Review: Café La Bamba Universal Studios Florida

cafe la bamba

As we reported previously, Café La Bamba at Universal Studios Florida began serving quick-service dining to all guests. This recent change marks a massive departure from the pattern of using Café La Bamba only or VIP or special events.

Though the Universal Orlando Resort mobile app initially indicated differing operating hours, this dining option appears to open at noon daily. During morning hours, Café La Bamba serves breakfast for VIP tours. The hours of operation run until 4:00 p.m. each day.

cafe la bamba

Café La Bamba opened with a taco and burrito-style menu. The new food and beverage received very positive reviews about the first few days of operation. For example, The Unofficial Guides posted on Twitter that the “Baja shrimp tacos are good, but I like the vegan chorizo even better. Seth Kubersky also commented that the “Spicy mango margaritas have a bite & are a good value at $11.50. Just wish salsa was included instead of extra.”

cafe la bamba
Photo of some of interior area of Cafe La Bamba

However, over the weekend, I received several reports of less-than-stellar service. These weekend accounts voiced that food quality dropped to an abysmal level.

cafe la bamba

Still, one thing running consistent with the opening days of Café La Bamba to all guests revolves around the service issues. Food service at a major theme park presents countless obstacles. Café La Bamba “officially” only takes mobile orders. Even though that has been inconsistent in the early days, guests failing to receive items ordered happened often. Also, this past weekend, the mobile ordering process displayed shockingly slow performance. Universal Orlando Resort has never done well with mobile ordering, but reports for the opening weekend sounded disappointing.

cafe la bamba

Since this place offers some excellent options for vegan, vegetarian, and pescatarian diners, I hoped to sing this place’s praises. My initial research and consulting with others left me with more questions than answers.

On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, I went to Café La Bamba. The day before, the items I wanted were not available. On Tuesday, the same issue occurred. The kid’s meals and the non-deluxe versions of burritos were unavailable. This fact contradicts the large menu sign outside and the online menu. Though all team members showed professionalism, the mobile ordering system failed to be efficient. However, my experience rates as adequate but not excellent. The inefficient mobile ordering and table delivery method was the only way to order here.

Since the standard burrito was missing from the menu, I ordered the Vegan Tacos with chorizo. Guests receive three tacos and some tortilla chips with this entrée. These chips do not come with salsa or any condiments. Though your entrees arrive on real plates, guests receive plastic silverware.

The tortilla chips offered a decent flavor. They appear to be designed to match salsa or guacamole, however.

The street-style tacos are prepared soft taco style with flour tortillas. My vegan taco entrée cost $13.99. Though my tacos were not supposed to have sour cream, one of them clearly did. According to the mobile ordering menu, the vegan tacos consist of a choice of protein (I chose vegan chorizo), vegan cheese, and Pico de Gallo.

These tacos come with plenty of color and freshness with the Pico de Gallo. The tortillas were very soft, in a good way. In the first taco, the chorizo got overwhelmed by the other components.

My second taco contained a more significant portion of chorizo. The chorizo flavor was easier to detect but lacked the robust flavor I expected. Also, the taco rates high on the potential mess factor. These tacos will have ingredients falling out, so be prepared to use your silverware or chips to eat those portions.

The third taco had a large dollop of sour cream. Fortunately, I received vegan sour cream with my vegan tacos. Sadly, this sour cream could be a better version, at least on this day. The sour cream overwhelms the rest of the taco.

Overall, the taco tasted fresh. The Pico de Gallo presents fresh vegetables. The vegan cheese worked well with these tacos. I would have preferred a better balance of flavors, however. The price point and quality of this theme park quick service entrée deserves some praise. Especially for vegan diners, Café La Bamba makes an excellent addition. Still, the service issues and struggles during busy park days should be prepared for if choosing to dine here.

For example, the people seated next to me on Tuesday had great trouble mobile ordering. After their food arrived, half of the entrées were wrong. They waited a long time for replacements for their original orders. These struggles continue to happen here, but it is a new quick-service option. The food tastes good, but service issues have hindered this place so far. Overall, this place shows promise but it is hard to give a hearty recommendation yet.

As always, eat like you mean it!

Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.