LOS SOLES: OVERPRICED BELOW AVERAGE "MEXICAN" FOOD
IT IS SHAMELESS WHAT THIS RESTAURANT CHARGES! I PAID OVER 55 BOLIVIERAS FOR A "VEGETARIAN TOSTADA" WHICH WAS 3 TOSTADAS WITH A THIN SPREAD OF REFRIED BEANS, SHREDDED LETTUCE, A SPRINKLE OF CHEESE AND A SLICE OF A TOMATO WHICH DID NOT LOOK VERY NICE. INCLUDED IN THIS PRICE WAS A SMALL LOCAL BEER.
I WOULD NOT GO TO THIS RESTAURANT AGAIN!
Favorite Dish: NONE
Best Western El Paseo: Only Revolving Rooftop Restaurant in Venezuela
Family took us to this restaurant at the top of the El Paseo Hotel. The floor, not the external architecture, revolves 360 degrees within about an hour, as I recall, providing a spectacular panorama of Lake Maracaibo. I can't recall the entres, but I do recall the service being generally excellent and food good. One interesting feature of this meal was the service provided by the wine steward, who wore the hat and vest of a joker. I had brought with me a rare older vintage bottle from hometown of Napa, California, and the steward took immediate interest in this. He was so interested that after opening and inspecting the cork (which sealed well despite the tropical climate, 8 hours of flying, and a several day of road transport), he immediately drank a sample with a shot glass. He wanted to make sure the wine was good he said. I knew by the cork that it was it was going to be an outstanding red. Fortunately, he listened to me as I recommended how to decant the wine. Knowledge about wine can't be counted upon in even the best Venezuelan hotels, but this guy knew a few things. We had a great meal with California wine while the restaurant made its turn. Overall it was a great experience. A stay in Maracaibo wouldn't shouldn't miss this ride.
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According to BGK (and several Venezuelans that I met), Ciao is quite simply the best restaurant in Maracaibo.....period.....in fact, it's difficult to get him to go anywhere else.....we probably ate at Ciao five or six times over the course of my four week stay and it was great each time; of course, a good dining experience has as much to do with the people you are with as with the food itself......and we certainly brought a cast of characters.....from the wild eye Chevas Regal guzzling Bram to very provincial Mr. Finch to ultra angry Cock Rojas to Phil the Porn Star and finally BGK with his plastic Scooby Doo cup, we must have looked like a dysfunctional bunch of gringos....
Anyway back to the restaurant.....with a swank decor and a very hot, young hostess, Ciao attracts all the well-to-do and want-be-seen people of Maracaibo....on top of that, Ciao has a good wine list and excellent food.....so, given the crowd I just described, you're probably asking yourself how the hell did we even get in the front door....
Well, lets see, put aside the pretentious attitude (which probably pisses off other diners), show up with a large group ($$ in the eyes of the restaurateur), livened up the place a bit (which usually takes a little bit of wine, and again, is probably to the dismay of other diners) and then dropped a few (several actually) dollars on the way out the door.....and presto, the Matire'd wants you to come back....he doesn't say "don't ever bring that bloody plastic Scooby Doo cup back in here again you hyper-active sandal wearing drunk American gringo......no, no, no, he shakes your hand with a smile....but that could have been because he was laughing at us all night long and this is Maracaibo where it just doesn't matter.....
Favorite Dish: Ciao has a good variety on their menu....each time we went to Ciao I never repeated an item, so, I can't say that I have a favorite dish. The steaks were great, the chicken was good, the pasta dishes were nice.....and the wine was good......have I mentioned the hostess, yet????
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