Location: 8327 N Denver St.
[Location updated June 2011]
Caraquena is the newest cart on the scene, only 4 days old. On the side of the cart and on the menu, Caraquena is listed as Michelle’s Amazing Venezuelan Kitchen and today I enjoyed the first of what I believe will be amazing lunches.
I’m not sure I can describe what Venezuelan food is, so I won’t try. I suggest you go peruse the menu and head on down with your questions. What I do know is that Michelle makes her signature dishes from scratch. When I arrived around 12:40, you could tell she had been busy and she confirmed that. I wasn’t sure what to order from the pretty sizable menu, so she started describing items and making recommendations. She offered up empanadas and or arepas, describing the differences. I opted for Arepas which turned out to be sandwich like instead of a pocket like the empanada. They have an arepa special that gets you 2 arepas and 2 sides. While I stood around chatting with another patron, Michelle began to prepare my meal. She pulled out a Tupperware container of dough that she kneaded into a ball to make the arepa corn flour patty. Right there, she made it. I was floored. She then moved on to her cutting board to pound out freshly cut sweet plantains for plantain chips – just for me. I felt so special. The meal I ate consisted of 2 arepas – one of chicken and one of pork along with black beans and plantain chips with her signature sauces.
The food was excellent. Flavorful and a plenty. There was a lot there, so be prepared. I’m glad I stopped by.
As stated, Michelle has been open only 4 days and admittedly is still working out new cart kinks. Trust me, it is worth the wait. Welcome the neighborhood Michelle and Caraquena.
[Update June 2011: Caraquena recently reopened in the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland.]
- Cruzado – Traditional Venezuelan stew – belly warming stew made with beef shank, chicken, exotic jungle roots, corn, potatoes, carrots, scallions and cilantro – $5.50
- Pabellon – Traditional Venezuelan plate – shredded cumin and sweet peppers, beef with house rice, black beans, sweet plantains and iceberg salad with house vinaigrette – $5.50
- Plantains – fried with choice of toppings – between $3.50 and $5
- Empanadas – fried corn flour turnovers – choice of chicken, beef, cheese or black bean – $4
- Arepas – corn flour patty sandwich – choice of beef and black bean, ham and cheese, beef with herbs, chicken, veggie – $4.50
- Combination plates for Empanadas or Arepas add 2 sides – between $5.50 and $6
- assorted drinks available
Hours: Lunchtime weekdays, including Saturday