Close to 40 years old, the Florida Classic is the largest HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) sporting event in the United States with over 1.5 million attendees since its first game in 1978. Last year, close to 50,000 fans packed the stadium to cheer on their favorite team!
Whether the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats or FAMU Rattlers comes out on top, one thing is for certain, the bands of these HBCUs are the real show. (Actually, considering the beautiful black and brown classy women attending this event, the bands may come second.)
Whether attending for the first time or the 39th, this annual showcase is a memorable experience for all. In preparation for the 2016 Florida Classic, I’m sharing two of my favorite Black Owned eateries. Both restaurants are located almost walking distance from the staging area of the game, so please go and show some love to these two black owned eateries.
CHEF EDDIE’S – 595 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32805 – (407) 826-1731
Chef Eddie’s is the largest soul food restaurant in Orlando, serving up amazing cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Husband/wife duo Chefs Eddie and Bessie James are the creators of the irresistible Chef Eddie’s. The two happily informed our team of their new and redesigned seafood menu, which caused Cameraman Joe, a devout pescatarian, to almost faint before going on an ordering frenzy. The very sophisticated shirt and tie clad server took our order and put it in at once.
I invited Chef Eddie and his lovely wife and partner to join us. The couple is just so cool and hospitable it made me feel like I was with my grandparents. Chef Eddie’s is a rather large restaurant that can handle huge crowds so our orders were coming out almost simultaneously. The sea devastation started with the Blackened Grouper ($14.95) with yellow rice, sweet potato casserole, and broccoli. The 8oz grouper was served with creamy seafood gravy that encroached over the yellow rice creating a marriage of southern goodness. The broccoli was seasoned and steamed to PERFECTION along with a sweet potato casserole topped with a seared marshmallow. OMG, this is so good, it could be a main dish.
We then tried the 3 LB of Garlic Crab dinner served in garlic butter, 1 LB of potatoes & 4oz sausage. This is a sharing dish, which I enjoyed. It’s simple and straight to the point. The flavor is very mild with a light garlic and buttery taste, steamed well with hint of garlic bursting through.
Next, the Louisiana Style Crawfish ($16.95) was served with 3 lbs of crawfish under a bed of sausage and potatoes. Not quite New Orleans, but still very tasty. If you like crawfish then you will not be disappointed.
Then there was the show stopper! The Broiled Seafood Triple Combo ($17.99) comes with a combination of shrimp, fish, and scallops, which are very good. I ordered a shrimp only basket and I have to tell you these three shrimps were THE BEST! I had shrimp stuffed with crab meat, blackened grilled shrimp, garlic butter shrimp, and finally I added a side of coconut shrimp – one of the best I’ve ever had. THE SHRIMP ARE A MUST HAVE!
Following this was the steamed Lobster Tail we added on the side because Cameramen Joe was curious. Again, this had a mild flavor and was cooked to a perfect texture. Next it was time for the MEAT! As a serious carnivore, I got in some meat dishes I hadn’t tried before. The Meatloaf Dinner ($11.95) comes with rice and 2 sides. This meatloaf dinner is the best value within the whole restaurant. It’s a MUST HAVE! Delectable gravy that is wine based with a savory and hearty taste is simply delicious.
Next was some real county s#$%! SWINE TIME! I ordered the Pig Tail Dinner ($11.95) served with rice and 2 sides. Straight out of a country farm somewhere in southern Georgia, these pig tails were a bit fatty but let me tell you, YOU WON’T REGRET THEM! I mean, each bite felt like I was getting an actual body massage. I loved these pig tails!
The final meal was a MUST HAVE! The Beef Short Ribs ($16.95) cooked in a 5 hour marinated red wine and vegetable sauce served with sautéed carrots rice, and 2 sides. Each bite was tender and bursting with flavor. If you’ve ever had Boeuf Bourguignon in a nice French spot, you will really enjoy this dish. One of the best items on the menu, and you won’t regret it.
JESSE’S RIB SHACK -2202 W Pine St, Orlando, FL 32805 – (407) 501-9299
Just a 5 minute drive from Eddie’s is Jesse’s Rib Shack, 2202 W Pine St, Orlando, FL 32805. Here you can enjoy incredible ribs and chicken sandwiches with fried seafood and homemade drinks. This place couldn’t be anymore iconic with its cozy location, romanticized 30 year history of being started by a neighborhood patriarch Jesse Jackson and being passed down to his grandson Jamal Jackson, who currently runs the business next to the home the family grew up in. Yes, that is their actual story.
Jamal is a phenomenal business owner and a young brother who supports other black businesses by creating partnerships for them to sell at his location. For example, he invites Fort Lauderdale-based Yummy Desserts by Pamela Davis to set up her pop up dessert bar a couple times a month to sell her irresistible homemade cakes, cupcakes and brownies.
I started out with the Buffalo Fish Bites and Shrimp Combo ($13). Simply delicious. The sauce was not a classic buffalo sauce, but rather an interesting fusion of the unique Black Florida barbecue sauce merged with buffalo sauce. You know exactly what I’m talking about, so don’t act crazy. Very good and is a MUST HAVE.
Next, I got the Rib and Chicken Combo with a side of seafood rice ($16.00). The rice was tasty and the ribs and chicken was slow smoked on a large cast iron grill using local oak wood. The seasoning and the sauce are both made in house with Jamal using the same grilling techniques his grandfather embraced over 30 years ago. I tried 3 sides of collard greens, macaroni and cheese, and baked beans. Each side was acceptable, but I enjoyed the baked beans the most. So if I had to pair two sides, I would do the seafood rice and the baked beans with this particular dinner.
Following I ordered the 7 piece Chicken Wings ($7) with their house barbecue sauce. Great choice if you just need something real quick and tasty on the go! Given that this joint is super close to stadiums, this a great choice for your kids and teenagers maybe with a side of their delicious seafood rice. The wings were tasty.
Moving along, the Fried Shrimp and Wings ($12) were fried to perfection with a nice tasty seasoning that is definitely worth a try. All fried items are made using a giant cast iron Grandma skillet with flavor trapped in the pans, that brings you back to better days! Non Trump Days! Anyway, I guzzled down all their delicious juices which are made in house and are definitely worth purchasing.
Ending the delicious visit, I stepped over to Ms. Pamela Davis’ pop up! What a great decision. Her items are between $8-$12 and worth every dime because her baking skills have been passed down from over 2 generations. I had the Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownie ($8) that was great. Make sure you refrigerate the cheesecake brownie before you eat it for an amazing texture. Ms. Davis explained that she uses nothing but fresh ingredients and creates all her delicious desserts from scratch. I also tried her red velvet cupcakes and the cookie and cream cupcakes. They were THE BOMB.
When we arrived, a line was forming before she even showed up. I tell you no lie here, as soon as this young lady and her mother backed their car up with these desserts, those people bought those cupcakes and brownies in less than 30 minutes. She had enough s$%# for days, and it was gone in minutes. I will be better prepared next time.
The Classic is a tradition of Black excellence that continues to grow each year and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2018. Add to your Classic experience by checking out these delicious Black owned eateries. Chef Eddie’s is open for breakfast, so don’t hesitate to stop by for some delicious waffles and homemade EVERYTHING and for lunch swing back by or visit Jesse’s Rib Shack for a great lunch and dinner and finally wrap it up by visiting Yummy Dessert’s Pop Up located at Jesse’s Rib Shack! Visit Yummy Desserts at @yummy82 or call them at 954-325-6136 to place an order!
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