Heber’s Cuban Cafe in East Orlando was my destination, but apparently I was the only one seeking it out..
That is, I was the only customer in the place while I ordered my food — and then asked for it to go so I wouldn’t be sitting in the big space all by myself.
It’s not like other people weren’t out dining at the time. As I approached the restaurant in a plaza on Chickasaw Trail, I heard a lot of commotion just a few doors down at a Mexican restaurant. It felt as if all of those people knew something I didn’t. Maybe they’d already tried Heber’s and decided to eat elsewhere that night.
Heber’s certainly serves up an impressive amount of food. The containers that held both the Ropa Vieja and Chicken Fricasee dinners were hefty and heavy. You won’t go hungry with those portions. But you might if you prefer your food to have more flavor.
Both dinners lacked basic seasoning. The shredded meat in the Ropa entree suffered further from being dry. It was stacked on an impressive mound of black beans and rice and topped with lovely sauteed onions.
Even the boiled yuca, which most restaurants douse with (too much) garlic sauce, was bland and flavorless. There was, however, a small plastic container with a white substance that may have been nothing but pure pureed garlic. A container was also provided with the side dish of tostones, also quite dry.
So, too, the chicken.
The croquetas were pretty good, creamy potato inside a golden crisped shell. Heber's operates in a fast casual way -- order your food and pay at the counter then have a seat and someone will bring the food to you.
Back at SJO Headquarters, I was able to adjust seasonings and add a little spice. But, really, that’s what we count on the restaurants to do when we go out to eat.
Maybe Mexican next time.
Heber’s Cuban Cafe is at 587 S. Chickasaw Trail, Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-757-2901. There is another location in Apopka.