When it comes to traveling, there are lots of variables to consider. How to get there? Where to stay? What to see? Who to see? However, there is one big detail that is often overlooked.
Where to eat!
As Muslims there is the added consideration of eating Halal. Thankfully, there are many halal restaurants popping up across the United States making it easier for hungry Muslim visitors to eat Halal. Here are some tips for you to review as you plan your next trip.
Visiting Orlando can be overwhelming, especially if it is your first time. The city has so much to offer tourists. Between the themeparks, sports arenas, national parks, museums and of course the beautiful mosque of Masjid Al-Hayy (which is a must see if you visit Orlando), it is easy to forget about your stomach until it starts to grumble. While there are many Halal restaurants across the city, the density isn’t sufficient for you to just stumble upon at any given location like in other larger cities. So it is important to do some research. Here are 5 things to consider, with a bonus tip at the end.
1. Check Yourself, Before You Wreck Yourself.
As the number of Halal restaurants goes up, so does the number of definitions of what is Halal. While the basic premise is the same, the devil is in the details which can vary between different schools of thought. So it’s important to know what is Halal vs Non-Halal for YOU. Is the meat hand-cut or machine-cut? Does the machine have a live Muslim operator or is it automated? Is the restaurant fully or partially Halal? Is there separation between Halal and Non-Halal items to avoid cross-contamination? Do they serve Non-Halal items like pork and alcohol? Is the restaurant owned by a Muslim? These are all questions that only you can answer to your level of satisfaction.
Also, restaurants are constantly changing their suppliers so the data that is reported on any given website may be outdated and incorrect. As a disclaimer, in my About section, I discuss my opinion of Halalness for you to review. As such it is important for you to call ahead and ask the questions that are important to you.
2. “Location, Location, Location”.
It’s true in real estate and it’s true for restaurants. If you are spending the day in one part of the city, you won’t want to drive to the other side of the city for your Halal meal if you can avoid it. Rather, you’ll want to pick Halal restaurants that are close to you. This especially true if you don’t have access to your own car as Orlando doesn’t have a robust public transit system like other larger cities. I want you to get food in your mouth as quickly as possible for the location where you are at. That’s why I’ve compiled lists for various locations across Orlando like Universal Studios and Sea World speed up that process.
3. Timing is Everything.
So now that you know the perfect spot to eat, it’s important to consider other factors. Most likely you’ll spend the day at the theme parks enjoying the rollercoasters and shows. By the end of the day, you will be very hungry. So it can be extremely disappointing to know that your Halal restaurant of choice has already closed for the evening. So, look ahead at the hours of operation. Thankfully, there are many Halal restaurants that are staying open later, especially those around the theme parks.
4. Time for Plan B.
Even the best made plans can fall apart at times. But that’s okay. You may have all your meals planned out but find that you are unable to execute your plan. It could be because of weather (it’s Florida, it will happen). It could be you missed your scheduled window because the kids wanted to ride Space Mountain “JUST ONE MORE TIME” and the restaurant is now closed or too crowed. It could be that you just don’t feel like eating what you though you wanted to.
It’s okay. Don’t panic.
You are a foodie and can adapt on the fly. One great tip is to always have a main choice and an alternate choice for the day so you have flexibility. When you are planning your visit, have an extra restaurant or two that interest you to act as alternates just in case. You may be pleasantly surprised by your alternate choice. Another tip is that it is okay to revisit a Halal restaurant that you enjoyed previously and try something different on the menu. It will be like having a different experience without extra effort.
5. Plan For Your Needs.
When you go to a restaurant, food is one factor that goes into your decision process. You may have some special needs that also to be accommodated beyond your growling stomach. If you are on a budget, it’s important to know which restaurants won’t break the bank. If you are looking for a more formal, full-service meal, it’s important to know which restaurants will roll out the red carpet. If your wife is on a diet and will only eat healthy, then going to a phillycheese steak spot is not the right choice for you. There are plenty of TOP 5 lists on this site that will help you find which restaurant can accommodate your needs.
6. BONUS: Order Like a Local.
When you visit a new city for the first time, it can be overwhelming with so many choices. Apps, search databases and review sites are a way to help you pick. But when you arrive at the restaurant, the menu can be the next challenge. You only have one shot to get it right so you don’t want to pick something that you won’t like. Local insight will help guide you to pick the best dishes the restaurant offers. Some restaurants have a great menu overall, while others have just one or two star dishes that stand out, so you definitely don’t want to miss those. All of our Halal restaurant reviews come with recommendations about which dishes to try.
I hope you enjoyed this list and found it useful. Planning a vacation is stressful. Eating out can be stressful too. But hopefully, with a little pre-planning you can make it a more relaxing and enjoyable experience. After all, food should be a comfort. Be sure to share this with someone you know who is going on vacation and as always check out my Twitter and Instagram feeds for the latest on the Halal Food Scene in Florida and beyond.