Cheap Eats 2010: La Caraqueña
100 places that offer great food at low prices.
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published June 9, 2010
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La Caraqueña
Address: 300 W. Broad St., Falls Church, VA
Phone: 703-533-0076
Neighborhood: Falls Church
Cuisines: South American
Opening Hours: Open Monday and Wednesday through Friday noon to 10, Saturday 11 to 10, Sunday 11 to 9.
Nearby Metro Stops: East Falls Church
Price Range: Inexpensive
Dress: Informal
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
Best Dishes Fried arepas with egg, carne mechada, or served plain; salteñas; corn salad; black-bean soup; sopa de mani (peanut soup); black beans and rice; diputado, (steak sandwich); cuatro leches cake.
Price Details: Starters $2.49 to $8.99, entrées $10.99 to $16.99.

Why go: For diners who know that first impressions are often wrong, this pan-Latin diner next to a dingy Falls Church motel offers ample rewards. Owner, chef, and waiter Raul A. Claros draws inspiration from the flavors of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile, and his plates are as colorful and attractive as the ones at posher spots.

What to get: Rich peanut soup; black-bean soup with bits of chorizo and cilantro; the area’s best salteñas, handmade pastries filled with a savory stew of beef, potatoes, and black olives; any of nearly a dozen arepas, the grilled or deep-fried corn cakes that are a staple on the streets of Caracas and Quito.

Best for: An appealing south-of-the-border alternative to the area’s many Salvadoran and Mexican joints.

Insider tip: It pays to frontload your order, concentrating on the left-hand side of the menu—soups, salads, and stuffed pastries. Main courses are satisfying but seldom as exciting—although the rice and beans are excellent.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 06/09/2010 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Restaurant Reviews