Finally, a change from the regular humdrum and onto a new and never-tried cuisine in Orlando. Taste of Yucatán just opened three weeks ago. It's located not far from the busy intersection of Semoran and Curry Ford. How often do you try an establishment that specializes in regional Mexican cuisine? Unless you are shopping at a local mexican store with a side kitchen serving hot food, the answer is probably not that often.
The building is rather unassuming. To be honest, it used to be a Church's Chicken property before it traded hands. When we arrived, the parking lot had but a few cars and I have to say, I was a little concerned this was not what I had hoped for.
My reservations about this place melted away as soon as we entered. The restaurant was clean, well lit, minimally decorated, and the ordering counter had 3 flat screens that effectively (and efficiently) described the ordering process while giving ample visual examples of their dishes from one slide to next. To top it off, we had the owner, Joal Rodriguez, take our order with a big smile. His willingness to help make our experience as best as it could get really impressed me as he truly went out of his way to make sure we were satisfied while placing our order.
The process is simple- choose a 'presentation' (taco, quesadilla, bowl, etc.) and the 'filling' that would reside on or in your presentation (mayan-style pork, cheese, chorizo, poblano peppers, etc.). There are appetizers as well... and get this, nothing on the menu is more than $7 per order. Talk about a deal.
We ordered quite a bit- some panuchos (a Yucatán specialty made by deep-frying a corn tortilla stuffed with refried beans), some tamales, some quesadillas, freshly made guacamole, and a mexican tamarind-flavored soda.
I have to say, everything- and I mean everything- was delicious. Granted, I'm not a connoisseur of Yucatec cuisine or culture, but it's that feeling you get regardless of expertise when you know something has been made with care, consideration, quality, and love.
I loved the papas con chorizo filling (potatoes and spicy sausage) on my panucho. Contrary to expectation, I didn't see chorizo bits in the mashed potato mixture- rather, the chorizo was completely incorporated into the potatoes to give it an orange-brown hue which permeated that classic spicy sausage taste evenly.
The vaporsitos (beef tamales scented with wrapped banana leaves) were a little bit on the denser side (I like my tamales soft and very moist) and they had a cake-like consistency. The flavor was milder than what I had expected, but after adding some freshly made salsa verde and homemade spicy sauce of ground chile de árbol in oil, that too disappeared down my throat.
For all you pork lovers, the Cochinita Pibil quesadilla was very good. If I had a second stomach, I would have ordered another one of these. The flour tortillas were pillowy soft and the pulled pork was succulent and mildly spiced while enrobed in a gorgeous thick brown sauce. Add some fresh cilantro, minced onions, and a couple wedges of lime from the condiment area on the counter, and you'll make quick work of this divine dish in minutes.
The guacamole was exceedingly fresh and come in a 5oz container. For something that would cost $8-$10 easily at a fine dining Mexican restaurant, The Taste of Yucatán serves this delicious made-to-order appetizer for a meager $4.50 with a side of tortillas and free unlimited toppings (crema, salsas, pico de gallo, lime wedges, etc.).
IN A NUTSHELL: Go to this place before the crowds rush in and change it's dynamic. That's because everything is made in-house and it is highly evident that they take great pride in their Yucatec background. So, if the place gets busy, food wait times may become longer. This is a great place for a quick office meal during the work week if you want to surprise your co-workers by breaking the routine of the usual franchise restaurants. This restaurant offers a cheap bite for any curious foodie that wants to explore their palate without breaking the bank. I highly recommend this place at this time as I'm digging the owners enthusiasm to bring a little bit of the Yucatán to Orlando. I wish this restaurant great success as I was delightfully surprised how good the food, service, and the bill were.
Cochinita quesadilla, Papas con chorizo panucho, and tamales
Made-to-order guacamole with chips. I drizzled the crema and added on the condiments later. The owners special hot sauce (chile de árbol in oil) is on the top right corner of the basket.
An hot and crispy empanada. More panuchos (this time with sautéed poblanos and corn, and another with Yucatán-style pulled pork). Barbacoa quesadilla (only $3.50).
Tamarind soda. Try it. It's made with 100% real sugar.