Thursday, August 26, 2010

El Punto Criollo

506 Hwy 6 West (??), less than 1/2 mile south of I-10 SEE AMENDED LOCATION BELOW and a report on a revisit here.


I was on my way to check out another restaurant on the far west side when I happened to spot this one. I knew from the word criollo that this was not another taco trailer so I swung around to check it out. Cuban?, Puerto Rican?, I wondered; it wasn't until I got close enough to read the menu in the window that I discovered it serves Las Delicias de Venezuela. I had forgotten that Pabellon Criollo is the national dish of Venezuela. It's on the menu here along with arepas, empanadas, pastelitos, cachapas, tequenos, and chicha Venezolana, a rice based drink served sweetened and chilled. There are also hallacas listed on the menu and I thought I'd really lucked out. Hallacas are the Venezuelan version of a nacatamale, typically including more than one meat, capers, raisins and olives as filling and I've never been able to sample one yet but she said it should be covered up on the menu as it is only served during the holiday season, as is typical.

The lady is very friendly and cheerfully answered a lot of questions I peppered her with; she speaks pretty good English. I had more trouble communicating because of the roar of traffic on the highway than because of a language barrier.


Though I had my heart set on something at the other restaurant I decided to pick up a couple of empanadas to sample since I've been out on this stretch of Highway 6 only a handful of times and wouldn't likely be back soon. I got a beef and a chicken ($2 each) and was impressed with how hefty they were. I was offered a variety of salsas, red and green, one described as hot, but I asked about the guasaca, the Venezuelan creamy avocado dressing. She seemed pleased I knew of that and procured some from the refrigerator.

I had actually just left a dentist's office and made it all the way to 6 in amazing time; I wasn't supposed to eat anything for another quarter hour, lest my teeth self-destruct, so I hopped in the car and headed on down the road where it turned out the restaurant I had my sights on was closed; sure was a good thing I brought a spare lunch along.

Most Venezuelan empanadas I've had were snack-sized; these were close to being the largest I've ever had, about as big as a burrito, and crammed full of meat. The chicken one was the tastiest, shredded chicken breast with some red pepper and other herbs apparent, tender and juicy. The guasaca was surprisingly tart and complemented the chicken quite well. The beef empanada had tender shredded brisket and was a little more simply seasoned and not quite as interesting. The guasaca didn't go with it as well and I wished I had also taken some of the salsa. These things were big enough that two was a meal.

With the recent closure of Miguelito's I guess we now have more Venezuelan mobile units (3) than brick and mortar places (2) in the area.

Edit: now located next to the parking lot of World Food Market, on Beechnut just west of Highway 6, with an awning and table for comfort.

El Punto Criollo on Facebook

Edited 1/28/12

6 comments:

Val & Mani said...

I can almost taste them as I type this! We've been on an empenada kick ever since we discovered Marine's Empenadas but these look amazing. We'll definitely try them out!

Ron said...

I've been there once... and now they're gone! Does anyone know where they are at?

Bruce said...

Did you notice the edit at the end of the review about the new location? I guess I should have highlighted it in some way so I did. The trailer was still there this evening, though not open.

Jess said...

I've had her empanadas and just about everything else, I haven't had Venezuelan food that great anywhere else, NOT EVEN VENEZUELA. The lady's name is Mireya she also has a facebook page for you facebookers https://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Punto-Criollo/199589396799777

Bruce said...

Thanks for the tip on the Facebook page. I've added a direct link.

Boris Martinez said...

Yes, they now opened their own restaurant here is their new website: http://www.elfogoncriollo.com/