Zaza New Cuban Diner (Orlando, FL)

Much of my recent business travel has been to Florida, and that generally gives me a chance to get one of my favorite cuisines: Cuban food. However, while Orlando is a relatively short drive from Miami (which is loaded up with Cuban places), it only has a smattering of Cuban places itself, but there’s at least one small, local chain (~3 restaurants) that’s attempting to remedy that… enter Zaza New Cuban Diner.

Zaza is basically running a fast, friendly, and welcoming diner-style restaurant, with the location I visited being in a light commercial area of Curry Ford Road that’s nestled between two fairly quiet neighborhoods, so at 8:30 am when we rolled in, the place was pretty quiet. Walking up to the counter (Zaza uses the counter service model, with you taking a number after you order), the breakfast menu is basically your standard Cuban fare: all sorts of coffee drinks (Zaza’s spends more than a little effort on their coffee, offering a full suite of several drip coffee and espresso-based drinks), omelets, egg sandwiches, and even a breakfast-sized palomilla steak.

The dinner menu has all of the basic Cuban dishes as well, with vaca frita, ropa vieja, picadillo, and lechon asada, with a healthy array of Cuban sides (the obligtatory black beans, tostones, fried plaintains, rice, and the lice). While I’m pretty sure I could have ordered some of the dinner dishes, I opted to do a breakfast, ordering a cortado and a breakfast sandwich with ham, peppers, onions, tomatoes and cheese.

After a few minutes enjoying my cortado (a nice, strong cup with a robust dark roast and just enough cream to soften it a bit), my sandwich arrived, and I was quite pleased. A fresh, to-order scramble, this was a nice little egg patty with generous chunks of ham, peppers, and onions in it, with just a bit of cheese oozing over it. Combined with the perfectly light and crispy Cuban bread, this was a great way to start off the day.

My coworker, newly-introduced to Cuban food, instead did the egg plate combo with a ham omelet, served up with a side fries and more of the great Cuban bread. His results were pretty much the same as mine: a pleasantly-done omelet with some good ham in it.

Overall, I liked Zaza’s, for a regional chain the food was quite good, and the staff very efficient and pleasant. I’ll have to make sure to visit some time and try out their dinner menu, because I always adore a proper vaca frita.

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