For some, the thought of purchasing a meal from a trailer parked behind a dingy Marathon gas station on a busy intersection might conjure up visions of dysentery. But for others, particularly the city's Puerto Rican populace, that trailer equates to nothing short of street-food heaven.
Named after a picturesque seaside hang east of San Juan, Piñones en Orlando is a popular draw for Latino club kids jonesing for a late-night/early-morning nosh, as well as the noontime crowd, many of whom resort to parking across the street because of the dearth of parking spots available behind the gas station. During busier times, it's not unusual to see three cooks manning the cramped kitchen, styrofoaming and cupping traditional P.R. fare. Pork may be the meat of choice on the Caribbean isle, but the focus here is on seafood.
Mofongo relleno, a heap of garlic-flecked, mashed green plantains stuffed with your choice of anything from conch to lobster, is one of Puerto Rico's national dishes. It's a dense and filling concoction that won't suit all tastes, but it's made here from scratch. Lighter appetites might prefer cocktail cups called vasitos, seafood in a seasoned marinade of oil, garlic, onion and green pepper. The shrimp version ($6), with about 15-20 plumpers, is utterly refreshing on sweltering days. Asopao (a hearty gumbo with your choice of chicken or shellfish), whole fried snapper and a host of other daily specials are also offered.
Talk about your good P.R.
(Piñones en Orlando, southwest corner of Conway Road and Curry Ford Road, 321-438-0910; cash only)firstname.lastname@example.org