If you’ve been out to eat recently, you know that cost for restaurant food, much like anything else with a price tag, is skyrocketing. Twenty dollars for a chicken kebab, $28 for a chicken breast. Don’t even ask about the wings.
So even more now than in other times, people want to get a sufficient bang for their buck. Or eight and a half bucks with inflation.
So places like Maracaibo Mia, a Venezuelan restaurant in the Gateway District, offer a good value – a box full of food, more than enough to fill you up, maybe enough for two meals, for about half what a kebab would cost. You just have to adjust your mindset to know that the quality is likely to be commensurate with the cost. Here we're talking about a meat with rice and beans and two sides for under 10 bucks.
Maracaibo is a Venezuelan port city, the second largest city in the country. There’s a vintage taxi cab in front of the restaurant with Venezuelan tags.
The dining area is small, and food is ordered at the counter just past the plexiglass-covered steam trays with all the various selections.
The best thing I sampled was the chicken soup, which had big hunks of potatoes and carrots slices and a short cob of corn that somehow managed to still be crunchy, all in a slightly unctuous broth. For some reason much of the chicken was still on the bone, but that was easy to deal with.
I expected the meat to still be on the bone with the plate of ribs I also ordered, because, you know, rib is in the name. I had it with a mound of yellow rice loaded with black beans and accompanied by a few dollar-size arepas. Very nice seasoning in the rice.
I had plain white rice (plain flavor, too) with the roast pork chunks, which were unusually dry. Also, it was the wrong choice to request the beans be served on the side because the side was a tiny well, so there weren’t nearly as many beans as there were with the rib platter that I requested be spooned over the rice.
And let’s face it – it’s all about bean counting.
Maracaibo Mia is at 5691 S. Semoran Blvd., Orlando (map). It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-236-7131.