’s slightly sweet yet savory.

Just request a warmer one if it’s been sitting outside of the heat lamps for too long so that you can get the best experience.

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6. New Age White Blend Wine (Argentina)

The New Age White Blend Wine was my favorite wine of the evening so-much-so that I had to go back for seconds.

It’s a white blend which made me think that it was going to be on the drier side but it was more on the sweeter side without being like a Moscato or Riesling. It was the perfect balance!

It has been dubbed as America’s #1 Argentine White Wine and I can agree as I’ll be buying a bottle real soon.

Crafted from a blend of 90% Torrontes and 10% Sauvignon Blanc, to me the wine presented a harmonious mix of floral and fruity notes.

  • Key Features: Light-bodied and slightly sparkling with a blend of Torrontes and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Main Takeaway: Expect hints of citrus and peach on the palate, coupled with a subtle sweetness that makes it highly approachable from the sustainably farmed vineyards across Argentina’s San Rafael wine region

Take it from me, you will appreciate its versatility at pairing well with both light appetizers and hearty meals with a hint of spiciness!

7. Green Curry Chicken Pie (Australia)

The Green Curry Chicken Pie was one of the fun yet familiar dishes at this year’s festival.

It combined the textured flavors of Asian cuisine along with the comforting taste of something similar to an American Pot Pie. 

Inside, you’ll find tender chunks of chicken, bathed in a rich, green curry sauce. 

You’ll also enjoy the complex mixture of ginger, bamboo shoots, basil aromatics all served in a flaky pastry shell.

I know your mouth is watering as you read this!

  • Key Ingredients: Tender chicken pieces, rich green curry sauce and the flaky pie crust
  • Main Takeaway: Try this dish as it is slightly similar to a Pot Pie but with an Asian twist with the pie’s buttery and flaky crust

If you’re a fan of both Asian cuisine and hearty pies, you will find this dish a perfect marriage of two culinary worlds at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival!

Making it one of the best things to eat at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival!

8. Château des Charmes Ice Wine (Canada)

If you have been a long time fan of ThemeParkHipster, then you’ll know how much I LOOOOVE Ice Wine! So you know I was beyond ecstatic to see this on the menu for 2024.

Here’s a brief history on this Canadian wine if you’d like to learn more.

Château des Charmes Ice Wine is a luxurious treat at the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival. 

Known for its sweetness and complexity, it’s made from grapes frozen while still on the vine.

This unique process concentrates the sugar and flavors, resulting in a rich, sweet wine.

  • Key Features:Made from grapes frozen on the vine with a super rich and sweet flavor profile
  • Main Takeaway: Expect notes of ripe tropical fruits, honey, and a hint of citrus. 

For the fans out there of dessert wines, you will find Château des Charmes Ice Wine to be an exquisite choice.

Plus it’s perfect for ending a gourmet meal on a high note and sipping throughout the night. Making it one of the best things to drink at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival!

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9. Strawberry Lamington Cake (New Zealand)

The Strawberry Lamington Cake was one of the standout desserts at the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival this year. 

We ALL enjoyed this on our visit and it was my first time trying this cake.

This treat transformed the traditional Australian Lamington into a strawberry-infused delight as it came as cake soaked with strawberry jam and topped with coconut.

  • Key Features: Moist sponge cake, strawberry infused in it with coconut topping
  • Main Takeaway: The combination of sweet strawberry and the tropical taste of coconut will have you wanting seconds

So if you have a sweet tooth, I know you will find this cake irresistible for its perfect balance of fruitiness and sweetness!

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10. Dulce de Leche (Chile)

If you see this dish on any menu, then you already know that you have to try it!

This year’s Dulce de Leche is reinvented and has caramel from sweet milk drizzled over a light sponge cake topped with whipped cream!

As you can see it’s definitely a true delight for a sweet tooth. 

Just in case you weren’t away, Dulce de Leche originates from Latin America and is made by slowly simmering milk and sugar until they meld into a thick, luscious concoction that’s why there’s a slight twist to Busch Gardens’ version.

  • Key Ingredients: Sweet Milk drizzled over a Light Sponge Cake
  • Main Takeaway: Expect a deep, caramelized flavor with hints of vanilla on a fluffy cake

Just know that this dish was a bit on the “too” sweet side of things. If that doesn’t bother you, then you’ll be just fine.

Making it one of the best things to eat at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival!

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11. Lobster Roll (USA)

Know you now that I couldn’t go to this festival without trying a Lobster Roll as it’s a quintessential East Coast delight, brought to the heart of Florida for the festival.

Although it was the best I’ve ever tried, I did love all of the succulent lobster meat that they were not selfish on.

As expected, it was lightly dressed in mayonnaise, and nestled in a buttery, soft potato roll with dill and shaved celery.

  • Key Features: Chilled Poached Lobster on a potato roll
  • Main Takeaway: Expect a harmonious blend of sweet lobster and the subtle tang of mayonnaise, complemented by the slight crunch of the shaved celery

This dish is a must-try for seafood foodies, as it offers a delectable combination of flavors and textures that epitomize summer dining.

Busch Gardens Tampa 2024 Food and Wine Festival Map
2024 Food and Wine Festival Map

Making it one of the best things to eat at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival!

12. Kiwi Marinated Grilled Lamb (New Zealand)

You’ll fall in love with the Kiwi Marinated Grilled Lamb as it offers an inventive twist on a classic dish. 

The use of kiwi in the marinade not only tenderized the lamb, it also infused it with a bright, fruity flavor.

It was a hint; however, like I previously mentioned, the lamb was cold from sitting out too long which took away the full effect of the dish.

So please be sure to request one that’s warmer.

  • Key Ingredients: New Zealand Lamb marinated in Kiwi Puree, Herbs and Spices then Char Grilled, served with Sweet Carrot Puree
  • Main Takeaway: Expect a harmonious blend of savory and slightly sweet flavors, a testament to the kiwi’s subtle tang complementing the rich taste of grilled lamb along with creaminess of the carrot puree

If you’re seeking a dish that marries traditional grilling with innovative flavor profiles, this offering is one of the best things to eat at the 2024 Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival.

13. Lemon Meringue Pie (South Africa)

This year the Lemon Meringue Pie is a reinvented take on this classic dessert. 

Not only is it a tangy delight, it marries the sharpness of lemon curd with a sweet, fluffy meringue topping. 

I will say that this was one of the fluffier Lemon Meringue Pies that I’ve seen in a long time and each bite offered a perfectly balanced dessert with an eruption of citrus flavors!

  • Key Ingredients: Pastry base filled with Lemon Curd and topped with Meringue.
  • Main Takeaway: The crust adds a buttery, crumbly texture that complements the smooth lemon filling and the cloud-like meringue. 

Making it one of the best things to eat at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival!

14. Chicken Empanadas (Argentina)

Chicken Empanadas at the Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival are always a crowd-pleaser, known for their flaky pastry and savory filling. 

Although it wasn’t at the top of the list for many in my group (mainly because they were a bit dry and cold), we all appreciated the flavor profile that could’ve made this dish a top contender of the year if it wasn’t so cold.

This year’s  handheld delights have a mixture of seasoned chicken that created a perfect balance of flavors and textures.

  • Key Ingredients: Chicken and Cheese wrapped in a flaky pastry then fried golden brown, pairs well with a Smoky & Spicy Tomato Adobo Sauce.
  • Main Takeaway: You can expect a burst of flavorful chicken enveloped in a buttery, crisp exterior

Plus, the combination of spices used in the chicken offered a subtle heat that complements the pastry’s richness which added depth to this dish.

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15. Hot Smoked Salmon Sandwich (Canada)

I liked where Busch Gardens was trying to go with this dish.

It was simple, yet delicious as it combined a cherry and oak Smoked Salmon served with a spicy maple syrup coleslaw (for that extra crunch) and encased in a Brioche Bun

The Hot Smoked Salmon Sandwich is a delightful treat for seafood lovers. It features perfectly smoked salmon that’s both juicy and rich in flavor.

  • Key Ingredients: Cherry and Oak Smoked Salmon served with a Spicy Maple Syrup Coleslaw encased in a Brioche Bun
  • Main Takeaway: This sandwich combines the smoky depth of the salmon with the crisp freshness of greens, all held together by artisan bread. The creamy sauce adds a layer of decadence and sweetness, balancing the smokiness with its smooth texture.

You can expect a burst of flavors with each bite, where the smoky, the savory, the sweet, and the fresh elements play off each other beautifully. 

It’s a gourmet twist on a classic that promises satisfaction for those seeking a hearty yet refined option!

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My Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Eat at Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival

Overall, this year wasn’t as strong as 2023 but I do like how they added so many new countries with new dishes for all of us to explore. I can definitely appreciate that.

Because of this, you’ll be able to find something to suit your taste buds.

So, don’t miss the chance to indulge in these epicurean delights. Plan your visit and prepare to be amazed by the foodie adventure you’ll go on at this Tampa festival.

15 Best Things to Eat at Busch Gardens Tampa Food and Wine Festival
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Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!

Hoop Dee Doo Revue NikkyJ Dinner Show Disney World. Author bio of theme park expert Nikida Metellus.

About the Author

My name is Nikky. I’m a wife, a mother, a pharmacist turned theme park blogger, USA Today 10Best Contributor, and a writer who loves ALL things amusement park related!

Traveling alone to the parks has changed my life and I want to show how you can create your own solo theme park memories.

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