by Jose Kevo
August 12, 2004
Bahia Restaurante was always packed, with their checkered tablecloths and high-back wooden chairs hinting at old-world Europe, but the menu was definitely Latin. Try the Venezuelan national dish, Pabellón Criollo, somewhat confusingly listed under pastas for Bs3,000/US$1.50. You'll get a full plate with creole stewed beef, rice, black beans topped with grated cheeses, sweet plantains, and arepas - easily "the meal" for the day.
On another evening, I had Biftec Rebollado; strips of tender steak pan-fried with onions, much like liver and onions. The onions were a bit much, since Venezuelan salads usually didn't include lettuce, but only freshly sliced tomatoes and onions soaked in oil and vinegar. This also came with rice and tostones for US$2.25. Stout rum and cokes were Bs3,500, and fruit smoothies without alcohol were Bs1,000.
Via la Playa Grande Restaurante is located across from the pedestrian bridge leading towards the beach. With a relaxing dining area on the front porch, people watching was an added bonus. Nothing was priced over US$5, allowing extra splurges. A large bowl of Sopa Crema de Camarones, shrimp in a rich creamy tomato bisque, was Bs3,500, and huge slabs of rum-soaked flan 75 cents.
Official restaurants add a 10% service charge, but where I got lucky is that most accept Visa/Mastercard...staving off hunger until I came up with more cash. There's no minimum purchase; the highest charge later converted on my monthly statement was $US3.67.
The road leading to Playa Grande is lined with little shacks selling drinks, snacks, fresh fruits, basically anything desired. These places didn't open full-swing until the weekends, when the beach areas got crowded.
Another unsuspecting place is Mi Refugio Restaurante on the strip next to the Telephone Calling Center. If you're a breakfast type, they had plates of eggs, platanos, chorizo; and oversized bowls of fresh fruit combos. But what caught and held my attention were normal-sized cups of strong black coffee for a quarter.
One place to avoid is Bahia Pollonido Criolla, situated where the road first curves towards the main strip. It looks locally authentic and the lady is overfriendly, but the fried chicken meal was poor and double what you'd pay elsewhere. The owner turned out to be a real con...so eager to help after I'd been robbed and frequenting my posada to check up on me, but later putting a curse on me because I wouldn't contribute to the emergency surgery she'd scheduled for the following week...of course, after I'd just returned from the bank with cash.
From journal And Deliver Us From Eden's Evils...