I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to tell you about De La Vega — I visited it some time ago. I had a pleasant enough experience, and I was actually anxious to have a non-chain, non-quick-serve restaurant to recommend to Oviedoans (Oviedoers? Oviedites?). People who live in the Oviedo/Winter Springs area.
But for some reason after I visited, my review got delayed and pushed aside. So let me correct that now.
De La Vega is in a development called Oviedo on the Park that features a well-tailored green space surrounding a lake. The evening I visited there was a festival of some sort in the park with music and food and lots of happy people drinking beer.
There were happy people inside the restaurant, too. The presumed De La Vegas of the restaurant’s name are Mano, the general manager and “rum & tequila catador,” and Nora De La Vega, the chef.
The menu is a “tapas & more” list of Latin American dishes with creative twists. Witness the item called Tamale in a Blanket. It was a steamed tamale — your choice of beef or pork; I got pork — set inside a roasted poblano pepper. It was covered with a black bean sauce and decorated with squirts of cream sauce that gave it a zebra-like effect. I’ve had stuffed poblanos and I’ve had tamales, and I’m sure I’ve probably had them on the same plate before. But I’ve never had one stuffed inside the other, and I liked it well enough to try it again. It was served with Spanish rice and a timbale of cabbage salad.
I also had the Enchilada Combo, which featured four distinct variations: chicken roja, cheese verde, chicken with bean sauce, and cheese with mole. The enchiladas were loosely rolled but the fillings were generous enough, and I liked the contrasting flavors. The mole was especially good.
Service was friendly and efficient. The dining room is large and has voluminous ceilings. There are hightop banquettes and stools along the wall and conventional tables and feet-on-the-floor chairs in the center. Moody portraits of women’s faces — black and white drawings except for bright red lips — adorn the walls. There is seating on the patio overlooking the park.
On a busy night, as it was when I visited, the restaurant thrums with people having a good time — a better time than the beer drinkers in the park.
De La Vega is at 945 City Plaza Way, Oviedo. It is open for lunch Saturday and Sunday and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-900-9882.