417 N. Alafaya Trail
If you're anything like me, choosing the cuisine of a struggling nation is some small show of solidarity, a kind of socio-political vote of confidence. While Spain's economy flounders, suffering from high unemployment and civil unrest, its cuisine is finding its feet here in Orlando. The Spanish "fast-food" franchise 100 Montaditos recently opened in the Waterford Lakes Town Center, and it's since been packed with college students looking to score dollar beer on Wednesdays and a little nosh to go with.
Although the menu offers a good selection of Spanish tapas such as warm olives, patatas bravas (meltingly soft potatoes in spicy red sauce) and a nicely assembled cheese plate, the montaditos are the thing to order. In Spain, a montadito is a small sandwich filled with any number of toppings, rolled up and served as an appetizer before a meal. At 100 Montaditos, there really are that many fillings for your mini sandwich – from traditional tastes such as Serrano ham, calamari, chorizo and piquillo peppers to meatballs, tuna salad and "Philly steak."
There's a kind of gradient to how the montaditos, which are about two and a half inches long, are priced ($1-$3): Some of the more delicious ones are in the least expensive category, like the fluffy Spanish omelette and piquant brava sauce montadito on super-hot, crusty Spanish bread ($1). We also really enjoyed the Brie, ham and arugula montadito on crunchy olive bread ($2.50), which was generously filled with thick slices of cheese and piled with ham. For a sweet ending, the chocolate and almond montadito on chocolate bread ($2.50) was a carboholic's dream dessert.
100 Montaditos features the Spanish beer Mahou, produced in Madrid (a bucket of five is $12); it's a full-flavored lager with orange and almond notes that's easy-drinking and pairs well with bold Spanish flavors like olives and cured meats. The bar might be the only place in town to find clara, the Iberian version of a shandy – half beer, half lemon-lime soda ($3.50). I usually drink my beer straight up, but I have to admit that a little sweetness and fizz seemed appropriate for an 80-degree February afternoon.
When I visited at an off-hour, the place was still pretty busy. We ended up waiting 10 minutes for a table, a setback tempered by an invitation to sit at the bar and sample the house-made sangria ($3). For the price many restaurants charge for a soda, 100 Montaditos serves a brandy-forward sangria that, while a little sweet for my taste, has proven popular.
I appreciated the service, as well; our server was present but not overly attentive or pushy, the food came out hot and rather quickly, and several of the staff thanked us as we left, a gesture too often left ignored. Among the upscale Spanish spots already established in this city, it was refreshing to visit a place that brought the tapas bar back to earth.