Orlando may not be a cultural hub for food, but it certainly houses some of the best restaurants I’ve been to. As an Orlando food veteran (I’ve been here a for a decade), my opinion undoubtedly means more than someone who eats at home every night. As such, this review should help people in Orlando satisfy their Orlando food needs.
Cuban food isn’t really common in a lot of states, and most of it is found in either Florida or simply Cuba. Good Cuban food is even less common, which makes this hidden gem especially good. It’s gradually getting busier, so it my not be a “hidden” Orlando gem for very much longer. One thing I would like to point out before I start the review is that people have been commenting on how I never really say anything negative.
This is because these are the TOP three restaurants, not the bottom. If a restaurant is perfect in my eyes, obviously I’m going to call them out and commend them. Make sure you’re in the West Dover Shores area of Orlando, because I’m not sure you’ll be able to get a seat with the way their popularity is spiking. The food here is top notch, both in the quality of it and the quantity of it. By quantity I’m referring to the menu, of course. Zaza New Cuban Diner’s chefs and owner did not hold back, making sure to include any Cuban dish you can possibly think of.
I’m certain that the chefs love what they do, because every bite tastes like the chef just wants you specifically as a person to be happy. Speaking of happy, that’s how I feel whenever I think about how fresh everything tastes. Not only do the ingredients taste fresh, but it almost feels like the chefs go to the farmers market each morning and scoop up all the fresh produce they can hold. I’m telling you guys, the chefs here are amazing. This is no exaggeration.
My favorite dish to order is the guava con queso (guava with cheese). It’s more of an appetizer, but at the same time if you order two of them then it basically counts as an entree, right? I wasn’t sure what to order when going in for the first time, but the waitress suggesting that I order it and I have been hooked ever since. In fact, this brings me to my next point. Zaza New Cuban Diner’s service is just as good as, if not better than, the food.
All of the servers have the menu down pat, and they can whip out multiple suggestions if you’re indecisive like me. One of my favorite things about the waiters is how they manage to remember orders from multiple tables at once, and then let you know what others have ordered that day. That way you know what everyone else likes, if you can’t decide for yourself. Picky eaters are also welcome, because there is certainly something on the menu for everybody.
In addition, the waiters are all really friendly on top of being helpful. Don’t come in expecting to be ignored. I know a lot of restaurants in Orlando hire waiters who just ignore people in the restaurant and socialize with other staff, but not here. Each waiter regularly checks on the tables, making sure everyone has their needs fulfilled.
I don’t want to spend the whole review talking about one restaurant, so if you’re dying to learn more information then make sure to look at yelp and google. There are plenty of positive online reviews for everyone to get their share.
Next up is definitely a classy joint, and it’s Orlando’s best steakhouse. Itta Bena is found in southwest Orlando, by the Big Sand Lake. Make sure to wear your fancy clothes, because this place is CLASSY. Even the waiters dress for success, and they’re not even eating anything! Itta Bena serves both steak and seafood, so there is definitely something for everyone on the menu. I’m a boring person when it comes to eating, so I usually just get prime rib with a baked potato and all the fixings. Since it’s a high-end restaurant, that obviously goes hand in hand with serving up some quality food.
I have never seen any food sent back, and I’ve actually been in the kitchen before as well. I have a friend who used to work there, and he let me see inside one time after hours. With the owner’s permission, of course. Everything inside of the kitchen is top notch, from the fridge to the countertops to the exhaust hood. I don’t think grease traps are supposed to shine, but this one surely did. Itta Bena clearly spends top dollar on the best Orlando hood cleaning company.
Speaking of top dollar, that doesn’t describe the prices here at all. Each dish is very affordable, but the proportions are so large that you might end up sharing a dish anyways. If your kids have some nice clothes, maybe you can treat them to dinner one night. Check out all of the amazing reviews on yelp and google if you’re still unsure.
Last but not least, there’s Ararat Euro Food Bistro. This one’s only about a block or two away from Tangela Park. Nice scenery, you can definitely take your food to go if you want to sit at a park bench and relax. On top of that, the restaurant is always playing Russian music which I think is a nice change of pace. It’s nice to listen to music from other countries and see what it’s like.
Essentially, it doesn’t matter where you eat your food. The experience will be enjoyable regardless. I added Ararat Euro Food Bistro on my list because the food that’s served here is different from any other restaurant you would find in Orlando. The menu has so many crazy and unique foods that I’ve never heard of, and I’m always curious to try something different each time. My friends and I have all written very good reviews online, so you can look for those and see my additional thoughts.