Back in the old days of restaurant reviewing -- you know, three or four years ago -- we had to work hard at finding new and interesting places to write about. I used to keep a digital recorder handy in my car, and whenever I would spot something of interest -- signs of a just-closed eatery, a new restaurant opening -- I would make a quick audio note to myself. Then, back at my desk, I would make some calls to track down more info. A restaurant critic has to do more sleuthing than tv, movie, theater or book critics. Writers on those beats would receive press releases about scheduled openings or premieres. Restaurants rarely hire pr firms -- and they frequently didn’t want the restaurant critic to know about their place right away.
I still have the digital notetaker, now built into my iPhone, but I haven’t used it in the same way in ages. Now, I find out about new restaurants the way most everyone else does: I spot notices on Facebook and Urbanspoon and Yelp. And every now and then you see an unlikely candidate start to “trend,” with lots of extra buzz and attention.
That was the case with Junior Colombian Burger. It showed up in the top ten “Talk of the Town” list on Urbanspoon, and at least one other critic had written about it. It’s the sort of place I probably wouldn’t have noticed even if I drove past it and never would have found if it hadn’t been for the online attention.
I don’t feel I would have missed anything.
Don’t get me wrong, the burger was good -- a thick patty topped with almost-melted cheese and crushed potato chips. But it wasn’t oh-my-god good, and it wasn’t worth standing in the unattractive vestibule of the storefront eatery while hip-hop music blared.
And some of the other things I ordered were kind of miserable. The arepa was more melted cheese than corn cake. And the beef skewer was so tough as to be inedible. I did like the quesadilla, which had lots of chicken and cheese inside.
Perhaps Junior’s allure is its late closing time: 4 a.m. The place is mainly a takeout eatery, although there are some stand-up counters, most of which are located along a narrow hallway that leads to the back and the restrooms. I couldn’t imagine a more unattractive place to eat. But I suppose at 4 a.m. one doesn’t eat, one scarfs. And, I’m guessing, sends loving notes about the food to various social networks and food sites.
Junior Colombian Burger is at 5389 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando. It’s open for lunch, dinner and late night scarfing daily. There does not seem to be a website. The phone number is 407-745-9216.