228 West 18th St.
El Cocotero is a restaurant where true Venezuelan charm meets downtown New York City. My first expectations when I walked into the restaurant were for rancho decor, maybe some leather and lots of meat. Instead, El Cocotero had a subtle feel that was quaint and warm and a staff that was super-friendly. I started off with a yummy cold drink. I chose something called Guarapita, a mixture of passion fruit, mango, and dark rum. They may not have the fanciest of cocktail menus, but the Guarapita is definitely my new fave!
Next, I tried 2 out of the 23 variations of Arepas appetizers ($5.50-$11)—the Miss Venezuela (avocado, tomatoes, and cheese) and the Pabellon, (sweet plantain, white cheese, black beans, shredded flank steak) which were both pretty delicious. For my entrée I tried the camarones cocotero, sautéed shrimp in a cilantro mojo, with tostones and green salad on the side($18.95) and I will surely be back for more in the future.
Even if I hadn't loved the food, I would have been happy just to have met the charming and gracious owner Luis Quintero and our amazing waiter Marcelo! All in all, the experience was wonderful—perfect for those who want to hang with friends and enjoy great Venezuelan food in an inviting atmosphere.