It doesn’t have to be midnight for Park Avenue patrons to enjoy a medianoche sandwich ($4.50) at Authentic Cuban Café on Morse Boulevard in Winter Park. Mothers with strollers stand alongside businessmen in Armani sunglasses just to get a taste of the sweet, hot pressed bread, made in-house and filled with the traditional Cuban sandwich accoutrements: two kinds of ham, Spanish pork, Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles.
The lechon asado sandwich ($5.50) is a powerful combination of spicy mojo-marinated roasted pork on a chewy braided loaf. A choice of fries, beans or soup comes with each sandwich, but when I visited, the beans had a distinct burned taste and the fries were undersalted (let’s face it, a good fry is hard to find these days). Go with the black bean soup ($2.50 a la carte) instead. Smoky and thick, a topping of diced onions and a little rice made it almost a meal in itself. If there isn’t anywhere to sit inside, which is likely as the restaurant comfortably seats only 20, walk across the street to the park and munch on an empanada or two ($1.50 for two) under the live oaks.
Authentic Cuban Café’s desserts are a transcendental experience, if you don’t mind the impending cavities. The flan vanille ($3.20) was a perfectly executed creamy custard with a thin layer of caramel – firm and velvety. If you’re into masochism, order the tres leches ($3), a cruelly sweet white cake drenched in sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream. All desserts are between two and four dollars and well worth it. Just be sure to brush afterward.