Hangin’ Out At…Cafe Tu Tu Tango
Cafe Tu Tu Tango doesn’t feel like it belongs on I-Drive, nestled among the outlet stores, world’s largest McDonalds and tacky T-shirt shops. It would seem more at home on Restaurant Row or Park Ave. Yet there it sits, and has for twenty years.
Tu Tu Tango is a tapas-bar-meets-art-gallery and the results are delightful. I hadn’t made it out there in years, but paid a visit on my birthday and both Hubby and I (he had never been) came away highly impressed.
First up, the food. Tapas, for those who aren’t familiar, is a style of eating based on ‘small plates.’ You order small-ish portions from their long list of options (instead of a single ginormous portion), and the food is meant to be shared. And share we did!
The $6 Mushrooms Rockefeller had mushrooms and cheese baked in a cream sauce, topped with breadcrumbs. Tasty, but could’ve used “a little something.” Garlic, maybe? There was so much food that took some of this home, and when I put it over pasta the next day for lunch, it was delicious, so maybe it just needed time for the flavors to come together.
The $8 fried Shrimp and Chicken Potstickers (they can also come steamed) came with black and white sesame seeds and a dipping sauce (which I wasn’t in the mood for, so I can’t tell you if it was soy sauce or something else). They were good, but I would’ve liked them a tiny bit crispier.
Keeping with the mushroom theme, we also got the Baby Portabella Mushroom and Spinach Flatbread ($10). One of my favorites, due to the copious amounts of cheese dreamily melted on top. I was pleased that the flatbread held its shape well (some flatbreads are a little too crunchy and break apart, making for a messy experience) and there was more than enough to go around.
The real piece de resistance was the goat cheese dip ($8). This was my first time eating goat cheese, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as creamy and flavorful as it was.
It spread smoothly and evenly on the crispy garlic toast and paired beautifully with the marinara sauce. We devoured the whole plate in moments (and honestly, probably could’ve ordered another). I would return just for this dish, and may try to re-create it at home.
Dessert was…a little confusing, I’ll be honest ($9, I think). We ordered a cookie pizza. But what came out was more like a sundae that happened to have cookies. I honestly thought we were brought the wrong dish, until I re-read the menu description and discovered that all the components were there (ice cream, cookies, peanuts, chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream); they just weren’t put together the way we expected. To me, cookie pizza means the cookie is the foundation and everything else is layered on top. It was good, but I probably wouldn’t order it again.
Up next? The artistic side of Tu Tu Tango.
All the art is for sale, and the staff encourages you to wander around and enjoy the pieces.
Meet Jamie Meagher, an artist from Melbourne. Tu Tu Tango’s motto is “food for the starving artist,” and they allow artists to set up shop, so to speak, every day in one of several studio spots. Jamie is one of them. Not exactly sure how that would work (do they get paid? do they have to pay for the privilege?), I asked. He said that artists have a schedule just like the employees, and in return to adding ambiance, they’re given free food and a chance to display their craft. How cool is that?
The takeaway: Tu Tu Tango is a great place to celebrate a special occasion, to enjoy a romantic evening or to get away from it all on a Girls’ Night Out. I love that it’s out of the ordinary, with unique decor and dishes. And because their menu is so large, you could literally get something different every time you go.
Hours: Alas, I couldn’t find hours on their site. But you can make reservations through Open Table and I imagine if you get there around lunch or dinnertime hours, they’ll be more than happy to serve you!
Location: 8625 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819 (a map can be found here)
Menu: For their expansive menu, including descriptions, click here. The dessert we ordered isn’t listed, so I think the menu is changed up from time to time. It’s nice to keep things fresh.
Bonus: Tuesdays are Tu Tu Tuesdays, featuring live music and food/drink specials. I’ve also heard that there are dancers in residence, mostly on weekends, so try going on different nights for different experiences.