KISSIMMEE, Fla. — During Hispanic Heritage Month, the nation honors the rich history and significant contributions of Latin Americans. One Puerto Rican in Kissimmee hopes to enrich her community by sharing her country’s traditional food dishes. 

  • Lisandra Roman owns El Jibarito restaurant in Kissimmee
  • Adopted unique cooking style from Puerto Rico
  • Roman will host Festival Del Pastel
  • More Hispanic Heritage Month stories

Lisandra Roman spent her childhood in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, a small mountainside municipality.

“My dad had a farm with coffee. He grew coffee, he used to sell coffee. So my first job was picking coffee,” Roman said. “I was little, 5 years old with my little basket and I used to go with him to the farm to just pick coffee.”

Roman grew up surrounded by “Jibaros,” those who farm the land, a reflection of the Puerto Rican people. Never did she imagine owning her own restaurant here on the mainland, which she would later name El Jibarito.

Roman adopted a unique style of cooking from her homeland, especially when it comes to cooking el lechon — the pork. She built a roasting pit outdoors, a special type of oven in which they cook the pig, el pernil, for about 6 hours over charcoal.

“You turn it around a few times, but you have to make sure the skin is crunchy and the seasoning,” Roman says. “It’s all the seasoning and that you cook it well.” 

While Puerto Rican dishes such as pasteles, morcilla, and arroz con gandules are a big part of Roman’s life, she says El Jibarito is so much more than that. The walls of the restaurant are adorned with Puerto Rican paintings, the island’s flag, pictures of Puerto Rico, and many more of its enchantments that remind you of home.

“You always have that nostalgia that you want to come back some day, so we have a little piece of the island here in Kissimmee,” Roman added. 

Roman will soon be hosting the Festival Del Pastel, which will feature food similar to a tamale. The festival will take place at El Jibarito at 1 p.m. October 13 and is free to attend.