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Although both Caracas and Isla de Margarita have a wide range of restaurants serving a gamut of international cuisines, your choices will be much more limited throughout most of the rest of the country. Venezuelan cuisine is neither very distinctive nor noteworthy. Most meals consist of a meat or chicken dish (either fried, grilled, or in a stew), accompanied by some stewed vegetables, rice, and the ubiquitous arepa, the traditional cornmeal patty that's a kind of cross between a tortilla and a biscuit. Vegetarians may have a particularly hard time. If you are vegetarian, try to coordinate your meals in advance with hotels and tour agencies.

For those with a sweet tooth, be sure to try a piece of the national cake, bienmesabe, a soft sponge cake soaked in a sweet coconut-cream sauce. (Its name literally means "Tastes good to me!") Also be sure to sample some of the fresh fruit drinks, or batidos. These are made with whatever ripe tropical fruits are on hand. My favorite batido is made of mango, but parchita, or passion fruit, runs a close second.

I have separated restaurant listings into three price categories, based on the average cost of a meal per person, including tax and tip: Expensive, more than BsF150; Moderate, BsF60 to BsF150; and Inexpensive, less than BsF60. Note that prices given for entrees and main courses do not include sales or service taxes.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.