172 Main St.
Norwalk, CT 06851
If there's one thing I really love about summer it's going out for dinner to a new place. In the fall and winter, we make a lot of filling, comforting meals at home in the crock pot that last us over a few days, so I'd like to think that it balances out when we decide to go out during the summer. Plus, air conditioned apartment or not, sometimes it's just nicer to not heat up the place cooking, with a big ole pile of dishes to do when it's over.
Such was a night two Friday's ago when Sean wanted to take me out. We knew that our new town had a lot more gluten free dining opportunities, and diversity in cuisine, so after a little research, we decided on Valencia Luncheria. Featured on one of my favorite shows, Diners Drive Ins and Dives with Guy Fiore, we knew it would be a great meal. The cuisine is "Venezuelan Beach Food", and although it's a hole in the wall along Main St., it makes up for that in the flavors and portions. You get your money's worth here.
We went for an early dinner around 6 o'clock, so we easily grabbed a little table by the door. The atmosphere is colorful with brightly painted walls, and fun Latin music was playing, loud enough to enjoy, but still carry on a comfortable conversation. The menu had a lot to offer, and it all looked good. Our server was helpful in explaining to Sean what he could or could not order (he's not terribly familiar with Latin American food). I decided on the paella (shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, churizo, chicken and saffron scented rice), and Sean went for "The Works", which came with a soup, a pork arepa, an empanada (which he could not eat), rice, beans, plantains, tostones, and ceviche. We watched with delight as fresh plantains were selected from a display of fresh produce. I also ordered a mango iced tea, which was quite delicious and came with a stick of sugar cane, which I happily munched on. It had soaked up the mango and tea flavor and was like a little dessert before dinner.
While we waited for our meals, we enjoyed soups to start. I enjoyed gazpacho, which I'd been craving all week. I love soups, especially ones with lots of flavor, and this didn't disappoint. Although, I wish I'd gotten what Sean had - sweet potato crab soup. It was to die for. He was visibly sad when he'd finished it and scraped the bowl for every last drop.
Then, our food came.
It was quite a feast! I loved the paella, but it was very filling fast with all the rice. The portions were very large, especially when it comes to rice and beans, so make sure you fill up on "the good stuff" first.
Another aspect of Valencia that I like is that they allow you to bring your own wine or beer. There is a $5 fee for a bottle of wine, $10 for 2 or more bottles. There are quite a few places in the area that do this and I am a huge fan, considering not many places carry gluten free beer. When I texted Sean that it was a BOOB place (Bring Our Own Booze), he got excited.
We were too stuffed to order dessert, however we're confident that this will become a regular place for us to dine. It will cost you around $30-$40 for entrees alone, so it's definitely not a weekly stop we'll make, and adding in appetizers, dessert and a wine fee you're looking at upwards of $75-$100 for a meal. But trust me when I say that you get your money's worth and then some! They are also open for breakfast and lunch.
For menus, directions, and more about Valencia Luncheria, visit their website here.