Somehow amongst the chain restaurants in Orlando, Havana’s Cuban Cuisine has managed to carve out a spot to give people a taste of the communist nation just south of Florida. With some great reviews, we had some high expectations for the place and these expectations were almost immediately met when they brought us out some complimentary crisp, savory and oiled up plantains.
From there things only got better. We ordered up a an appetizer of Croquetas Cubanas. These were like any other croquettes, except filled with some sort of Cuban pork and in a tubular shape I had never seen before. They were quite delicious, as was the sauce they came with. They were nice and crispy on the outside, yet perfectly gooey on the inside. They were even better when the waiter brought out an amazing specialty spicy sauce to dip both the croquettes and the plantains in.
As for my main course, I ordered some Vaca Frita (fried shredded beef). It came with a choice of different rices and some maduros (soft, sweet cooked plantains). Instead of the white or yellow rice, I chose the congri options, which is a black rice composed of well, rice and black beans. To say that this was incredible is an understatement. Such an understatement, in fact, that I completely forgave Havana’s Cuban Cuisine for the onions that came with the beef. It was stringy, tender and infused with an amazing garlicky flavor that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced.
My only regret is that it took me 30 years to discover Vaca Frita. Now I can only hope to find it again somewhere closer than Orlando.