Halal is an Arabic word referring to what is permissible under Islamic law. When used in terms of food, halal applies to the dietary guidelines surrounding the butchering, preparing, and consuming of meat and seafood for Muslims. Orlando has become a bastion for halal eats, from Saudi Arabian and Indonesian fare to East African and Iranian delights. Here are the most notable.Read More
The 19 Essential Restaurants for Halal Dining in Orlando
From Middle Eastern feasts to all-American diner fare, here are the best halal spots in city
Oh My Gyro
Foil containers filled with chicken and gyro meat, yellow rice, pita bits, and healthy drizzles of requisite white sauce and hot sauce replicate the NYC halal cart experience effectively, but the Indian fare (samosas, tandoori chicken), as well as the East African mishkaki (marinated and skewered beef cubes), shouldn’t be overlooked.
The superbly seared kebabs grilled at this Persian grocery store in Longwood aren’t just easy on wallets and purse strings; they’re a sight for hungry eyes. Beef koubideh and chicken kebabs are perpetual faves, especially when served with Samin Nosrat-worthy saffron-scented rice. Ask for barberries, grilled peppers, and lavash for proper Persian stylings. Leftover shreds of lavash beg to be dunked in the shallot-yogurt dip.
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The tastefully spartan space has gracefully aged since opening more than a quarter-century ago, and its superb Lebanese cuisine is a testament to the restaurant’s longevity. Shanklish (sheep milk cheese) and hummus make ideal sides for more substantial dishes, whether lamb sausage, sauteed quail, or shish tawook (marinated chicken skewers). A buffet is often offered during Ramadan.
Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine (Multiple locations)
Arguably the most popular choice for diners craving Turkish cuisine, Bosphorous has expanded to four locations across the metro area, and with good reason – its kebabs, be they doner, sis, adana, or kofte, are top-notch. It’s not cheap, but the privilege of dining amid the stylish ambiance appears to be included in the price of proteins.
Blue stucco walls, mosaic lanterns, and geometric dinnerware provide plenty of visual allure at this East Orlando Moroccan restaurant, but it’s the culinary aesthetics that have earned it a loyal patronage, be it smoky and garlicky zaalouk (cooked eggplant and tomato salad) to melt-in-your-mouth curry goat tajine. Bastilla, a sweet and savory phyllo dough pastry stuffed with seasoned chicken, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with honey, is worth the visit alone.
O'Town Burgers N Wings
The stacked burgers with half-pound Angus beef patties are the primary draw of this restaurant situated in a Metrowest strip mall. Of note is the “Mix Burger” comprising said patty along with gyro meat, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato, and a couple of spicy condiments — chipotle mayo and jalapeno cheese. Wings, shawarma, and cheesesteaks are almost as popular. Look for O’Town to run Ramadan specials too.
BAD AS'S BURGERS
This sister resto to Bad As’s Sandwiches offers nothing but (halal) Australian wagyu burgers starting at a very reasonable $9. Specialty burgers are almost double the price ($16-$17) and double the pattied with such standouts as “The Marley,” cramming a mix of roasted pineapple, caramelized onions, jerk mayo, and gooey gouda in between brioche buns, and “The Warbucks” with foie and truffle-manchego cream. Don’t overlook the French onion soup or its scrummy shakes.
Habibi Lebanese Grill
The neighborly MetroWest eatery delivers the goods for pita enthusiasts and kebabophiles alike. The meat-averse can delight in a vegetarian platter highlighted by smoky baba ghanoush and lemony grape leaves. Still, the seasoned sirloin shawarma, fried kibbeh, and succulent and flavorful beef and kefta kebabs are what provoke the most prolonged grunts of gratification.
Tabla Indian Restaurant (Multiple locations)
Tabla’s brand of elevated Desi fare is now offered in three different locations across the city, but, no matter the locale, the fare consistently impresses. It’s hard to find soft-shell crab pakoras (a spiced fritter), Keralan-style mussels (mussels sauteed with ginger, garlic, and spices), or luscious paya served with lachha paratha (crispy flatbread) served anywhere else in the city. Plush lamb chops and a redolent palak gosht (spicy spinach masala curry) have been known to induce head wobbling.
Bombay Street Kitchen
The menu at this restaurant specializing in Indian street fare is an intriguing amalgam of the quick eats served in cities from Delhi to Chennai. The all-halal dishes range from kale chaat and hakka noodles to goat biryani and chicken momo. It’s a hefty bill of fare made more prominent by the “gola” station serving the ideal Florida shaved ice in a host of flavors and toppings.
World's Magic Restaurant
Saudi Arabian-style Indonesian fare may seem like an esoteric culinary combo, but, as it turns out, the desert peninsula has gone ga-ga over Indonesia’s melting-pot cuisine. This I-Drive restaurant has Saudi renditions of everything from satay to rendang, with sugar often replacing spice. Den den, beef jerky-like nibbles, are a must. Look for a buffet to be offered during the month of Ramadan.
The chichi set in Dr. Phillips come for the invitingly bright and airy interior as much as they do for the puffy wood-fired lavash and stellar plates of Lebanese staples – grilled and sauteed quails, spicy sujouk sausages, and bemieh, a stew of lamb and okra. While the restaurant serves halal meat, it also offers a selection of Lebanese wine and beer.
Makani | Upscale Mediterranean Cuisine Bar & Hookah Lounge
The handsome tourist-sector restaurant specializes in Egyptian cuisine so; naturally, the country’s national dish – koshari – is a menu fixture. The comforting mix of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, chickpeas, lentils, fried onions, garlic, and vinegar is but one of Makani’s many specialties that include hawawshi (baked pita pockets of seasoned mince), kebda (pan-fried beef liver marinated in spices and served with fluffy, vermicellied rice) and, of course, kebabs.
Cafe 34 Istanbul
The raki flows on weekends at this I-Drive hotspot, but it’s not just about the party atmo and people-watching. The “Ottoman Pleasure,” a majestic heap of protein highlighted by luscious lamb chops, is an indulgence to be shared with like-minded carnivores. On the lighter side, pastrami hummus and racy ezme are dips worth considering. Pistachio-topped kunefe is an absolute must-ending.
Moroccan Breeze Restaurant
From this stall buried deep inside the gleaming Apna Bazaar on South OBT, chef/owner Habiba Bimekliouen, a seasoned chef with nearly 35 years of experience (seven of those at Epcot’s Restaurant Marrakesh), fashions some of the best tajines, bastillas and briwats in town. Her Moroccan cookies practically beg to be enjoyed with cup after cup of refreshing mint tea.
It’s not uncommon to see patrons seated with their feet up, yakking away in assorted Desi dialects while munching on plates of chaat – cool, sometimes creamy, sometimes crunchy, but always spicy street snacks. From pani puri (crispy, fried, hollow dough balls) to shami kebabs, the Indo-Pak delicacies are as varied as they are redolent. Finish off with chai and bite-sized mithai (sweets).
The heavily spiced chapli kebab burger, crackled with pomegranate seeds and slathered in “inferno” sauce, may be one of the best burgers in the city, but the sizeable menu spotlighting Indo-Pak specialties is also worth exploring. Watch for special hours during Ramadan.
Kabab King FL
The platters of Pakistani fare served at this South OBT strip-mall restaurant are nothing short of superb, be it the scores of beef kebabs (ground chapli, rolled seekh, or chunked boti) or redolent stews like nihari and paya – both being worth the visit alone. Enjoy it all with a large, sesame-specked Afghani naan. To skip an ending of carrot halwa and bold kadak chai would be a royal shame.
Hidden amidst a maze of gaudy billboards, shops, and motels sits this Middle Eastern gem. No, it won’t necessarily conjure images of the Holy Land, but the smooth and creamy hummus will leave you praying for more. The tabbouleh salad and kibbeh, a deep-fried blend of ground beef, burgol (cracked wheat), onions, and pine nuts, are excellent options for palates with an aversion to chickpea paste. Expertly prepared kafta kabob is grilled to perfection. Enjoy a piece of baklawa and a demi-tasse of Turkish coffee before heading back out amidst the maze of gaudy billboards, souvenir shops, and roach motels of Kissimmee.