When it comes to finding legitimately delicious Cuban food I always thought that I had one of two options. One, that I had to drive three and a half hours to Miami where you know that there is good Cuban food at every street corner. Or two, that I had to actually go to Cuba. That is… until I had the opportunity to eat at Black Bean Deli.
At first, Black Bean Deli (BBD) seems overshadowed by the Chipotle that is located very close to it on South Orlando Avenue and Fairbanks. BBD is small and is more of a “take-it-to-go” type of place. Along with this, it isn’t too flashy, instead, it goes for a minimalistic, yet very homey vibe. It screams both “cool” and “urban.” It is definitely one of those places that you have to go out of your way to discover, but once you get to, you realize that it is worth it.
It comes without saying that one of its “pros” is that BBD is that it is a local business. When I walked inside, I immediately noticed that the staff is young, charming, and welcoming. I could tell right off the bat that the food was being prepared by people who care and love what they are serving to their customers.
On that particular day, I ordered the white Spanish Baked Chicken platter with yellow rice, black beans, a fresh salad. The chicken was juicy and cooked really well—I could tell that they took their time to cook it just right. The salad was fresh and served with their “secret formula” green dressing which is both zesty and sweet. The yellow rice and black beans were, of course, delicious as well. Also, I had the option of choosing a side of either sweet plantains or Tostones (fried plantain slices). I chose the Tostones. Why? These aren’t just any Tostones, they are lightly seasoned with a garlic and salt marinade that literally makes you go “mmmhmmm” out loud.
What I love the most about BBD is that it is authentic. The owner, Andres Corton, is Cuban and the food… well, it doesn’t taste like American food that tries to be like Cuban food. It tastes like Cuban food that doesn’t have to try because it is just that good.
“Our most popular dish is the Cuban Sandwich which consists of sweet ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese and pickles,” said Kevin Gomez, employee of BBD.
To add to the authenticity, they offer Mexican Coca-Cola, tropical juices, Latin sodas, Orangina, and even coconut water, along with other usual refreshments.
As for the desserts, they offer Tres Leches, Flan, and even Guava pastries. Moreover, if you’re just looking for a snack, then BBD is great because they offer empanadas (turnovers stuffed with different meats and seasonings), and Papas Rellenas (stuffed potato balls), all made there.
My favorite aspect of BBD was that, during my time dining there, I observed that the place is always packed. Its authenticity is bringing in all types of individuals, not just Hispanic–folks. I think this is great because I personally don’t feel comfortable with Chipotle or Pollo Tropical or god forbid, Taco Bell being the only representatives of Latin American food. Finally, there is a contender that is bringing people of all types of different cultures in to try what Cuban food is really like! To that extent, BBD has become so popular another location opened at 1835 East Colonial Drive; the venue is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In conclusion, I was very satisfied and even dare to say that it is something that your “Abuelita” would be proud to say that she made.