Caballo Viejo

After hearing some good things about Caballo Viejo I finally got a chance to try this restaurant.  First of all you have to understand that cuisine is primarily Venezuelan.  Not that this is in any way bad, just that if you go in there looking for a typical tex-mex experience you will not get what you want.   Located in the 7th Street shopping center it’s a small restaurant- you order at the counter and there is some seating around the perimeter but not a lot.  They also have some tables set up outside.  We ate at the restaurant, but based on my observations it seemed about evenly split between take out and eat in.  The people there were terrifically friendly and enthusiastic about their food- they seemed genuinely delighted you were there.

 

 The specialty of the house is Pollo a la Criolla- rotisserie chicken marinated in herbs and spices.  You can get the chicken by the whole, half or quarter bird, all white, all dark or both.   The guy at the counter couldn’t tell me where the birds came from.  However, the chicken was excellent.  Crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. With that we also had the cilantro-citrus rice on the side (decent, but nothing special) and tequenos.  These were listed as a “classic Venezuelan hors d’oeuvre” and consisted of fried cheese sticks with a wheat dough crust.  Interesting and pretty good, especially when dipped in the ranch-like dressing they came with.  The chicken is definitely worth the trip.

 

For something a little different you should try an Arepas.  These are thick, grilled corn cakes that they split and stuff with a number of fillings.  Options range from grilled vegetables, shredded chicken and beef, chorizo, black beans and cheese.  Even though they listed only a few combinations, since they make the Arepas up on the spot I see no reason why you couldn’t create your own combination.   We tried two of the arepas, and they were both good.  I was especially impressed with how the well they grilled the vegetables:  they were crisp and flavorful. The black beans by themselves were a little dull (overall I was surprised by how unspicy the food was), but mixed with the cheese and the veggies were delicious.   The arepas were very filling with the thick corn cakes and represent a lot of food for the money.  I have never had these before, so I had no basis upon which to compare them, but they were enjoyed and Mrs. Fred who has lived in South America said they struck her as very authentic.

 

For dessert we had tres leches (three milks).  Initially I was disappointed to see that they were bought (made by a company in Arlington if I recall correctly) but my disappointment was completely washed away after the first bite.  An absolutely. delicious parfait consisting of cake soaked in evaporated, condensed and whole milk with whipped cream on the top.  Very sweet.  Three of us split one and were quite happy.

 

Finally a word about guacamole. Generally I have always thought that I do not like guacamole.  I usually just avoid it.  I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that it’s just because I haven’t had really had good guacamole.  The guacamole at Caballo Viejo was phenomenal.  We got a basket of chips (both of us thought that the chips were a little on the stale side unfortunately) and I ended up having to fight Mrs. F for the guacamole.  It was that good.  I loved it.  I’d go back there just to eat it.

 

Also offered, but not tried (we were way too full to eat another bite) salads and various burrito combinations, fried yucca and tajada (fried plantain slices)

 

Booze:   Alas they have no liquor license and Fred wept a little tear inside.  As a consolation they had 8 or nine fresh juices they squeezed on the spot.  We had the passion-fruit juice and it was really terrific (a lot of fresh juice for $2.95 as well).  Still I could have used a nice cold cerveza.

 

To sum up:  This is not haute cuisine.  What it is is good food, quickly produced and reasonably priced.  There are lots of healthy options as well.  Why anyone would frequent a McDonalds or its ilk when you have this is beyond me.  If you want to try something a little different from the ordinary this place is worth visiting.  Try it and let me know.

 

Fred

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7 Comments

Filed under Food, Restaurant Reviews

7 responses to “Caballo Viejo

  1. The first time I went to Caballo Viejo I was a HUGE fan. Everything was hot, fresh and perfectly seasoned. ON my second visit, at a very busy lunch time – we did not have a good experience.

    Much of the food was prepared in advance in order to quickly fill orders. Sadly, this resulted in steamtable type results.

    The vegetables were lukewarm, underseasoned and crunchy. I like my green beans al dente – but not hard.

    The fried yucca had been pre-cooked and then flash fried a 2nd time to heat them up. This didn’t do them any favors. They were heavy and flat.

    The chicken was good, though. Nicely seasoned and moist throughout.

    The 3 other people with whom I ate were equally unimpressed.

    I will give them another chance because they are some amazingly friendly. Plus, it was very very busy. So, I understand that they need to get things ready to accomodate the rush. But – the food did suffer.

    However- the food we got at Don Chicken (the new Peruvian place) was , at least the first time, superior.

  2. fredfood

    Thanks for the tip on Don Chicken. We went to CV on a Sunday night, so it was pretty quiet and we had their full attention. I read somehwere that the “big” restaurant critics usually visit a restaurant 3-4 times before writing a review.

  3. I agree – you need to visit a place a few times so that a particularly good or bad experience can’t just be chalked up to an anomaly.

    Plus – it helps to have other people along so that more than one item is ordered – and to get others opinions as well.

    One of the things that truly annoy me about reviews is when the reviewer doesn’t know anything about the appropriate flavors.

    Did you read the “review” in the FNP today about Los Potrillos? The writer didn’t even know a tamale from an enchilada… Egads!! That’s why we need bloggers to help us make dining choices!

  4. fredfood

    Yes- I was stunned to see that the “reviewer” didn’t know the difference between a tamale and an enchilada. My 12 year old could tell you the difference. One of the reasons that I started this blog was that I was annoyed by the FNP’s write ups of “unannounced restaurant visits that were not meant to be critical reviews.” It seems really spineless. (I recognize the extreme irony in an anonymous reviewer saying that however!) Why don’t they just print the menus and leave it at that if they’re not going to tell us what’s good? I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that their articles were often just a way for one of their employees to have a meal on the company nickel.

  5. Also – I think it’s a way to “thank” advertisers for spending money on ads in the paper…..

  6. Pingback: Piggyback review: Caballo Viejo « The Frederick Vegetarian

  7. Great burritos and arepas here. Friendly staff too.

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