You would expect the pinchos at a place called Willie’s Pinchos to be good. And they are. The barbecue skewers are impressively large, even before you consider the ridiculously reasonable three dollar charge. And the pork version that I had had a nice smoky flavor and a bit of sweetness from the barbecue sauce coating.
It was rather plainly presented — just the skewer of meat and some toasted Cuban bread. Apparently one is meant to either gnaw the meat off the skewer or pull it off using a slice of bread as a sort of potholder.
The pincho was good, but the Jibarito I also had was so much better, at least once I was able to find a way to eat it.
A jibarito is a sandwich that is made with two tostones, flattened and fried green plantains, where ordinary sandwich makers would use bread. You have the choice of which meats go between the plantains, or, if you’re indecisive like I am, you may have a combo. I chose steak and pastrami for mine and the meats were loaded in. So were the tomatoes, melted cheese, garlic sauce and mayo ketchup. Lettuce, too.
It was quite impossible to pick up to eat, and only a flimsy plastic knife was provided, which literally couldn’t cut it.
So I asked for the jibarito to go — a paper “boat” to slide into a brown paper bag — and took it home where I could employ proper knife and fork to it.
It was still messy, but it was as delicious as it was unusual.
I visited the Willie’s on North Goldenrod Road in Orlando, but there’s another location in Kissimmee. The Orlando restaurant’s decor consists mostly of vintage Coca-cola signs, plus the requisite signed poster of Guy Fieri, who featured Willie’s on his Food Network program “Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.” The space is very small and a bit unkempt, but the people were friendly and accommodating (except for the flatware issue).
The restaurant is in a small strip mall just north of Colonial Avenue and sits between a barber shop and a tax preparer, so technically you can get a haircut on either side.
When I was getting the things to package up my jibarito, I got a glimpse of the mofongo. I’m going back just to try that.
Willie’s Pinchos is at 1718 N. Goldenrod Road, Orlando, It is open for lunch and early dinner Tuesday through Sunday. There is only a Facebook page and it includes no menu link; see the photos below. The phone number is 407-601-3373.