I had a nice plate of rice and beans the other day. I got it at Rice & Beans.
That’s Rice & Beans Cocina Latina, a little slip of a place in the Waterford Lakes area. Its neighbors include Urban Flats, Buffalo Wild Wings and Fuji Sushi. It’s a nice breath of independent air among the known brands.
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.
The young woman behind the counter scooped up two huge mounds of the rices and filled the rest of the plate with yuca. She put the pork and beans in separate cups and offered me some of the mojito sauce for the pork in a small plastic container. To get to the roast pork, she had to lift a beautifully golden slab of skin. I asked if I couldn’t also have a piece of the crackling, and she grabbed a pair of scissors and cut me off a square, then stabbed the scissors back into to roast.
I took a seat in the small dining room and another young woman came by to take my drink order. I found the black beans to be a bit under-seasoned, but everything else was delicious. The meat was about as moist and tender as you could hope for (though sadly the crackling didn’t crackle -- too soggy). I liked the mojito sauce very much. It was not too garlicky, as they can be sometimes.
With the exception of the young woman who took my drink order, and who didn’t seem to see any reason to smile at her guests, everyone was friendly and welcoming.
As I mentioned, it’s a small place. When I was there, a table of 18(!) was assembling in the middle of the restaurant, pretty much dominating the room. I saw someone taking their orders at the table, but everyone else just steps up to the counter to place an order. Pay on the way out.
Very nice, very basic (as the name suggests) and very reasonable. All good reasons to recommend Rice & Beans.
Rice & Beans Cocina Latina is at504 N. Alafaya Trail, Orlando. It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. The restaurant does not have a Web site, but you can call them at 407-380-9962.