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Feb 2, 2009 02:41 PM

Best Cuban Restaurant in Orlando / Central Florida?

We've been to a few Cuban restaurants in the Orlando / Central Florida area in search of good authentic Cuban food. So far, nothing really stands out at this point.

We saw some suggestions for Padrinos that we need to try. Any other suggestions? Here's our current list...

1. Alex's (Casselberry) - Our current favorite. Just a hole in the wall with warm service and good food
2. Oasis (Casselberry) - live entertainment on weekends, solid...nothing spectacular
3. Rolandos (Casselberry) - food needs more salt
4. Don Pepe's Havana Grill (Altamonte Springs) - good atmosphere, decent food.
5. Black Bean Deli - nothing too memorable. We expected more from the recommendations on the web
6. Cubans on the Run (Casselberry) - decent
7. Vega's (Near Downtown) - not impressed
8. Bongos (Disney) - decent atmosphere. but is the food even Cuban (seems fusion)? A little too commercial
9. Coconuts (Lake Mary) - not good. Food was not fresh when we went

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  1. I've always enjoyed Numero Uno, just south of downtown on Orange Ave., especially when they have the old guy playing music on his keyboard.

    2 Replies
    1. re: JayDubya

      Ditto on Numero Uno; the only thing I dislike is navigating that cramped parking lot.

      1. re: glowworm

        Thanks, JayDubya and glowworm...will definitely check it out the next time I'm craving some Cuban food.

    2. Does anyone know if El Bohio Cafe in east orlando (on Dahlia St) is still open? If so that's a good down scale cuban joint.

      2 Replies
      1. re: herbert1

        Tommyvee must be cuban. I had always wondered what was missing at rolando's. now I know. Could it be that they don't use all those cuban flavorings containing msg?
        Maybe they should replace those flavorings with more salt like i do at home. I have also used more green olives and juice.

        1. re: mountdorahound

          Haha...I'm not Cuban, but I do love Cuban food. Rolando's good, but it just doesn't have enough umph to it for my taste.

          I do cook with a lot of chicken bouillon and chicken tomato bouillon base which adds both salt and msg. You can find it in the Spanish section of the supermarket. I also make a mean ahi sauce that goes great with Cuban food. Basically it's made with pickled jalapenos, cilantro, onions, garlic, lime juice, and salt. It's kinda like a hot fresh green salsa that goes great with Cuban food.

      2. Hubby and I really enjoy Padrino's for sit-down Cuban, in Hunter's Creek. They're a small chain out of Miami. Decent prices, tasty food, excellent service. The place is a little loud when it's crowded, but otherwise it's on our current Top Ten.

        1. There is nothing like Miami Cuban food in Orlando but when I get nostalgic, I go to Pollo Tropical. Chicken, black beans and either maduros or tostones. Gets me over the hump without becoming frustrated ( yelling " You call THIS bistek empanizado???" at a waiter comes to mind.)

          3 Replies
          1. re: eimac

            For a local version of Pollo Tropical, go to Pollo d'Oro on West Colonial. The chicken is marinated in citrus and you can get either black or red beans. All of the sides are great too.

            1. re: rosewood

              Pollo d'Oro is fantastic and cheap!!
              I would probably go with take out/drive through vs. eating there b/c the neighborhood's not so hot.

              1. re: CharliesMama

                There's a newish Cuban restaurant (2007) in Winter Park. It's called Mima's and it's in the KMart shopping plaza across 17-92 from Winter Park Village. I've only tasted the roast pork, which was very good ,but I know the owner is of Cuban heritage and makes everything from scratch.