Cheap Eats 2009: La Caraquena

Great food, low prices, lots of fun.

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


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