Caribbean Flavor is an excellent casual restaurant that accents the best of mix of Caribbean, Venezuelan, and other Latin cuisines. As you can see from the front of their restaurant, you can barely make out their main sign, which is the little rectangle in the bottom left. Much more visible are the words, “Latin Food” and “Que Chevere,” which translates to “That’s Great!”. I whole heartedly agree. This family owned restaurant has something special going, and it has immediately been added to my list of favorites in San Diego. It’s a bit of a trek from Mission Valley to Poway, but my wife and I never hesitate to travel for great food.
The inside of the restaurant was quaint and festive. And although the wall menus were a bit hard to read, the atmosphere was welcoming. You place your order at the front counter and they bring the food to your table on real plates.
Their cilantro cream sauce is delicious. It came first with the salad, but we basically put it on everything we ordered tonight! The chipotle aioli was wonderful too. I was smoky with a spicy kick.
The first dish we ordered was recommended by Francisco. It was a coconut curry chicken with rice. The curry was flavorful, but subtle. The chicken was super moist and tender, likely from being stewed for a while. The curry had elements of a Thai yellow curry infused with red peppers.
My wife ordered the Pabellon Criollo, which is a traditional Venezuelan dish consisting of a plate of rice, shredded beef, stewed black beans, and fried plantains. It was her favorite because the shredded beef was flavorful, moist, and fragrant. There were some very nice complex flavors going on with this dish and some subtle aromatics that made this dish so unique and wonderful! The beef was infused with flavor from the onions, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers that had been stewed with it for a long time. It came with 3 plantains that were caramelized perfectly and provided a nice semi-sweet contrast. The rice and beans were simple and allowed the dish to really come together. We’ll definitely be getting this again.
My favorite of the night was a crispy corn cake topped with cheese called a Cachapa. This traditional Venezuelan pancake had the perfect balance of sweet and savory. When you cut into the cachapa, you could see bits of corn. The perfect compliment was the chipotle aioli, which made this side dish absolutely incredible! Another one to get again for sure.
Our final side dish of the night was a spiced beef empanada called Carne Molida. You can’t tell from the picture, but it was rather large in size – about 6 inches across. It was unlike most other empanadas we are used to because it was deep friend and the outside was made of white cornmeal. So, although it wasn’t flaky, the crispy outside and soft chewy shell was very unique. The meat and potatoes inside were bursting with flavor. Francisco gave us some extra cilantro cream sauce to dip with… Mmmmmmmmm.
Caribbean Flavor is a wonderful new find for us. It is a real gem of bright cultural flavors and a super nice family-run restaurant. It is owned by the Hernandez family, which you can immediately tell care about their patrons with a passion. We can’t wait to make our way back again!
Caribbean Flavor (Closed)
11385 Poway Rd – Suite 106
San Diego, CA 92128