That little space on Washington Street in Thornton Park, the one-time house turned into a cafe, is often overlooked. That seemed to be the case with Aroma, a coffee shop that served some decent Italian food. I hope it won’t be the case with the new occupant, Iza Tapas Bar.
Bookended by WildSide Bar and Grille and Dexter’s and Graffiti Junktion on the other, Iza is a serene oasis amid its more raucous neighbors. And judging from what I tasted on a visit there earlier this month, the food is pretty darned good, too.
I loved the lamb sliders, gamey-flavored ground sheep served in soft, doughy naan bread with a tangy chimichurri and crumbles of feta cheese.
I also liked the contradictorily named open-faced Cuban sliders. Instead of the pressed Cuban sandwiches you might be more familiar with, these devices took the traditional ingredients -- smoked pork, ham, swiss cheese plus requisite yellow mustard and pickle slice -- and placed them atop a platform of artisan bread. Served unpressed, of course, because without that top slice of bread you can really muck up your sandwich press. All very tasty.
I wasn’t as taken with the mango shrimp ceviche simply because it had all been so chopped up that I couldn’t tell where the mango ended and the shrimp began. Good citrusy flavor? Indeed. But it served better as a dip for the plantain chips that accompanied it. That may have been the intention of the chef, too, but I expect something I can fork up and identify when I order a ceviche.
Despite the tapas classification, the portions were ample, making even the $12 lamb sliders, the highest priced item on the menu, a bargain.
Iza’s inside space still has a homeyness to it, at least in appearance. Most of the indoor seating is at high-top tables. I think I prefer the outdoor area. The terraced patio provides a charming space to sit quietly and sip Iza’s signature sangria and watch the passersby as they stroll.
Iza Tapas Bar is at 712 E. Washington St., Orlando. It is open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Here is a link to the Iza Tapas Bar website, which oddly enough does not include the business’s phone number. It is 407-999-0199.