Saturday, June 11, 2011

La Caraquena - Falls Church, Va

We were driving around a couple weekends ago looking for somewhere interesting for lunch and remembered a place my dad had tried and loved.  La Caraquena is a Latin American restaurant specializing in arepas.  An arepa is kind of like a fat corn tortilla, stuffed with various fillings.  They come fried or grilled and resemble a sandwich version of a pupusa.

The restaurant itself is kind of odd.  It is housed in the same building as a run-down motel, right next to the check-in office.  There are a few tables and booths inside and a patio area, where we sat.  Arepas were featured on the menu and we knew we had to try them.  I ordered one with shredded beef and cheese and BJ ordered one with a traditional chicken and avocado salad.  We shared an order of fried plantains to start.  They were outstanding.  They were perfectly cooked and came with picadillo and a hot pepper sauce.  The combination of flavors in your mouth was perfect.  The Luce even loved the plantains, without the sauce of course.  The arepas came and I was a little disappointed in the size.  The menu clearly states that each arepa comes solo and you can buy sides or sauces to go with them.  Mine was around $10.  It was literally the same size of the English muffin you eat for breakfast with maybe 1/3 cup of filling.  Luckily, it tasted great.  The beef had wonderful Latin flavors and the cheese was the perfect compliment.  BJ found his chicken salad arepa great as well and was enthusiastic about it. 

Photo courtesy of restaurant website

The service here was also excellent.  If I owned this restaurant, I would add sides to the dishes.  If my arepa came with a side of plantains or yuca or something else, it would be a much better value.  To compare, I happened to recently see the menu for an arepas place in New York.  Their similar dish was at least $3 cheaper.  How many times does Falls Church cost more than NYC??  That being said, La Caraquena was recently featured on the Food Network, so I guess they think they can jack up the prices and curious people will still come.

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