I pass Valisa Bakery (https://www.valisabakery.net/) every day on my way to and from work. It’s a Puerto Rican bakery that serves breakfast, lunch, and plenty of pastries and other snacks and sweets, and it’s another one of Orlando’s little treasures. This week, my co-worker had heard about a pulpo (octopus) sandwich they serve, so it sounded like a perfect opportunity to return, bring back takeout lunch for both of us, and finally review a place I’ve always enjoyed on my past visits.
This was her pulpo sandwich ($11.95), with chunks of tender octopus marinated in a citrus vinaigrette, with lettuce and tomato on fresh pressed bread. She wasn’t expecting it to be served chilled like ceviche, but it looked and sounded really refreshing, like a great summer sandwich.
I decided to finally try a tripleta ($8.50), the Puerto Rican sandwich that is great late-night drunk food and just as good in the middle of a workday when you don’t even drink. Tripletas can have infinite variations, as long as there are three meats on it. This one had thin-sliced, sauteed steak, roast pork, and sliced ham, served on a soft, fluffy, fresh roll with lettuce, tomato, garlic sauce (awesome), and creamy mayo-ketchup — an awesome combination. It was so big and heavy, I only ate half at work and finished it at home that night.
I was intrigued by the daily lunch specials, especially a Thursday special called canoas. I had to look it up, but canoas are sweet fried whole plantains, cut down the middle, stuffed with seasoned ground beef like picadillo, topped with a white cheese, and baked until it melts, so they look like little canoes. With that in mind, I was ready to take a canoe trip. I ordered two canoas ($3.50 each), not knowing how big they would be, but they were huge. My co-worker and I each had one, and I loved them. They reminded me of pastelon, my favorite Puerto Rican dish that I’ve had, which is kind of like a lasagna but with layers of sweet plantains instead of pasta sheets. Canoas were like single servings of pastelon.
Any good Latin restaurant should have great rice that is better than the rice I can make at home, and Valisa Bakery was no exception. I tried their yellow rice, which looked and tasted more like fried rice, rich from being cooked with pieces of pork, including rich, fatty chicharron. I have a hard time going anywhere and not trying macaroni salad or pasta salad, so I tried an eight-ounce container of ensalada de coditos ($2) and was glad I did. It was a creamy macaroni salad (but not runny at all), and the elbow noodles were very al dente. Of course I shared this too!
Finally, I already knew that Valisa Bakery baked some really good quesitos -sweet, flaky pastries stuffed with cream cheese that are like the beautiful love child of a glazed croissant and a cheese danish. I have an unimpeachable favorite destination for quesitos in Orlando, but Valisa is my second-favorite, and these quesitos ($2 each) were not disappointing.
So as you can tell, Valisa Bakery is more than just a bakery. It’s a great bakery, but it’s also a breakfast joint, a cafeteria with rotating daily hot lunch specials, a deli with a scintillating selection of sandwiches, and a Puerto Rican restaurant where you can get tostones, mofongo, and more. And did I mention it’s a great bakery too? I have enjoyed it for years, so I’m a little ashamed it took me this long to return and write a long-overdue review.