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Under the same ownership as the venerable Charlotte Bakery next door, which turns out baked goods and sandwiches from a variety of Latin American nations, this newer café features Venezuelan specialties. A great intro to that nation's cuisine is a sampler including guayanes cheese (similar to mozzarella but looser), tequeños (dough-wrapped sticks of firm white cheese), a fried cornmeal tamale, deep-fried beef mini-empanadas, and house-made guasacaca sauce, a thinner and delectably tangier version of guacamole. And Mojo Shrimp -- fresh Florida shellfish precisely sautéed with a mix of orange, lemon, and cilantro, then finished with a sauce of white wine and butter -- is a surprisingly ambitious starter for such a humble setting. There's a small selection of budget-price wines too. In fact, what looks to be just another empanada joint outside is cute enough inside to be suitable for a romantic bargain date -- except on days when there's a soccer game on TV, and the café turns into a zoo.
From the front the Charlotte Bakery doesn't look much more encouraging than any of the many other sources, on this still relatively ungentrified stretch of Washington Avenue, for empanadas. But some of the fare inside is uncommonly tasty. This is... More »
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