I had a wonderful meal the other evening at Taka-Taka’s Cafe, a Venezuelan eatery in East Orlando. Taka-Taka’s is in the same little strip of shops as Mediterranean Deli & Gyros, which we also visited recently. There’s a Thai restaurant there, too, and this was also the original location of Millie’s Caribbean before she moved to the corner of University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail, only to lose her lease, along with all the other occupants of that center, to make way for the apartments and retail complex currently under construction. So this small, decidedly grungy looking business complex has quite the universal appeal.
Taka-Taka’s Cafe is actually half Venezuelan and half Cuban, but the Venezuelan part of the menu was what my friends and I were focused on (and they both know the cuisine and speak fluent Spanish, so it was terrific to have them as guides).
We started with a sampling of empanadas. The Venezuelan version of empanadas is made with a corn flour and deep fried. We tried the shredded beef and chicken varieties, but I think I preferred the white cheese and potato one the best, especially with the creamy garlic sauce.
I loved the cachapas con queso, a pancake-like corn cake with corn kernels and goozing cheese.
We also had a couple of arepas, including the reina pepiada, or chicken salad with avocados. The flavors of the shredded chicken and mild avocado inside the tasty corn cake, which looked sort of like a fat pita pocket, were wonderful. The arepa asado negro featured roasted round steak in a black sauce that had a prominent clove note. The two couldn’t have been more different, but both were delicious.
Even better was the patacon, which one of my friends aptly described as a banana sandwich. Well, sort of. The “bread” for the sandwich was fashioned out of plantains, mashed, fried and flattened. The pork was stuffed into the sandwich with shredded lettuce and a drizzle of sauce. I could sit and eat tostones all day, so to have two big ones as part of a sandwich with other good stuff was wonderful.
The dining area is small but kempt. Our server was delightful and helpful, explaining the various dishes and preparations in detail. (I only wish I could have understood what she was telling my friends!)
Taka-Taka’s Cafe is at 9318 E. Colonial Drive, Orlando (just east of State Road 417). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Here is a link to the Taka-Taka’s Cafe website. The phone number is 407-601-5957.