Jeannette Rivera-Lyles /www.NonaHoodNews.com
Call it the perfect maritage, a match made in heaven or fusion cuisine, Meson Sandwiches has taken a good ole’ American standard and reinterpreted with Caribbean flair. The results are original and delicious sandwiches that will make your taste buds happy. Even better, they will soon be in our neighborhood as Meson is coming this March to the Nonahood area.
The Puerto Rico-based restaurant chain, which Travel + Leisure magazine designated as one of the best fast casual chains in the world, will open its newest Central Florida location in Lee Vista, across from the Home Goods store and near Epic Theaters. For added convenience, the stand-alone store will have a drive thru.
“This is our fourth Central Florida location and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Felipe Perez, Meson Sandwiches president and cofounder. “This community has welcomed us with open arms and has made each one of our stores a success. We are looking forward to making delicious, fresh sandwiches infused with island flair, for our Lake Nona neighbors.”
The other three locations are in 1010 West Osceola Pkwy., Kissimmee, The Florida Mall and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets.
Meson’s menu offerings are diverse and plentiful. The base for all sandwiches is Meson’s famous criollo bread, toasted on the grill just long enough to be flaky and crisp on the outside, and fluffy and slightly sweet in the inside. Another signature element is a nice heap of crunchy, shredded cabbage instead of lettuce in all of its sandwiches, which adds another layer of texture. What meats you choose to place on the delicious cabbage bed, it’s up to you. But let’s just say that the Rotisserie Chicken and Virginia Ham sandwiches are to die for. If you are in a more adventurous mood, don’t miss the Picante Pepper Steak (roast beef, spicy house pepper sauce and swiss cheese), the Caribe (rotisserie chicken, Virginia ham, sautéed onions and melted Swiss cheese), or the Cubano (seasoned roast pork, Virginia ham, pickles and swiss cheese).
Natural fries are readily available to go with anything you want, but we recommend substituting once in a while for sorullitos, slightly sweet Puerto Rican corn fritters shaped almost like small ladyfingers cookies. They come with a tangy garlicky sauce on the side for dunking. Is your mouth watering yet?
“We will not disappoint,” Perez said. “We treat our guests as if they were our family and make every effort for our dining rooms to be an extension of theirs.”
Meson is a great breakfast destination as well. It boasts of serving only “serious coffee”, grown in the mountains of Puerto Rico in small batches by families of growers that have being doing so for generations. Whether you favor an espresso, a café con leche or a cortadito, this coffee is sure to knock your socks off. Delicious Caribbean style hot cereals and fresh pastries complete the morning offerings.
The story of Meson goes back almost 45 years to Aguadilla, a small coastal town in Puerto Rico’s northwest. Felipe Perez, senior, opened a small sandwich shop to cater to the locals as well as to the steady influx of tourists, many of them American surfers. Beaches in Aguadilla are well known for world quality surfing waves. The older Perez was familiar with New York City’s Jewish style delis, and incorporated some of their elements -hence the cabbage and deli meats like roast beef- into his sandwiches. He infused his creations with the seasonings and cooking styles of his native Caribbean region. Customers’ response was overwhelmingly positive. Today, Meson has 37 stores in the island.
“We poured our heart into what we do, extend great customer service to our guests and become an active and responsible member of the communities where we are,” Perez said. “That’s the not so secret of our success.”