I was also pretty happy with caracas grill, as both posters noted the arepas, especially the beef arepas were very good (the cheese not so much). I also liked the seafood soup I tried quite a bit.
one possibly interesting note - as I was having my meal another couple came in and asked the waiter what would be a typically venezualan appetizer - he suggested garlic bread, as i was sitting with a friend who had spent a few years in venezuala I asked him if that was fairly typical and yes it was.
anyway, I wondered if anyone had tried the pargo (red snapper) - I'm not sure i've ever had fish stuffed with ham (though my buddy who had been in venezuala mentioned its not all that unusual to find anything stuffed with ham there)
Jeff- if you didn't like the tepache at Chorritos, you definitely have to avoid the mavi (apparently made similarly) at borinquen - all the goodyear notes, none of the pineapple - may have been the worst thing I've drank in this hemisphere, my buddy, trying to finad an appropriate taste analogy could only come up with those drinks made by some amazonian peoples where members of the tribe chew sugar cane and then spit out the masticated remnants to ferment
Garlic bread a typical Venezuelan pasapalo
? Ehh, I don't think so. Really there's no Venezuelan appetizer more typical than tequeños
(cheese sticks) and arepitas
, though bread in general is available in most restaurants.
And as far as stuffing things with ham, well, it's not the national stuffing or anything. But there are some things Venezuelan that come ham-filled, the most notable of which is the cachito
(a ham pastry, basically). Of couse, arepas can also come stuffed with ham, though in this case they are usually accompanied by queso amarillo
(which is actually not too diffrent from yellow dutch cheeses such as edam or gouda).
Now, as far as Venezuelan cuisine straddling the lines between "South American" and "Caribbean", it's hard to say either way (by extension, what exactly is SA food?). I can vouch that Venezuelan food is quite similar to Colombian food, though there are some things it has in common with Caribbean cuisine. Food in the country also varies per region (occidente, oriente, los llanos, etc.). In Caracas and surrounds, as well as cities in general, you'll find lots of international influences in the cuisine, even in home-made food. In fact, my grandma', who was a Llanos-born woman raised in Caracas, used to make dishes ranging from liver pates, to a criollo
("Venezuelan" for non-Venezuelans) version of kibe
, to arroz con pollo and the usual arepa, home-made humus and even pasticho
, which is basically the Venezuelan lasagna (Italians have pasticho, though I think it varies per region). In fact, pick up a copy of "Mi Cocina" --perhaps the best-selling Venezuelan cook-book-- and you'll find entries such as "Risotto con azafran", "Vol Au Vent Rellenos" and even "Paté de Pollo". Ok, I made the last one up, but they do feature pate recipes! In fact, you can find many "Mi Cocina" recipes online at elplacerdecomer.com. But I digress!
Anyhow, be sure to check out the Cachapas
at Caracas Grill, which is a dish that has the honor of being uniquely Venezuelan. It's basically corn blended with some sugar and water and then fried to a crisp, cooked with cheese on top and folded-over before serving. This dish is not to be confused with the maker of the dish, who is traditionally called the cachapera
, and which is also the term used to refer to a lesbian! Anyhow, Pabellón is another most typical of typical Venezuelan dishes--it is considered to be the national Venezuelan breakfast dish! The only things Caracas Grill is missing from this dish is queso 'e mano
(which is the cheese that usually tops cachapas) and a few slices of avocado, if I recall correctly from the last time I visited the restaurant. Finally, be sure to try anything with carne mechada
as it's not so bad at Caracas Grill and Venezuelans take to eating it quite often. Oh and don't forget that the hallaca
(or, alternately, hayaca
) is a typical Venezuelan Christmas dish that is only eaten during the Holidays, and into the next year (yes, excess hallacas are frozen and thawed out as needed for eating in the new year).
BTW, per one of the owners, the current owners of the restaurant may plan to move back to Venezuela in the next year or two, so get your grub in while it lasts. I forget the name of the lady I spoke to (she's the effusively friendly, slightly heavy-set woman in glasses), but she promised they would do their best to keep the place going in their absence.