A hidden treat: Orinoco’s Venezuelan food and great live jazz at Wally’s

by Kelsey
Wally's Cafe Jazz club

After a long day in Emily’s house near Cambridge, part of which was spent making our homemade soup and flourless chocolate cake (more on that later), she and I ventured out into the cold to explore and grab something to eat.

I had spent the day lounging around with no guilt, contentedly gobbling up her roommate’s food and cooking magazines and easing into the second stage of my trip: the resting stage. After all, vacation isn’t a vacation without rest.

During one of my reading frenzies, I read about Orinoco in an old issue of Boston magazine (read the article here) and it seemed like the perfect dinner spot, as we were going to be in the neighborhood in order to visit Wally’s later on that night.

We ordered two arepas, traditional Venezuelan grilled corn pockets (think the Venezuela version of Mexican tamales): the “Domino” with black beans and palmizulia cheese ($5.75), and the special “Portobello” made with sweet roasted corn, wild mushrooms, huitlacoche cream and roasted cubanelle pepper sauce (pictured below). We both agreed the rich Domino was much tastier than the semi-bland Portobello, but the Portobello’s texture was much more pleasing to the palate (I vaguely recall my knife wrestling with the Domino).

Arepas at Orinoco Venezuelan restaurant, Boston

The restaurant is small (not ideal for large parties) and when we arrived it was packed. The service was attentive, though, and they seated us quickly on the stools near the window and we enjoyed the cozy atmosphere. It would equally be a perfect place for an intimate dinner or lively drinks with a friend.

We visited Wally’s after that, a tiny jazz club that’s been around since 1947. Students from the Berklee College of Music, the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music mingle in the club’s lineup with seasoned jazz professionals. The clientele, then, is regularly a refreshing and relaxed mix of professionals, music buffs and college students all just looking for some good music and a beer.

Check the website for the schedule (they boast live music 365 days a year), but know that you won’t find bands listed on the website — rather, see what types of jazz they play on different nights and just enjoy it.

Orinoco: A Latin Kitchen
477 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, MA 02118

Wally’s Cafe jazz club
427 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02118

Top photo: Wally’s jazz club. Credit: skasuga
Bottom photo: Arepas from Orinoco. Credit: Kelsey Ramos

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