My obsessive quest for diversity and locally owned/family operated restaurants led me to Guavate. It is a long hike from my place still I dragged my family across town. Hoping/praying that I didn’t make the wrong choice otherwise my family won’t let me hear the end of it.
Located in the new development of Waterford Lakes, from the exterior it looks like a contemporary café/bistro. Bright colored modern décor plays on your mind making you feel like you are in a ‘café’ as the likes of Panera Bread. Spanning the restaurant, I came to the quick realization that we were the ‘minority’ here. It was fairly reassuring to see that the space was filled with Puerto Rican’s. To me, that in itself is a fair judge of the restaurant. Implying that indeed the food served at Guavate is authentic and delicious enough to drag Puerto Rican’s from their personal kitchens here.
We arrived late Saturday afternoon (after 2) and there still was a minimum wait of 15 minutes. We ate leisurely and didn’t leave the restaurant till 4:30 and people were still lining up. Do keep that mind if you are looking for a quick bite.
I had already scouted the menu on their website and was excited to try the Morcilla (blood sausage). I enjoyed black pudding (English blood sausages) and wanted to share this new fondness with my family. The rice certainly did the trick and absorbed the flavors leaving a soft and pleasant after taste in our mouths. Success!! My glass of Sangria was refreshing, not too sweet, and one could taste the alcohol. I gave in to my greed and ordered another one. Open to suggestions, we took the sweet waitress’s up for root vegetables fritters filled with ground beef. Yet another winner.
Now on to Puerto Rico’s specialty, Mofongos – Green plantains with fresh garlic and pork cracklings served with your choice of meat/seafood. We chose the marinated pork chunks with onions and Shrimp and Octopus in garlic sauce. To the likes of us who haven’t grown up with this tasty staple, Mofongo is basically crushed green plantains served like mashed potatoes but with toppings. (A great option for when one has had an exceptionally late night partying.) The pork was marinated well and was quite flavorful. However, it seemed a bit dry with the plantains. In contrast the Octopus and Shrimp in garlic sauce was much relished. The sauce was swept in the plantains keeping the entire dish moist. (Or maybe I enjoy gravy with my carbs.)
We also ordered the marinated beef steak with onions and peppers. Maybe it was the poor quality cut of meat or perhaps the steak was not marinated long enough with spices? The only part of the dish I enjoyed was the rice and beans.
While waiting for our meal, I couldn’t help notice a cheese and fruit dish on many tables. Our waitress promptly informed us that it is candied papaya and fresh cheese (house special). It was a great idea. Caramelized papaya slices with fresh cheese, certainly a palate cleanser. A refreshing and simple end to the meal.
The experience was without doubt well worth the hike. For all those adventurous souls out there who crave variety, do stop by at Guavate to relish the taste of Puerto Rico right here in Orlando.