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Brasa Latina is Lakeland's First Stop for Creative Caribbean Fusion

By Kelly Church

Labeled as "Puertorrican & International Cuisine," Brasa Latina is a Lakeland, FL restaurant inspired by Puerto Rican culinary traditions and flavors. Chef and owner Jose Vicente started his career in Puerto Rico and developed a menu described as Caribbean fusion, based off of his culinary learning in the region. The restaurant is designed with an open kitchen so guests can see their food being prepared.

"Puerto Rican cuisine has its root in the cooking traditions and practices of Spain, Africa and the native Taínos," Vicente says. "It's very rich in flavors using many roots, fruits and vegetables. Today, we have many influences around the world because of our tourism, culinary arts education, many chefs from around the world working in hotel chains and the Internet."

The menu at Brasa Latina features soup, salads, appetizers, chicken, fish, sandwiches and more. Favorites include the skirt steak mofongo, a mash of green plantains with butter, bacon and red wine chimichurri; the sweet plantain lasagna; arroz manposteado with annatto rice, beans, ham, pork, chorizo and sweet plantains; and paella. Other, more standard, menu options are a beef burger with American cheese, a pulled pork sandwich, a crispy chicken sandwich and a Cuban sandwich with shredded pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.

Vicente says with the success of Brasa Latina, he and his partner Luis Soto are looking into opening more locations in Kissimmee or Orlando in the future. The Lakeland restaurant is open Monday through Sunday, starting at 11AM and closing after dinner.

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