My new favorite restaurant in town? Hands-down, it's Caballo Viejo in the 7th St. Shopping Center just behind Glory Days Grill & Bonefish Grill. I've been waiting to post about it until I took some snappy photos, but who knows when I'll ever get around to that...
Though more of a very casual counter shop than a fancy sit-down place (limited seating is available), you'll know that you've stumbled onto something delicious from the moment you walk through the door. But don't be confused, this is not Mexican, it's Venezuelan. I can hear you now, "Well, what the heck does that mean Chris?" It means not too spicy, and more than just burritos.
The basic menu is this: Burritos (the boys both love the steak version), Rotisserie Chicken (I don't know what they rub on those darn birds, but I am considering rubbing myself in the same thing so that I can lick it off whenever I want some :), a salad or two, and my favorite...Arepas.
Oh Arepas, let me sing your succulent praises! Arepas are a corn cake, polenta-esque really, that is steamed then very lightly grilled. They are hot hot hot, sliced open through the middle and stuffed with any number of great fillings. My favorite? It's a toss-up between the shredded beef (OMG!) with the white cheese and the Chicken-Avocado Salad. Holy cow -- that is some yumminess. They have a ton of different toppings and side dishes (plantains, yucca, etc.), but don't get too distracted. Simple can sometimes be the best. Ask the guys behind the counter how they would eat it, then trust them. The best part? This joint is totally inexpensive. You can get an Arepa for under $6 and it may even last you two meals (ok, a meal and a half). Whole chickens seem to be around $9, which is a lot more than Costco, but it is a really, really good chicken and totally worth it.
Tiny note #1: Dessert is really an afterthought and seems to be a mass-produced tres leches cake. It doesn't suck (just try to find a tres leches cake that does, actually no, don't), but I do try to avoid the mass-produced stuff unless it's completely excellent, and this is good, but really, stick to the main dishes).
Tiny note #2: The lore behind Caballo Viejo includes the fact that these folks were set to open in the Monocacy Shopping Center that was burned to the ground last spring. Scuttlebutt has it they they worked hard to recover and open in this new location. Do yourself a favor and give them a try. You won't be sorry!
Oh, I love that restaurant too! We moved to Frederick (specifically to the Baker Park / Hood College area) two months ago, and we've been trying out different restaurants in and around Frederick. So far Caballo Viejo is one of our favorites. Great food, wonderful service, terrific people there. I only wish there were more seating.
And Mariachi (the one that just opened along 355 near Lowes) is our least favorite - so far. Good food, but slow / indifferent service and lousy ambience.
I took your advice and tried Caballo Viejo last night. You were right. It was fantastic! I'll definitely be going back.
Woo hoo! Glad you liked it! Did you have arepas?
To be fair to El Mariachi, they really haven't been open that long. I try not to review a restaurant until it's been open at least 2-3 months, just to give them a little time to work out the kinks. It may not be fair to the folks who are ready to give it a try right away, but for best food and service, it's usually the best way to go.
Good point about waiting 2-3 months before trying a restaurant. I was just too anxious to try Mariachi! :-)
We also liked the arepas at CV. However, they are so huge that you can only order one for a meal. I wish they would make them smaller so that I didn't have to choose between the chicken salad and the shredded pork!
And... could the owner BE any nicer?
Sadly, Caballo Viejo is closing at the end of this month (Feb 2010). I went there today for the first time because of its high reviews and the news is there - they will be closing for business.
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