Oscar Melara opened his 3 Nena's Bakery & Deli in May 2009, and it's still going strong today. (Photo by Dave Raith).

DAVENPORT – Bakery is one of those words that makes a place sound quite small, if you ask me.
When I think about a “bakery,” my mind always sails back to my numerous trips to France, and the small bakery shops I frequented that have the most delectable sweets imaginable, ones that look sinfully delicious and virtually impossible to resist. The France pavilion at the World Showcase in Epcot even emulated this, with the Boulangerie Patisserie (bakery by any other name), one of the true highlights of that entire theme park.
You don’t need to visit Disney, though, if what you’re looking for is a restaurant that also happens to have some truly amazing pastries …. think eclairs that can’t be beat, with a creamy chocolate ganache on top … or Flan, or mini cheesecakes, or a Tres Leches that calls out to you from behind the glass counter.
If Davenport has a sort of best kept secret, it probably would be 3 Nena’s Bakery & Deli, a place that’s family owned and operated, where all the pastries are hand made from scratch, and where the phase “Five Star” cries out from the moment you walk in the door. This is a restaurant/bakery/deli that combines Latin food with incredibly yummy desserts.
It’s interesting that the owner, Oscar Melara, opened this restaurant at the Berry Town Center in Davenport back in May 2009 — right at height of the national recession, when the nation was still losing half a million jobs a month, and when the once-thriving housing market in Four Corners was collapsing. How could any restaurant be expected to survive when people were sharply cutting back on their disposable income, and after all, so few people eat out when times are bad.
It’s a credit to this very fine establishment that Melara started that not only has he survived, but built up a solid reputation for tasty Cuban meals and a scrumptious array of mouth-watering pastries.
The bottom line: he found his niche, in a shopping plaza right off U.S. 27, likely to get much busier in the months ahead now that this highway has become the gateway between Walt Disney World up the road off U.S. 192, and the new Legoland Florida theme park opening next month in Winter Haven. Hopefully Melara will figure out a way to get the word out about his bakery, because if enough of those theme park tourists discover what he has to offer, he’s likely to remain high on their list of must-visit restaurants across Central Florida.
Without being a particularly large deli, 3 Nena’s menu more than compensates by making this an ideal spot for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, for either dining in or getting some take out.
If you get there in the morning, the options are plentiful – omelets, French Toast, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches that include ham and cheese; ham, egg and cheese; and bacon, or sausage egg and cheese.
But can anyone resist the notion of a stack of four pancakes with whip cream and fruit of the day on top, or French toast covered with powdered sugar? Yum!
The lunch menu, in true deli style, moves on to a wide array of sandwiches, including a Ruben on rye bread, turkey, a BLT, Pepper Steak on toasted Cuban bread, or Steak and Onions. And, fittingly enough for a restaurant with a Latin flavor, there’s a terrific Cuban Sandwich made of roast pork, pickles, ham and Swiss cheese, covered in mustard, mayo and butter. All of the sandwiches are served with the 3 Nena’s fries.
You can complement these sandwiches with side orders that would be at home at any Havana deli, including Yucca, Sweet plantains, Tostones, Empanadas, Stuffed potatoes, Alcapurria, and Cuban bread.
The daily meals – including baked chicken, beef stew, chicken stew and rotisserie chicken — are served with rice, beans and a choice of meat and a side order. The Pollo a la milanesa offers a batter chicken breast topped with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese, served with rice, salad or in a Cuban sandwich.
The dinner menu includes salmon or tilapia served with rice and seasonal vegetables, or Citrus Chicken breast or Chicken Tenders with honey mustard. There’s Fettuccini Alfredo with either shrimp or chicken, Steak served with stuffed potato, or a 3-Nenas Burger with fries on a Cuban bun. In the evening, the appetizers include wings, chips and salsa, pork bites, or a mini cheese empanadas.
3 Nena’s also has outdoor seating, and a relaxed, informal atmosphere. You get serviced by the family themselves, and they’re going to make you feel like an old friend whenever you go there.
But as I said, please save room for the fresh breads, pastries, custom cakes, flan and other desserts which are going to make it impossible for you not to make a second – and third – and fourth – visit to 3 Nena’s.
The restaurant is open from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 101 Ambersweet Way in the Berry Town Center in Davenport. To learn more, call 863-424-9300, log on to www.3nenasbakeryndeli.webs.com, or email 3nenasbakery@aol.com.

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