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New in SoNo - Las Orchetas

I am blessed to have inherited restaurant karma from my mother. We can drive by a place and know whether or not it's going to be good. Well, when I left the Norwalk train station and took a left on Washington, I knew immediately Las Orchetas (sp?) was going to be good.

I quickly found a parking space and walked inside where the line was to the door at 3 pm. I was the only white person there with many other stylish people of Spanish descent.

The window says bakery & restaurant. If I hadn't already had doughtnuts from Cofee N' this morning, I would have gorged myself on the baked goods. Everything in the case looked delicious and fresh.

For lunch, I don't even really understand what I ordered but it was phenomenal. They have both a menu and a case of hot food where I just pointed and chose. Luckily, I was taking to go as there was not a table in the house to sit down at. I couldn't even figure out which region of cuisine this was as there were so many unusual items all over the place I had never seen before. Was over impressed, which rarely happens with me.

Will probably return tomorrow and understand exactly what type of food this was and the different offerings available.

Oh, AND....when I drove through SoNo after this experience, all the other places there felt "dead" compared to all the excitement going on inside this new establishment.

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  1. "i don't even really understand what i ordered but it was phenomenal"

    So can you tell us about the restaurant before I actually go there...what kind of cuisine? is it nice decor? is it expensive? do you need reservations?

    That, I'm sorry to say, was an extremely vague and frustrating post

    1. I Googled, and I think the place is La Orquidea Bakery, at 60 S. Main Street in Norwalk.

      Looking forward to a follow-up post. I hate to agree with wreckers00 since I typically enjoy your postings and think you contribute a lot to the Fairfield County boards, but this was rather vague.

      1. Would you rather me withold a wonderful new restaurant until I have time to write about the specific details of each morsel I ate or let you all know as quickly as possible there is an interesting new place to check out?

        Let your gut guide you whether it's a place to check out or not. You don't need anyone else to tell you that.

        The name alone will tell you it's some sort of Spanish/Latin regional cuisine along with the plethora of non-gringo diners mentioned enjoying the food.

        1 Reply
        1. re: MasterofLightChick


          You left the South Norwalk Train Station? You then went down Washington? Was it befor the bridge or did you go over the bridge? Or was it on the same street as Chocopologie?


        2. hmmm. can you describe the food a bit more? Like, did you have meat? What kind, and how was it prepared? What else did you see there? Plaintains? Rice & beans? Stewed meats? Tortilla? Arepas?

          Just trying to divine what brand of cuisine it might be. The name ("orchid") doesn't signal a region to me...

          Sorry to ask so many questions. Just trying to get a bearing as I'm not often in that neighborhood and curious where the proprietors are from.

          1. Im pretty sure its a Columbian bakery/restaurant, and has been there for quite some time. Corner of South Main and Elizabeth Street

            1 Reply
            1. re: vegas

              kinda figured it was colombian. For some reason, almost all the latin bakeries around here are Colombian (not a bad thing, btw). Thanks for the heads up...

            2. jfood just had lunch there, nice find. The name is La Orwuidea and it is Columbian on the corner of Elizabetha and Main. For $10 he ate the "country platter" with grilled top round steak, fried pork, fried egg, fried plantains, black beans and rice. The beef was tender and for a piece of round steak, jfood was pleasantly surprised, the plaintains were really good, the egg and rice were nice and the beans were good. The food was mild in spiciness which is OK in Jfood's book. The fried pork was deep fried and way too hard for jfood.

              Jfood would say this was a very good place, ultra friendly people, very clean and reminded jfood of a place in the 'hood. It sorta makes you smile to see hard working people enjoying their native cuisine.

              Thanks for the head's up MLC.

              4 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                Nice! If you want to feel cool next time, just ask for "bandeja paisa" (the non gringo name of what you ordered).

                It's probably the most common meal you find at Colombian restaurants. And a nice sampling... thin well-done cooked beef from cheap cuts, chicharron (the fried pork belly), egg, rice, beans, avocados and a plain arepa. Good filling, stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal...

                1. re: adamclyde

                  funny story...jfood walked in and grabbed the paper menu. thought it was all in spanish and he had an "oh crap" moment because the lady behind the counter was looking for the order. then jfood looked again and through divine intervention english appeared on the menu as well. whew

                  yes it was the Bandeja Paisa but there was a bit of confusion on whether it should be ground beef of the top round. glad the top round arrived.

                  1. re: jfood

                    ground beef? I've never had that one before. Glad it was the top round!

                    Did it come with an arepa? (usually the pale white-ish plain-tasting variety, so I usually supplement it with an arepa de choclo...)

                    1. re: adamclyde

                      it came with a round piece of pastry about 2" wide and 1" high, not very tasty, plus a container of a really great red topping that had a nice, but not too spicy, kick.

              2. This is a great thread. It's wonderful how everyone contributes and pulls it together, I'll have to check this place out. Do they have wine?

                5 Replies
                1. re: bewley

                  Let's manage your expectations. It serves lunch with silverware wrapped in a paper napkin. Jfood had a bottle of poland springs, no glass.

                  1. re: jfood

                    This place has been there for years and is a neighborhood Columbian bakery-quick food working people type of place. It's fast and cheap with no atmosphere or booze but a great little place to know of. SoNo needs to keep some of these places for the residents who can't afford all the newer fancier restaurants.
                    ps- you all are a tough crowd and need to lighten up a bit on the M.of L chick!

                    1. re: lillydaisy

                      please don;t include jfood in the lighten up on MLC, she's jfood's hero-ette.

                      1. re: jfood

                        muchas besitos to you jfood & lillydaisy...

                        jfood - funny question to ask you. was there really english on the menu or did it miraculously appear? i ask because an american friend in paris had a menu placed in front of her in french which she did not know how to read. she put it down and wished she could understand it. she opened it back up and, voila, english words appeared. she swears it was a "miracle" and even called into a radio show to share.

                        i myself don't recall the menu having english words pero yo hablo espanol.

                        1. re: MasterofLightChick

                          it was just an o-crap moment when jfood looked at the menu. he is sure there was english but he did not see. the food was good but it was not divine.


                2. Went for breakfast yesterday.

                  JFOOD - you didn't have a mystical moment like my friend in Paris as English is on the menu in teeny tiny print.

                  It's such a nice place with nice people running it. Sunday morning was very familial with the owner out and about talking to the patrons. I was the only gringa there which I like at times.

                  The most popular dish was eggs, something that looked like a meat hash and arepas with cheese. The eggs looked fluffy and delicious and filled with butter or some other appealing ingredient. The arepas are not like they are at Valencia but more of a patty with a slice of cheese on top.

                  I tried some cheese ball bread. All the baked goods look interesting and it'll take me some time to make it thru the case. The balls were only slightly hinted with cheese (barely at all) and sugar. Very tasty and light.

                  They have alot of corn variations on the menu - corn shaped into all different concoctions with all sorts of fillings. I tried one that looked like a huge peanut filled with mashed onions and some other sort of spice. Light, airy and delicious.

                  My main course was a simple rice, beans, plantains and they threw another corn concoction on top. Another ball and perhaps it was just a light corn/flour mixture? That's what I meant initially when I commented on this place - all the things available in the case are unlike anything I've ever tried before and the variations are so slight you are not quite sure what you are eating.

                  This place is much better than that other Columbian restaurant in Norwalk which had been the only go to spot for Spanish baked goods to my knowledge. It doesn't even compare. I like the baked goods here and will keep returning for awhile.

                  OMG - my bill....$7.20!

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: MasterofLightChick

                    which is the other colombian place in Norwalk you are referring to?

                    Those cheese balls are buñuelos and are really addictive. Not good for my health, but great for my taste buds.

                    I'm trying to think of what that peanut-shaped concoction is you are describing. Hmmm... a puzzle that needs solving.

                    Venezuelan arepas are usually stuffed (ala Valencia). As far as I can recall, all the Colombian ones I've had are topped, rather than stuffed (like you experienced here). All good, just different.

                    Anyhow, I need to head over tho this place soon.

                    1. re: adamclyde

                      Wait until you see all the different sizes and shapes of all the corn variation offerings. And, they offered two different types of bunuelos - I only tried one..

                      Oh, I wish I knew the name of the other place. I only know how to get there. Around the Best Buy/Kohls/Silver Star diner area in Norwalk, is a street that is an overpass to i-95. You take that, get to an island in the road, which you can't miss, and there are a couple commercial places on the right. The street may even head straight over and down to the SoNo area.

                      Others probably know the name because when I seeking it out, it seems everyone directed me to this place. I can't remember if I was looking for plaintains or Spanish donuts or a cortado at the time? No gringos in here at all but I didn't really like anything I tried.

                      1. re: MasterofLightChick

                        Your posts are always very entertaining and eye-opening and thanks for indulging us!

                        1. re: MasterofLightChick

                          Irrepressible... And the best handle of any CH'er on the planet. .

                          1. re: MasterofLightChick

                            Maybe La Sorpresa on Cedar? Went there once about 5 years ago. Had the bandeja paisa - which was good...

                            La Sorpresa
                            61 Cedar St.,
                            Norwalk, CT
                            (203) 838-9809

                            La Sorpresa
                            61 Cedar St, Norwalk, CT 06854

                            1. re: adamclyde

                              yep, that's it - La Sorpresa. You went there once too, how funny. See, it's not a place that makes you want to run back right away.

                              louuuu - you are a sweetie pie, aren't you?

                              I've got a lead on local pupusas and will report back once the mission is complete.

                              La Sorpresa
                              61 Cedar St, Norwalk, CT 06854

                              1. re: MasterofLightChick

                                actually, I really liked the bandeja paisa there... I've just been distracted... sounds like you've been there more recently though.