Here's an intriguing new Orlando discovery: Q'Kenan, a Venezuelan restaurant I really like.
I had a big lunch there yesterday and encourage you to have your own Venezuelan adventure.
Q'Kenan is a no-frills restaurant with straightforward Venezuelan foods. It's hidden on the short arm of a Publix strip mall--so hidden that we called from the parking lot to ask where it is. The lady who answered the phone spoke no English, so she put on a bilingual gentleman who barked "behind Walgreen's," and that was enough to guide us.
What a gem, especially for its location near a mammoth outlet mall. You can get a large, flavorful meal for, say, $10 a person.
We began with a chicken empanada.
This version has a cakier pastry than the Spanish and Mexican varieties. The chicken, shredded, was tender and laced with spices, although it wasn't spicy. Later in the meal, we feasted on two cheese empanadas. They're a little addicting.
One guest had a grilled chicken platter. It came with two sides. He chose fries and sweet plantains, which weren't sweet enough. I didn't take a picture. Another had the pork-filled arepa, which you see at the beginning of this post. I'll let the image do the talking.
To try more, I went for the combination plate called parilla tepui. For $9.99, I got a fresh little salad plus steak, griddle-cooked cheese (we practically arm-wrestled over who got to finish it), green plantains, and fried casava. Garlic and hot sauces were on the table, and I freely used them to perfect the meal.
We sipped mango, strawberry, and cantaloupe juices with our lunch, feeling happily tropical.
And we had a chuckle at the end. The bill included suggested tips--beginning at 18 percent, which is high for a family restaurant, and ended with this: "We don't accept old $100 bills." My Facebook friends had fun with that one. Vegas, here they come.
I'd eat at Q'Kenan again. I liked it. We all liked it. I'll pack a credit card since my stack of weathered $100 bills are taboo.