Food in DC isn’t that good; of course we have restaurant week and we have great happy hours and brunches, but the restaurants with the numerous accolades and high Zagat ratings leave much to be desired on my sensitive palate. That is why I’m always excited to visit home. While Orlando can bore me, this city has amazing food locations.
I fancy myself to be a “foodie” of some sort, but normally when I come home to Florida, I only go to my usual haunts. Usual haunts being chain restaurants such as Steak n’Shake, Zaxby’s, Pollo Tropical, Publix, and other businesses that are unavailable in the North. I decided to be adventurous and try a new local spot, without the recommendation from anyone. Enter Black Bean Deli.
Black Bean Deli has two locations; one on East Colonial Drive and another in Winter Park. The cuisine is Cuban food and the prices are extremely affordable. Black Bean Deli also has a Zagat rating of 27 out of 30 so I was really excited to check out the location.
We went to the East Colonial Drive location; that area was/is known as Little Vietnam due to the sheer amount of pho places and Asian marketplaces there. East Colonial Drive has always been one of my favorite places in Orlando; it always looked busy and it’s extremely close to Downtown Orlando, which is a beautiful location.
I was stuck between a Cuban Sandwich and a pan con lechon; the cashier convinced me the pan con lechon was a better idea due to the garlic mojo. I also was feeling particularly gluttonous so I bought a delicious guava and cheese pastelito and sweet plantains, all adding up to a grand total of $12.00. No regrets in life, I ran 4.0 miles today.
The restaurant has a really airy design; there is a lot of natural light so you feel extremely relaxed and at ease. The decor has cuban sodas of different colors and bags of Cafe Bustelo [known as the original Cuban Crack] lined the walls.
My friend ordered the vegetarian meal which was rice and beans, salad, sweet plantains, and their homemade avocado dressing. The employees were nice and friendly; they initially did give someone else’s food to us but we noted the mistake and they were able to deliver the food to the right people. Then my sandwich came.
So these portion sizes were huge; I had to get a to-go box. The sweet plantains [or maduros] were cooked to perfection; it’s a pet peeve of mine when I order sweet plantains and they are dried and lack any sort of flavor. I then tried the pan con lechon sandwich. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bread; I felt like it could have been softer or less chewy. The pork didn’t seem to have that much flavor but when you put the garlic sauce on top, it all came together. Per the suggestion of the waitress, I added swiss cheese on top of the sandwich and I was very grateful that I did.
Overall, I enjoyed my meal and my experience. I don’t think I would order the pan con lechon again however, I couldn’t beat the price and my friend loved her vegetarian platter. The guava and cheese pastelisto truly was important to my greedy little heart and buying it was one of my better decisions of 2014. I would give this place a B+ and I do plan on eating here again before departing.