Bem Bom on Corrine (https://bembomfood.com) is a cute and cool restaurant in Orlando’s hip, foodie-friendly Audubon Park neighborhood that specializes in Mexican and Portuguese cuisines (but separate, not a funky fusion of the two). Conceptualized by Chef Francisco “Chico” Mendonça, Bem Bom (Portuguese for “Good Good”) started out as a food truck before opening its brick and mortar location in 2018. My first visit was way back in June, but since I was alone and in a hurry that night, I only ordered one dish and a drink.
They have a nice outdoor patio facing Corrine Drive, with some singular shops and other restaurants directly across the street.
This drink was listed on the menu as Portuguese Sumol Passion Fruit ($2.75), and I love passion fruit-flavored anything. I was relieved to find out it was non-alcoholic, so I treated myself. The lightly-carbonated beverage tasted good and surprisingly natural and juicy, despite having the weird, dry aftertaste that Sucralose-sweetened drinks often have. I probably wouldn’t order it again, but I’m glad I tried it once.
These were my three tacos al pastor ($13), a dinner special with marinated pork in adobo sauce, pineapple, and a sauce made with arbol chiles and tomatillos, double-wrapped in soft, fresh corn tortillas. I have a hard time turning down tacos al pastor whenever I find them on a Mexican menu, and these were excellent, garnished simply with finely-chopped cilantro, diced onion, and a lime wedge.
I finally went back with two work colleagues today, so I could try more things. We started out with excellent crispy tortilla chips, served with extremely fresh-tasting guacamole (some of the better guac I’ve had, for $9) and salsa that was actually spicy.
I’ve been hearing great things about the pasteis de bacalhau, or cod fritters ($9.95), for a long time now, so I had to try them. They came with a small arugula salad tossed in a light lemony dressing, and creamy, cooling jalapeño ranch for dipping (which wasn’t spicy at all).
These were extremely hot (temperature-wise, not spice-wise), but they had a very light, crispy exterior and weren’t overly greasy. The flaky cod on the inside wasn’t as strongly seasoned as I was hoping for (I was craving something spicy, like the devil crabs of Tampa), but at least it was pleasantly mild and not overly fishy. They really didn’t need the jalapeño ranch, which is fine, because I used it elsewhere.
One of my colleagues ordered frango de churrasco, half a bone-in chicken marinated in tangy piri-piri marinade and grilled ($13.95). It was served with a beautiful small salad and hearty fries, which I ended up eating most of, dipping them in the jalapeño ranch. I can’t let a good sauce, condiment, or dip go to waste. Awww, dip!
I don’t think he ate the croutons, but they looked house-made, and I probably should have asked for them.
My other colleague ordered the smoked chicken enchiladas ($13.95), which came with white rice and black beans. The two enchiladas included apples and onions wrapped up with the smoked shredded chicken in corn tortillas, topped with red and green chile sauces. I tried the tiniest morsel, and it was really good. I would definitely order these enchiladas for myself in the future.
She wasn’t feeling the beans, so with complete disregard for my co-workers’ welfare later in the afternoon, I had to sample them. They were pretty basic black beans.
And last, but far from least, I ordered the pork prego sandwich ($11.95): six-hour braised pork, onions, peppers, pico de gallo, radish, cilantro, and serrano sauce served on a crusty Portuguese roll. It was an incredible sandwich. Lots of good flavors and textures, saucy, and pleasantly spicy. I’ve written before how much I hate overly-hard rolls that shatter when you bite into them, spewing crumbs and cutting up the inside of your mouth, but this roll wasn’t like that at all. The delicious, spicy juices from the pork softened up the inside. It was a juicy sandwich in the best possible way. 10/10, would order again.
Some of Bem Bom’s other delicacies include highly-recommended queso dip to go with the chips, rock shrimp tacos, mango-“painted” fish tacos, duck meatballs, a lamb burger, and a pan-seared filet mignon topped with prosciutto, a fried egg, and a beer-based sauce. I’ve heard about other limited-time specials, including an intriguing octopus dish that wasn’t on the menu at lunch today. And they even serve brunch on Sundays!
As you can hopefully see by now, Bem Bom has a creative and eclectic menu in fun, funky surroundings. I would totally go back, especially because it’s only ten minutes from where we work. Plus, you have Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream, one of my Top Two local ice cream shops, right across the street, and our first local food hall, the East End Market, moments away. That immediate stretch of Corrine Drive also hosts some of Orlando’s coolest establishments like Park Avenue CDs (my favorite local music store, even if I feel woefully uncool whenever I shop there), Stardust Video and Coffee*, which hosts the Audubon Park Community Market on Monday nights, and Big Daddy’s (a karaoke bar I can never get anyone to accompany me to).
* Who else used to rent videos from Stardust back in the day? When I first moved to Orlando, the place blew my mind. It was the first video store I had ever been to that specialized in independent, cult, and art films, and it organized them by director and/or country of origin for foreign films. Totally warmed this nerdy librarian’s heart.