One of the places that I read about before traveling to Orlando was a little lunch counter that is very popular with the locals. It is described as a tiny place with only a few seats inside and a couple outside. Supposedly, the place gets packed around the lunch hour, so people in a hurry should either come earlier or later. All of these were true.
MG and I got to the Black Bean Deli near 2pm, just as most lunches are usually finishing. The place was still packed with people grabbing food to go. Luckily, we were able to grab the sole outside table to sit and enjoy lunch.
I got the Large Cuban ($6.00). It is most certainly large, not overwhelmingly so, but definitely go for the small unless you are a big eater and are very hungry. The bread was fresh and flaky. The ham was very tasty, without being too salty. The roast pork was nice. The Swiss cheese and pickles were applied in good proportion to the sandwich. While this won’t be replacing Casa Havana’s Cubano Especial as my favorite Cuban sandwich, I can unabashedly recommend this tasty treat. The amount you get for the price is fantastic and I wouldn’t complain if the sandwich cost $10.
MG got the daily special, Ropa Vieja ($8.00). It comes with a small side salad, black beans, fried sweet plantains (maduros), and white rice. Their menu board describe the Ropa Vieja as seasoned in a wine with tomatoes. It was excellent, very tender, very well cooked. MG was not as impressed as I, but she still found it delectable.
She also got a small Black Bean Soup ($2.00). She said it was simple, but good. It tasted of black bean, nothing more, nothing less.
The Ropa Vieja Empanada ($1.75) is a must have. The flaky crust compliments the beef very nicely, and the shell holds in all the juice from the wine sauce and the meat. Definitely order one if you take the trip.
To drink, we both got a Latin soda, Jupina ($1.00), a pineapple flavored drink. Interesting, but not a must have.
Rounding out the meal was a Coconut Macaroon ($1.00). It was nice, but I believe it is made with some form of flour, or some binding of some sort. While not bad, that addition takes away from the pure coconut flavor, but for a dollar, I cannot be too upset.
Black Bean Deli is a superb spot for lunch. I can see why they have so many “Best-of” awards lining the walls. This place must be spoken of in hushed, revered tones by the natives. The only drawback is lack of seating. However, a few miles away are the parks and lakes that surround Orlando’s planetarium. Grab a bag and head over to sit in the park on a nice day. It is well worth your while.
Black Bean Deli
325 South Orlando Avenue
Winter Park, FL 32789