300 W. Broad St.
Falls Church, VA
Neighborhood: Falls Church
Cuisines: South American
Open Monday and Wednesday through Friday noon to 10, Saturday 11 to 10, Sunday 11 to 9.
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Nearby Metro Stops: East Falls Church
Price Range: Inexpensive
Noise Level: Intimate
Reservations: Not Needed
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.
Starters $2.49 to $8.99, entrées $10.99 to $16.99.
Special Features: Wheelchair Accessible, Kid Friendly
Why go: Seeing owner and chef Raul Claros in his white chef’s jacket bearing plates to tables with a flourish, you’d think you were in a hip new bistro, not a nine-table restaurant attached to a motel. The detail-conscious cooking, featuring dishes of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile, is just as impressive.
What to get: Sopa de mani, a rich and complex peanut soup; black-bean soup; arepas, fried corn cakes stuffed with ground beef, scrambled egg, and cheese or with beans; the area’s best salteñas; corn-and-avocado salad; diputado, a sandwich of thin-sliced steak topped with a fried egg, tomatoes, and sautéed onions.
Best for: An interesting changeup from tacos, quesadillas, and burritos—the holy trinity of the area’s many Latin American restaurants.
Insider tip: Starters are better than main courses; you can construct a good meal around orders of salteñas and arepas as well as the marvelous soups.
Open Wednesday through Monday for lunch and dinner.
>> See all 2009 Cheap Eats restaurants here