Venezuelan Food Truck
Sabor Venezolano is a food truck. The restaurant I wanted to try was closed, so this seemed to be the only choice for Venezuelan food in Houston.
I have nothing against food trucks. They have blocks of trendy food trailers in Austin, TX and Portland, OR. But this is the real deal. This truck is plastered in posters and colorful, spray painted words in Spanish. It sits in the corner of a gas station lot on Westheimer Blvd., next to what appears to be a Gentleman's Club. So what lured me here? The internet of course. Write-ups by Venezuelans as well as newcomers all gave 4 out of 5 stars. Plus I had my interpreter, Don. I heard they don't speak English.
Not Just a Taco Truck
There is nothing wrong with a taco truck, but this is much more! However, seeing Don standing in front of this truck reminded me of the first time I heard the term "taco truck".
14 years ago when our kids were 8 and 11 and dreading our impending move to Texas from Oklahoma, Don did his best to encourage them with wonderful images... "We'll actually have palm trees in our neighborhood and who knows maybe we'll get a pool. And you know how the ice cream truck comes in Tulsa? They have taco trucks in our neighborhood! They serve tacos and burritos!" And yes, when we moved in, we heard the funny musical honk of the taco truck driving down our street each day. But we never actually joined the roofers and construction crews who gathered at the truck for lunch break.
We knew from reading "Yelp", which items were best. There are 10 different kinds of arepas, with a variety of fillings. The Cachapa is the most authentic Venezuelan choice. And if you order the Patacone (with crispy fried plantain) eat if first! Nothing will compare after. And as you can see prices are listed...for .99 to $7.00!
Taking Our Order
This is Alicia, who peeked out of her tiny window to answer our questions. That's a mighty tiny serving window. No room to peek inside and snoop. That could worry some, but I choose to just find it kind of cute, like the window Dorothy speaks through before entering the door to OZ!
Alicia warmed up after a bit and Don did a pretty incredible job of conversing, for someone who has only been learning Spanish on his own for a year. After asking about the food, Don asked where all the customers were. Alicia explained that we had missed the daytime rush hour, but night is a different story! On Fridays they are open until 4:30 in the morning! I gathered from her raised eyebrows that this might have been a whole different blog write up had I decided to visit at that hour! I speak no English, but pantomimed that I hoped she was home in bed during those hours! "Si!!" she smiled.
Cachupa and Alicia
I finally convinced Alicia to come out of the truck to pose before I devoured my cachapa. I've never tasted anything like it! The sweet corn pancake is doubled over a filling of handmade soft white cheese. Both cheese and pancake are imported from Venezuela and that is why it costs $7, (which is a lot for a food truck dish) but very worth it for such a different flavor experience! The rich, sweet, buttery corn pancake worked well with the salty cheese! Online comments from Venezuelans say this doesn't compare to tasting a cachapa freshly made in their county, but they also agree this is as delicious as you could ever hope for with imported ingredients!
An arepa is a dough patty (pita-like) filled with meat and/or cheese. Don chose the "Reina Pepiada" arepa, filled with shredded chicken, avocado and mayonnaise. This was a cold sandwhich, very much like chicken salad. Perfect for lunch. We actually shared half and half. There is no way I could have eaten that whole rich cachupa by myself!
Where Did We Dine?
Right in the gas station lot of course! We had a nice little plywood wood bench and lots of posters to view!
What I learned? I no longer end the blog with a number rating. Instead I mention one thing I learned from my dining adventure. Today I learned there are little treasures hidden in every nook and cranny of every city. All the worn out houses, buildings and even trucks we drive by every day, might just have some kind of surprise inside. If I'd ever even noticed this truck as I drove by this cluttered section of Westheimer, I would never have guessed there was imported cheese and corn pancakes waiting inside... to create dishes you can find nowhere else in Houston!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.