Having lived in Miami for twenty plus years, I have had more than my fair share of Latin cuisine. With those years, and taste testing experience, I believe myself to be a pretty good judge of it too. So, on one Saturday afternoon (post rock climbing session), some friends and I were wandering down Central Avenue, in St. Petersburg, in search of some calorie rich food. To my surprise, we stumbled upon a quaint little place called Bodega. It is a rustic street side cafe, serving up Latin infused cuisine. I must admit that my first reaction was a judgmental one, thinking to myself, that there was no way, that this was even coming close to my Miami cafes.
Bodega serves up various Latin style: sandwiches, platters, juices, and side orders. Alongside other traditional items like cortaditos, coladas, pastelitos, all displayed on a simple menu that is handwritten on a chalk board. I ordered the lechon sandwich, the sweet and spicy slaw, a guava and cheese pastelito (to share), and one of their soda frescas. We sat at the rear of the cafe, in their quaint little court-yard that is nicely shaded and kept cool with fans. Splashing some hot sauce over the sandwich, I dug into the feast before me. The lechon sandwich was warm and toasty, filled with tender pork that was doused in garlic, cilantro, and other spices. It just oozed with goodness. The slaw was fresh, crisp, and was beautifully flavored, to give it the sweet and spicy balance. The pastelito was warm and flaky, perfectly filled with gooey guava and cheese. I was in heaven!
So, I stand corrected on my prejudgment, as it is truly the best I have ever had! Whenever I am in the area, it is a must have meal for me. When I am not in the area and get a craving for this delightful feast, it is almost debilitating.