Review: Garrido’s offers a taste of Venezuela

Molly Abraham
Special to The Detroit News

When a Venezuelan café turned up in March of 2015 on a stretch of typical American storefronts, it was a departure for a neighborhood where nothing more exotic than pizza was available.

Fried green plantains served with shrimp, pico de Gallo, and guasacaca at Garrido's Bistro in Grosse Pointe Woods.

(Max Ortiz, the Detroit News)

  Now, a little more than three years later, Garrido’s has settled in and has won a loyal clientele for its arepas (corn flatbreads with fillings), guasacaca (avocado sauce) and churros (deep-fried sweet pastry) as well as for the most extensive list of teas, coffees and hot chocolate imaginable.

  The lack of a liquor license has made the creativity with drinks necessary and has been something of a blessing in disguise.

  The 32-seat restaurant – now with a few extra seats since unveiling a sidewalk café – is run by three members of the Garrido family, Vanessa Gonzalez and chefs David and Christopher Garrido, with the help of a couple of young servers who are still in the process of learning their craft.

   The big, glossy menu seems more like something that would be found in a fast food restaurant than in an ethnic cafe, but there is a good reason for it. Many of the Latin American dishes are unfamiliar, and getting a glimpse of them before ordering is helpful. For instance, pabellon and moqueca – not household words – turn out to be pulled beef, rice and black beans, and Brazilian stew with shrimp, garlic, onions, coconut and lime, respectively.

   To the surprise of some first-timers, the spice level is gentle across the board.

   The signature dish, arepa, combines the rounds of corn flatbread, deep-fried or grilled and filled with everything from beef and chorizo to grilled chicken and avocado. There are four vegetarian versions, as well. They may be eaten as sandwiches but it is advisable to use a knife and fork.

   Desserts tend toward the fanciful, towering sculptured creations of chocolate and ice cream.

   Service is courteous and helpful if not totally polished.

Garrido’s Bistro & Pastry

19605 Mack, Grosse Pointe Woods

(313) 265-9173

Rating: ★★

Hours: Noon-8:30 p.m. Mon.-Thurs., noon-9 p.m. Fri., 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat., 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun

Prices: Arepas (filled flatbreads) $7.50-$22, salads $8.50-$11.50, main dishes $15.50-$26.50, desserts $9.50-$14.50

Liquor: No, but a wide variety of non-alcoholic beverages.

Noise level: Low

Wheelchair access: No barriers

Parking: Street

What the ratings mean

★ — routine ★★ — good ★★ 1/2 — very good

★★★ — excellent ★★★★ — outstanding