Numero Uno
Address2499 S. Orange Ave.
CityOrlando
Phone407-841-3840
Price$$

The décor is a bit cheerier than it used to be, but the food has gotten a bit run down. Still, there are good things to be had on the menu, such as black bean soup and ropa vieja. And it’s a good place to dine when you’re in a hurry but want a filling meal.

The minced meat consisted of ground beef in a tomato-based sauce. It was served with white rice and a cup of black bean soup. The rice mixed well with both the meat and the beans, and made this a filling dish. The plate also contained fried ripe plantains and the usual Cuban salad of iceberg lettuce, tomato slice and dressing of vinegar, oil and chopped onions and parsley.

My stuffed-potatoes dish consisted of two balls of mashed potatoes deep-fried to achieve a golden crust. My croquettes were a bit shy of stuffing but were topped with a meat mix. In fact, it was the same meat mix as my lunch guest had on her plate. My dish came with yellow rice and the same plantains. The rice was good, but with the mashed potatoes, it turned out to be a rather starchy meal.

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Padrino's Cuban Bistro
Address13586 S. John Young Parkway
CityOrlando
Phone407-251-5107
Price$$$
Scott's Review

I'm prepared to call this the best Cuban restaurant in Central Florida, it's really that good. A family operation out of South Florida, Padrino's features both traditional Cuban dishes and some more stylized "bistro" items, and they're served in a pleasant, bright dining room.

My guest and I started our dinner with the classic empanadas, crisp, flaky pastries filled with a spicy ground beef mixture. They were served with a wonderful guava chutney that I could have eaten by the spoonful.

We also had a selection of tostones topped with ropa vieja, ground beef and chicken. The shredded beef of the ropa vieja was a favorite.

For my entree I chose Mayi’s mahi mahi, a colorful dish of red, green, orange, yellow, golden and white that featured a fresh-tasting fillet topped with fresh mango and pineapple chutney, served with mashed sweet potatoes and fresh vegetables.

The owners are usually at the restaurant tending to the customers and making sure that everything is first-rate. And it usually is.

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Rice & Beans Cocina Latina
Address504 N. Alafaya Trail
CityOrlando
Phone407-380-9962
Price$
Scott's Review
There is, of course, a lot more on the menu than grains and legumes. R&B offers an array of mofongos (mofongi?), seafood, beef and pork dishes with Puerto Rican, Cuban and Dominican touches. You can order from the menu, or you can do as I did and choose a big platter of goodness from the items on display at the counter. For a lunch special of $6.95, you get your choice of rice -- white, mixed with red beans, mixed with black beans, or yellow mixed with vegetables; sweet plantains or boiled yuca; stewed red beans or black beans; and one of the featured meats. I chose two types of rice (with black beans and with red beans), yuca (love my yuca), black beans and the roast pork. All good, and very reasonably priced.
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Rincon Latino
Address3327 N Forsyth Road
CityWinter Park
Phone407-679-5600
Price$
Scott's Review

An unassuming little spot along the road where you place your order at the counter then find a seat in the small dining area to wait - not a long time - for someone to bring your food to you. Threre's a menu board on the wall behind the counter, but don't overlook the hot food in the steam table at the other end of the room. And if you're not sure what the food is called, it's OK to point at whatever looks good. Map.

I stopped in recently and had the pernil, or roast pork shoulder. They referred to it on a hand-written specials menu board as pulled pork, but this wasn’t like what you’d find in your basic barbeque joint. The meat, which was moist and flavorful, was in large chunks and topped by a piece of delicious crispy skin. Woe to the person who takes this heavenly piece of epicurean epidermis and sets it aside. It’s OK to do that with chicken skin. But with pernil you have to eat the skin. And that’s that.

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Rolando’s
Address870 State Road 436
CityCasselberry
Phone407-767-9677
Price$$

Some consider this the best Cuban food north of Havana. We may have to wait a while to make our own comparisons, but until then, Rolando’s does serve good Cuban dishes in a family friendly atmosphere.

The original owner of Rolando's -- that would be Rolando -- had been the owner of Numero Uno. When he sold that restaurant to open this one, he originally called it Numero Dos, which brought a complaint from the new owner of Numero Uno. So, Rolando had to change the name, which is just as well because you really don't want to have a restaurant named Number Two for a variety of reasons.

All the Cuban favorites are here, including ropa vieja and carne asada. Whatever you have, be sure to get the black beans and rice to go with it.

 

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