For some time now I've been searching for a downtown eatery whose name I knew to be Latin Square Cuisine. I had verified the name via a phone call, so I knew that it wasn't suddenly operating as a different business.
But it was the location that was giving me trouble. A Googling of the address, 250 S. Orange Ave., put it at the SunTrust tower, and I should admit right here that I didn't even know there was still a SunTrust Bank in the area. But I knew the building, and I was pretty sure I knew the restaurants, such as they were, that occupy the ground floor retail spaces.
On one corner there is a fast casual place called Simply Puur. I'm not sure why a place with Simply in its name would go to the difficulty of misspelling pure, but there you go. Farther down the SunTrust campus is a Nature's Table Cafe, a chain whose existence has baffled me for a couple of decades.
I even looked at the cafes across the street, because Google Maps has been wrong before, as a trip to Ft. Lauderdale that sent me to Hialeah can attest. I now have a trust but verify arrangement with Mr. Google.
But the other day I was determined to get to the bottom of the Latin Square mystery. I parked my car and entered the SunTrust building lobby. Maybe there was an interior access, I thought. But no, there was just the vastness of the monument to money and the flying trapeze art high overhead from sculptor George Segal.
Then I remembered that a long time ago there was a restaurant that overlooked the green space lawn in front of the building. I believe it was, at one time, a Le Peep that pooped out when better breakfast options came into the downtown area.
I started to make my way there when I noticed, just outside the side door from the lobby to the green space, there was a line snaking from a small storefront. It was Latin Square Cuisine.
I took my place in the line and looked over the menu overhead, behind the workers who were dishing up the foods from steam trays behind a glass counter. The menu features a tidy number of sandwiches, salads and entrees. You've got your Cuban, your ropa viejo, your chicken with chimichurri sauce. When it came my turn to select, I went with the shredded pork with two sides, those being a moro rice (a mix of black beans and rice) and roasted potatoes.
The pleasant young woman who took my order first piled on the moro, then the roasted potatoes, and I thought maybe she had misunderstood me or that I had ordered incorrectly because I didn't think there would be room for the pork.
But then she plopped on a massive amount of the pork and somehow managed to get the clamshell container closed.
I also ordered a cup of the Baja chicken enchilada soup to go. Actually, it isn't necessary to order anything to go — if you get something, you must go and make way for another person to enter the cramped space. If you wish, you may eat your food at one of the tables in the gravel area next to the lawn, which isn't as unpleasant as it sounds.
I carried my lunch home and opened it up and dove right in. Every bit of it was wonderful. The rice blended with the beans had a substantial mouthfeel, the thinly sliced potatoes still had crunch and a buttery flavor. And the pork was juicy and tender and just right when sprinkled with a bit of the mojo sauce that was offered on the side. There was more than one person should eat at one meal, so I enjoyed everything a second time.
The soup was good, too, though I didn't quite get the enchilada reference. It had a tomatoey sort of broth with an unapologetically spicy bite, with bits of corn, black beans and potatoes in the mix.
By the way, all this food, which lasted two meals, came to $10.10, including tax. What a bargain.
Latin Square Cuisine is at 250 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. The restaurant's supposed website address doesn't work, but its Facebook page says it is open until 5 p.m. I'd call first. you can do that at 407-970-7045.