Venezuelan cuisine is one of the most varied in Latin America, offering delicious treats beyond the typical dishes of cachapas and arepas. The bustling metropolis of Caracas is where the flavor and color of traditional Venezuelan cuisine merge with modern international food trends. We explore ten of the best restaurants in Caracas, all of which guarantee a memorable adventure across the city’s diverse culinary landscape.
La Guayaba Verde offers a modern take on Venezuelan cuisine, head chef Eduardo Castañeda has a special talent for creating new dishes while keeping tradition alive. Polvorosas de pollo (chicken pot pie), pulpo de Juan Griego (octopus served with capers, raisins and pesto), and pabellón criollo (a plate of rice, beef stew and black beans) are widely considered to be La Guayaba Verde’s pièces de résistance. The menù ejecutivo changes often and showcases some of chef Castañeda’s most creative dishes, such as the homenaje al ají dulce (tribute to the sweet pepper), where sweet pepper is incorporated into every course of the meal. La Guayaba Verde offers excellent cuisine and a great wine selection set in a modern, fresh environment. On Saturdays and Sundays, live jazz adds that special something to the venue’s atmosphere.
Cachapas form the basis of many traditional Venezuelan dishes and Doña Inés and her sons serve the best in Caracas. Prepared from a mixture of ground corn, milk, salt and a pinch of sugar, these pancake-like delights are a great choice for breakfast or lunch. Cachapas, usually sold at roadside stands, are traditionally served with queso de mano, literally ‘cheese of the hand’, a soft fresh cheese, and/or with a side of pork. Doña Inés’ restaurant has no frills, with a menu as simple as the decor, but as far as traditional and authentic go it doesn’t get much better than this. The restaurant is usually very busy, especially on Saturdays and Sundays, but the long wait for the world’s best cachapa is time well spent.
After working in world-renowned restaurants such as El Bulli of Barcelona and El Celler de Can Roca of Girona, chef Carlos Garcia returned to Caracas to open his own restaurant, Alto. During his time in Europe, Chef Garcia was heavily influenced by Carlo Petrini’s slow food movement, which is immediately apparent in the meticulous attention to detail poured into every single dish. Committed to using only locally sourced meats and seasonal produce to recreate the earthy flavors of Venezuelan traditional cuisine, Alto infuses them with a Mediterranean flair and turns every plate into something new and surprising. Every dish is a delight, starting with shots of vodka, lemon, and basil as an appetizer, going on to the eggplant crème and goat cheese dumplings, all the way to the cochinillo (slow roasted suckling pig), and topping it all off with the tierra de cacao, a pot that contains seven different types of chocolate. Alto is Caracas’ real gourmand experience.
Every Sunday you can get a taste of Peru at the Peruvian food market in Quebrada Honda, where Latin America shows off its best and freshest produce. For the Peruvian community, it is an opportunity to be surrounded by the smells and flavors of their homeland, while for the hundreds of other people who gather there, it’s a chance to taste popular Peruvian specialties like chevice (marinated fish), chupe (stew) and papas rellenas (stuffed potatoes). Even the beverages are strongly linked to Peruvian tradition: some of the most delicious include the chica morada, made of sweet purple corn, and inca kola. The ingredients are always fresh, the portions at the food stalls are very generous, and the prices are kept incredibly low. For those who would like to replicate the dishes at home, all the necessary ingredients can be bought at Peruvian specialty stands. Hajillo’s
Located in El Hatillo, the southeastern municipality of Caracas, Hajillo’s is the perfect place to get away form the bustling life of the city. Owner and head chef Felicia Santana brings forward her unique vision of innovative Venezuelan cuisine by blending it with Asian influences. Chef Santana’s passion and talent met with public acclaim in 2012, when she was awarded the prestigious Armando Scannone prize from the Venezuelan Academy of Gastronomy. Her restaurant is simple and elegant in decor, white with nuances of green, infused with an intimate mood best enjoyed when the dark cover of the evening envelops the city. Though one of Hajillo’s most popular dishes is arroz con mango (rice with mango), Chef Santana specializes in aphrodisiacs, which makes the venue the perfect place for a romantic date.
El Aranjuez is one of the oldest restaurants in Las Mercedes and considered to be one of the best meat-serving restaurants in Caracas. Nestled in a small colonial house, Aranjuez has the homey feel of bygone days, where the simple decor, the idle chatter of diners, the friendly service, and the smell of roasting meat fuse to create a unique atmosphere permeated by a sense of tradition. Venezuelan and Argentinian quality cuts of meat are the main attraction, while arepitas with cheese, avocado salad, and even some international dishes complement the menu. Due to its popularity, El Aranjuez is often busy, especially at lunch and on weekends.
Named after Cerro Avila, the green lung of Caracas, this restaurant is the best place in town for gourmet burgers. When Avila Burger first opened in 2011 in the Quadra Gastronomica of Los Palos Grandes, its owners were not expecting the staggering success that brought them to open three more locations in just two years. Quality meats and a wide range of toppings are the key ingredients of Avila Burger’s dishes. Meat lovers can enjoy their beef, chicken, salmon, or lamb burgers while vegetarians are guaranteed a feast with the pajaro, a chickpea and lentil burger with fresh salsa and yoghurt sauce.
Tarzilandia stands out among Caracas’ many restaurants both for its location and for the quality of its food. Situated in the foothills of the Ávila National Park, Tarzilandia is surrounded by vegetation and wildlife: colorful parakeets and macaws sing just outside the restaurant’s large windows, providing a stunning backdrop to any meal. But in addition to this unexpected entertainment, Tarzilandia is known for the excellent quality of its meat and fish. Chef José Luis Cárdenas loves surprising his guests with his specialty dishes like smoked halibut with horseradish cream, turkey breast in mango sauce and flambé curry prawns with banana. Despite the wide choice of national and international wines on offer, the restaurant’s homemade sangria remains an all time favorite.
Small, fried corn cakes made from maize flour and filled with a number of different ingredients, arepas are the perfect choice for a meal on the go. At Arepa Factory Luna Llena, where they’re baked on the spot, arepas come in two sizes, the large luna llena (full moon) or the small luna slim, and can be prepared with maize or whole wheat flour. Fillings range from the traditional queso to salmon, roasted turkey breast and asado negro (roasted meat with a glaze of brown sugar). Arepa Factory Luna Llena is the ideal choice for those who want to taste this traditional dish with a touch of originality.
A culinary tour of Caracas wouldn’t be complete without stopping for dessert at the Bakery Danubio. The owners, Pal Kerese, a Hungarian immigrant, and his Venezuelan wife Evelia, opened this bakery in 1970. At first, Danubio was a European-style pastry shop but after a few years it started serving traditional Venezuelan desserts as well. These days, it’s the variety of its offerings that distinguishes Danubio from any other pasteleria (pastry shop) in town. The only complaint that Danubio’s costumers ever have is the wait, since the pastries are sold the moment they come out of the oven. Indulging in éclairs, cannoli, baklavas and other desserts from all over the world has never been easier in the capital of Venezuela.