Restaurant Review: Orlando’s Café

Photo: Stacy Dermont

Orlando’s Café on Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays has been a popular breakfast spot for locals since it opened in 2004. Huevos rancheros is the hot ticket for the first meal of the day. It’s easy to see why—crispy corn tortillas smothered in eggs and black beans, with bits of sliced ham peaking through. Chef and co-owner Orlando Garbanzo bakes Brooklyn-style bagels every morning. They go fast. The atmosphere behind Orlando’s storefront windows is light-filled and relaxed. Many regulars kick back with the newspaper.

Orlando’s is also currently open for dinners on Fridays and Saturdays, with a promise of live music all evening. Special dinner entrées may include mussels, salmon and a rosemary chicken that a couple seated near us raved about. My husband and I ordered our usual, though—three pork tacos for him and three chicken tacos for moi. Our other “usuals” are the shrimp tacos and the Arroz Cantone (fried rice), a meat-riddled savory wallop that brings to mind a salty, rich jambalaya.

Garbanzo hails from Costa Rica and he’s not afraid to bring the heat. They don’t offer nachos at Orlando’s—which is a good sign—but serve fresh chips alongside a plate of hot sauces (watch out for “the green one”) and sour cream. We ordered two glasses of guanabana juice to fan the flames. (Rumor has it that Garbanzo keeps a herd of guanabana in a shed behind the restaurant, near the public park. Don’t believe it.) We had no room left for the housemade tres leches cake or even for the housemade mousse.

Expect a signature mélange of Mexican, Thai, French, Indian and Chinese influences from this colorful chef. Don’t be surprised if Garbanzo’s sneakers don’t match or if he sports a T-shirt that reads “I don’t need any designer telling me what to wear!” He’s a free spirit and many of his dishes are naturally gluten-free. I need to bring some of my GF friends to this down-home eatery so that I don’t have to try to cook for them!

Molly, the young waitress and cashier, solved a mystery for us. So many people nowadays complain that teenagers are inactive. Molly does the work of at least two kids. Maybe it’s her diet—she said her favorite menu items are the chorizo tacos and the steak tacos. I’ll drink to that!

Meals are also available to take out at Orlando’s Café, 40 West Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays, 631-728-2608.

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