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It’s Friday night and I’m ready for something new to eat! A friend suggested Guavate, supposedly the best Puerto Rican restaurant in Orlando. I admit I was a bit skeptical because that’s subjective. Recently, I’ve been to a few restaurants where I was simply let down. Still, I’ll try to be as optimistic as possible! I hadn’t anything about it before but my friend adamantly stands behind it and since he was raised in Puerto Rico, he ought to know what he’s talking about.
The restaurant itself is located on Alafaya Trail, a little bit past Lake Underhill Road. It’s located in the shopping plaza close to King Tut’s Lounge. There is outdoor seating available but it’s about to get dark soon so I’ll gladly sit inside instead. As I enter, I immediately notice the warm colors. I would describe the decor as simplistic, not too much going busyness going on. We were immediately seated and our server was friendly. There are weekday lunch specials which were accordingly priced, but I heard it’s a hit-or-miss thing. Luckily, I’m here for dinner so I shouldn’t have any problems there! There was a good variety of items on the menu. What to choose, what to choose….
As I’m still looking over the menu, the server brings out some bread. Nice warm, slightly garlicky bread. MMMM… bread. We also got some red sangria. Now, if you haven’t had sangria, it’s delicious! Sangria is a wine punch, traditionally red but it does come in a white variety. With the red sangria, it’ll be a deeper flavor since it’s made with red wine. Every place makes it differently, so you could have a really strong sangria or a really fruity one. This time, it was more fruity than I’ve usually had it but I definitely enjoyed it nonetheless.
The first dish is up! The Surtido Aperitivos de Mariscos (seafood appetizer platter) consisted of four items with some mayo-ketchup and house hot sauce on the side. The bacalaitos (codfish fritters), alcapurrias de mariscos (root vegetable fritters), pastelillitos de mariscos (seafood turnovers) , sorullitos de maîz (cornmeal fritters). The salty codfish fritters look like little firm discs. The root vegetable fritters were my least favorite items of the evening. It looked like sausages that really didn’t have a distinctive taste aside from the root vegetables. I really didn’t even taste the seafood mixture. Typically, it’s much thicker with more dough and meat inside. I don’t recommend the alcapurrias de mariscos. The seafood turnovers were a tasty little treat stuffed with fish inside. Next up were the cornmeal fritters, soft, sweet and slightly salty. I enjoyed it with the mayo-ketchup. For those who enjoy hot sauces, the hot sauce here was quite deceptive. It’s a light colored sauce but it definitely packs a punch!!
I’m barely done with my appetizers when I notice an enormous plate. It’s my mofongo! Oh, it looks delicious. I’ve had mofongo once before in Tampa and I remembered it was very tasty. Mofongo is essentially fried green plantains mashed and served with a variety of toppings. This evening, I had the Camarones al Ajillo (shrimp in garlic sauce). Seriously, this easily feeds 2 people. The flavorful was garlicky, my shrimp was cooked perfectly. It was all around an excellent dish. I was like a child with excitement when my fork went through the middle of my mofongo, for I found even more shrimp! AHHHH!!! SHRIMP!! I definitely was a happy camper. I think the only thing I wished was that I had more chicharronnes (pork cracklings aka pork rinds). The little crispy pieces tasted so good with the garlic sauce. I think I love pork rinds almost as much as bacon. Almost. Oh, how I easily get sidetracked when it comes to bacon. Anyhow, this dish I definitely recommend getting. But word to the wise, get someone to share this with you, unless you decided to wear your stretchy pants.
My friend ordered the Plato Navideño. It’s the “Christmas dish” that comes with pigeon peas and rice, roasted pork shoulder and a pastel. I told you this place has great portions! The rice was pretty ok, nothing spectacular. The pork itself was nicely cooked, good flavor. It definitely tasted like pork (as it should). When it came to the pastel, well, I don’t how I feel about it. It had a dough made from assorted vegetables with pieces of stewed meat inside. It was slightly reminiscent of sweet potato. Overall, it’s a soft texture with pieces of pork and chickpeas inside. It was my first experience with this, I wouldn’t say I disliked it nor would I say I enjoyed. It was different. Perhaps, something to revisit. I’ve had food somewhat like it with Filipino food, so, it wasn’t that strange for me.
I defnitely want to try dessert so I’ll have to put the main entree aside. There are seven different dessert items listed, which is a lot compared to most places. I’ve narrowed it down to three but at this point, I don’t know if I can even finish one. The Tembleque sounds interesting. “Coconut jellylike custard.” Hmm. I like coconut and I like custard. Ok, why not? I don’t think custard is the right description for it. I would say it’s more of a firm pudding. If you’ve had Chinese Almond Jello, it’s like that but more. I did enjoy the coconut flavor and the cinnamon on top was a great addition.
All in all, I’m stuffed! Everything was really good aside from the alcapurrias de mariscos. I had great service, great food, and a great time here!