If you haven't had a chance to start exploring your options for Orlando Restaurant Week yet, let me give you some incentive to begin:
ZaZa New Cuban Diner has, hands down, the most awesome deal going this year, and the food is fantastic.
For just $10 you get TWO complete meals – platters – as described on their Restaurant Week prix fixe menu. You get to choose your entrees in pairs: Mojo chicken and vaca frita, lechon asada and grilled tilapia, or ropa vieja and palomilla steak. Pick your pair, select your sides for each entree (black or red beans, yellow or white rice, tostones or maduros) and try not to get too distracted by the pastries in the bakery-case window until after you've finished your meal – because you'll have enough food to stuff yourself silly, and you may need to take those pastries to-go.
We ordered a couple of platters, and our favorite dishes were – by far – the ropa vieja and the vaca frita. The ropa – shredded beef simmered in a rich but not heavy sauce with onions and peppers – is so tender that it practically melts in your mouth. The sauce is a little tangy but not too tomato-y, and even a little bit delicate. The vaca frita, meanwhile, is a piece of shredded, braised beef that's crispy on the outside, flavorful and sweet on the inside, served over a bed of sauteed sweet onions. I suspect I will be haunting this place over the next few weeks, while Restaurant Week continues.
And seriously – $10! If you haven't tried ZaZa yet, there's no better excuse to get down there than this deal. While you're there, try the Cuban pastries (guava cream cheese quesitos, Mayorcan sweet bread) and the coffee, which is a signature blend roasted in Longwood. We picked up a pound to take home before we left.
Check out ZaZa's Restaurant Week menu here. And don't forget: Restaurant Week has been extended through the entire month of May. For a complete list of restaurants and menus, check out orlandorestaurantweek.com. To read our review of ZaZa, back when it was still called YaYa's Cuban Cafe, click here.