While in the South End this weekend, I decided to check out Orinoco for lunch. Orinoco is a Venezuelan restaurant, inspired by the taguaritas-- small, casual, rustic, and inviting eateries found along Venezuelan roadsides. It is a small place, homey in appearance and they did have several tables set up on the sidewalk as well. It is a causal place which I hear gets very busy in the evenings. Today for lunch though, there were plenty of empty tables so I did not have to wait.
The lunch menu has plenty of different choices, including Antojitos (little cravings-akin to appetizers), Arepas, Empanadas, Salads, Sandwiches, Entrees, Sides and Desserts. Most of the prices are in the $5-10 range, making this an inexpensive place to grab a bite.
I wanted to start with the Tequenos, guayanes cheese wrapped in flaky dough and served with chipotle ketchup, but they were out. The menu mentions that the guaynes cheese is imported and is not always available. So, I decided on the Maracuchitos, queso paisa wrapped in sweet plantains ($4.50). This dish consists of four Maracuchitos, a small rectangle of cheese surrounded by large pieces of fried plantains. This was just ok as the plantains were a bit overcooked and the cheese was so small that you lost much of its flavor. The plantains were sweet and definitely would have been better if they were not cooked as much.
For my main meal, I chose the Mechada Arepa ($5.95). An Arepa is a traditional Venezuelan grilled corn pocket sandwich. They are at least a half dozen different types of Arepas you can order. The Mechada consists of Venezuelan-style stewed shredded beef. The Arepa resembles a large English muffin and it is sliced to create a pocket for the meat. The Arepa is delicious, with an excellent taste of corn. It is moist and stands up to the meat without falling apart on you. The Mechada was tasty, with plenty of juicy shredded meat and small bits of onion. Overall, this was an excellent sandwich at a reasonable price. I definitely think the Arepa makes for a good alternative to other types of breads.
I will return to Orinoco to check out some of their other dishes. And probably have another Arepa.