Saturday, November 28, 2009

Amazing Arepas- CARACAS Review

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating"  -Luciano Pavarotti

There are girls that pick at salads... and then there are girls that know the joy of eating.  I am one of the latter.  Of my many passions, food is an extremely important part of my life.  Growing up, I was the pickiest eater (my family still makes fun of me for only eating fried chicken) and meals were a chore to me.

At some point during my high school years, I became a foodie. I have tried food from all over the world, I love watching cooking shows, and I love finding new places to try and recommend.

The other day I went to Caracas- a Venezuelan Homemade Arepas restaurant.
First sign that it was good was there was a waiting list and we were on it~ (It is almost always a good sign when there is a line for food. The only time it's not a good sign is when it is a line of tourists... that's when you stay away).  After about a 10-15 min. wait, we were seated at our tables.

Caracas is definitely a hole-in-the-wall ~ people that go there go back and bring their friends.  It's not a fancy restaurant.  It is small, loud, and dark... jam-packed with people eating good food.  It's great.

They start by bringing you guacamole with Terra Chips (instead of the standard tortilla chips).  I  liked the guacamole because they don't put in a lot of cilantro (which i haaaaaaaaate) like most other places. 

Caracas is known for their Arepas- which is a bread made from corn (similar to a thick tortilla) and filled with lots of delicious goodness.  Now I LOOOOOOVE sandwiches (Crystal calls me "Joey" ... from Friends).  This isn't the typical sandwich...but they are sandwichesque nonetheless and they're FANTASTIC!

We started out with the Tequenos- fried white cheese sticks wrapped in wheat flour dough ($8.75).  These are not your mother's mozzarella sticks.  The bread, the cheese they use... combined with the sauce and it's pure cheesy goodness.  The portion is also surprisingly big...

We then ordered the Curiaras (a combo of 3 split arepas on a platter) ($22).  Angie and I ordered the La Popular set, which has the most traditional arepas.
* La de Pabellon has shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese, and sweet plantains.  It's a great mixture of salty and sweet
* La Reina Pepiada is a chunky chicken and avacado mix salad.  This one is cold and tastes like chicken salad with a punch.  It was nice to have something cold mixed with the warm arepas
* La Mulata has grilled white cheese with jalapenos, sauteed red peppers, fried sweet plantains, and black beans.  The spiciness combined with sweet is muy delicioso.

Oh, Most Importantly... the sauce they use is AWESOME!  Now, I am all about the sauce/condiments.  I like to say that I like food with my condiments.  When I asked Lance if they had Chimichurri sauce, he said the sauce here was a million times better... Now I don't know about that... but it comes pretty close if not equal...  There were times we had to wait for each other to finish using the sauce.  You can apparently buy the sauce... but don't quote me on that.

I also drank the Tinto de Verano ($7)- a drink that's similar to Sangria, but not as sweet.  Everyone else drank beer~ I don't drink beer, but I'm sure beer complements the arepas very well.  I thought the Tinto de Verano was very good... but then again... I'll drink almost anything with alcohol

They are all delicious and complement each other very well.. but my favorite was probably the La de Pabellon (Tracy and Lance also ordered this one too, so I think it's a good one to start with).  The arepas may look small... but it's like the little sandwich that could.  After the tequenos and 1.5 arepas... I was stuffed. But I ate it ALLL... which is quite a feat for me because I usually can't eat a lot at one meal.  Best part... Ang didn't finish one of her arepas so I was able to bring it home ( I live for leftovers!)

So, if you're looking for a low-key place with ambiance to eat lots of food for a good price... Check out Caracas at 91 East 7th Street (btwn 1st Avenue and Avenue A) and at 291 Grand Street (Between Havemeyer Street and Roebling Street) in Brooklyn.

Caracas has been mentioned in The New York Times, NYMAG,  and a number of times in Time Out Magazine.

Click here for more info

"All sorrows are less with bread " -Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

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