They must have kept some of the recipes, too, because just like Elijah’s the food here is first-rate.
The Hound stopped in recently and had the pernil, or roast pork shoulder. They referred to it on a hand-written specials menu board as pulled pork, but this wasn’t like what you’d find in your basic barbeque joint. The meat, which was moist and flavorful, was in large chunks and topped by a piece of delicious crispy skin. Woe to the person who takes this heavenly piece of epicurean epidermis and sets it aside. It’s OK to do that with chicken skin. But with pernil you have to eat the skin. And that’s that.
The dinner also came with a choice of rice – I had the white rice premixed with beans, because if I had ordered them separately I would have just mixed them together anyway. I also had a choice of fried plantains, tostones or yuca. I had the boiled yucca but I asked for the garlic sauce on the side. I had sampled the sauce on a previous visit and it was so strong that no one would speak to me for two days. The yuca was so good that it didn’t need any sauce, just a bit of salt to bring out the flavor of the pasty root.
I also tried one of the restaurant’s Cuban sandwiches, which had lots of thinly sliced ham and pork with a slather of yellow mustard and some tangy dill pickles.
The Cafeteria part of Rincon Cubano’s name is a bit misleading. This isn’t the kind of place where you grab a plastic tray and slide it along the rails as someone dishes out the food you point to. In fact, you place your order at the front counter and no rails are involved whatsoever.
But you can point at what you want, but you have to go to the other end of the counter. That’s where the few hot items that are offered each day are on display. This is unclear to those unfamiliar with the setup, and in fact if you just walk in the door and up to the counter and order from the menu board on the wall, you’ll miss out on the specials because they’re not listed there.
Back up by the order station, however, a few of the appetizers are displayed in a heated plastic cube. Be sure to point to a tamal, because they’re pretty good. The Cuban version of the tamale is mostly cornmeal with just a few flecks of meat that we’ll agree for the sake of argument is ham. This one didn’t need more meat because the steamed cornmeal was delicious on its own.
Rincon Cubano Cafeteria is at 3327 N. Forsyth Road, Winter Park. The hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. No alcohol is served but credit cards are accepted. The phone number is 407-679-5600.