Guru’s Review: The Mexican Camel, Orlando, Florida

Just when you thought Orlando had seen its fair share of new Halal restaurant openings for 2019 with the recent opening of Zaman Cuisine, here comes another Halal restaurant to the International Drive (I-Drive) food scene. The Mexican Camel is a counter service restaurant offering fresh made-to-order meals to delight the taste bud. They are a fusion restaurant drawing inspiration from Mexican and Middle Eastern cooking traditions. It may sound strange on paper, but once you give it a try your taste buds will thank you.

FOOD

As mentioned, the restaurant draws on cooking traditions of both Mexico and the Middle East. The counter service is setup such that you can customize which ingredients you want included in your meal much like the Chipotle model. All the ingredients are on display in front of you and you pick out which ones you like, creating a unique dish.   They offer tacos and burritos as well as rice and salad bowls. For your proteins you can pick traditional Mexican meats like Chicken Barbacoa or traditional Middle-Eastern meats like Lamb Kofta.

Ever had a burrito or taco with lamb kofta? Well now you can. Make sure to add guacamole!

taco with lamb kofta
Taco with lamb kofta and guac!

Because the combinations are endless, you can essential have a new meal and experience each time you visit.

SERVICE

As a fast casual counter service, the associates behind the counter are there to create your custom meal at your direction. They are very friendly and helpful as they walk you through the experience. It can be a little overwhelming at first given all the choices, but they do a good job guiding you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to ask for a little help from them if you get stuck or are unsure.

interior
Counter service with the Menu board above to help guide you through meal prep.

LOCATION

Located off I-Drive near Kirkman, it is close to some of the main attraction of Orlando like Universal Studios, Sea World, Orlando Eye, Orlando Convention Center, Prime Outlet Mall and Mall of Millenia.

The store’s location is not visible from I-Drive so if you are not familiar with the area, it may be easily missed. It is located on the back side of a large strip plaza. A good landmark is the Boot Barn in the same plaza. There is ample free parking in front of the store. There is indoor as well as outdoor seating.

ATMOSPHERE

When entering the restaurant there is a straight pathway to lead you directly to the counter where you place your order. There is a large board above the counter with the menu and instructions on how to place your order. The associates behind the counter also help guide you along your order if you need help.

The restaurant is very bright. The art on the wall consists of a word paint graffiti style which can be entertaining to read while you eat. See if you can spot the Halal logo hidden amongst the word jumble.

word jumble art
lots to read on the wall while you eat. Do you see the Halal logo?

The seating is arranged to accommodate parties of 4 to 6 but there are options for larger dining parties. The bathroom in the back is clean and also has a backlit mirror like Zaman Cuisine (is this a new trend or something? Great for bathroom selfies, I guess).

PRICE

For the uniqueness of this restaurant there is value created as many Muslims will be excited to try Halal Mexican food in Orlando. Furthermore, being in the heart of a tourist district means that the price is naturally going to be higher. There is also a lot of effort to bring fresh flavorful ingredients to the forefront which can also add to the underlying expenses. Having said this, meals are reasonably priced with an average meal costing in the range of around 10 USD. The only drawback is that the portions are smaller than expected and can leave you craving more (which is also a good thing).

salad with lamb kofta
2 skewers of lamb kofta with your salad. the portion may be smaller but the taste is definitely there!

OVERALL

The opening of a new Halal restaurant is always exciting. The opening of a Halal Mexican influenced restaurant is super exciting. Adopting the Chipotle model for this fast casual counter service restaurant allows customers to customize their meal experience. The atmosphere is very bright and welcoming and the employees are very helpful and friendly. There is good value for the meal, but the small portions leave you craving more, which is a testimony to their bold, flavorful fresh ingredients.  Definitely a must try if you are on International Drive. Be sure to look for the Boot Barn as your landmark to find the restaurant as it is hidden on the back side of the plaza.

Food Category: Mexican and Middle-Eastern

Guru’s Rapid Review: 4.0 of 5 Stars

Must Try: Chicken Barbacoa Burrito

Address: 5752 INTERNATIONAL DRIVE

Phone: (407) 357-0000

Website:     https://www.themexicancamel.com/

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