If you are in the mood for something different, consider trying La Taguara — a local restaurant with locations on East Johnson and East Washington, bringing a fresh take on Venezuelan and Latin American cuisine to Madison.

The mix of traditional and modern styles of cuisine are influenced by Venezuela’s indigenous population, along with its European and African ancestry.

La Taguara’s East Johnson location has a homey atmosphere with multiple seating rooms and authentic Venezuelan decor. Rather than waiting to be served, the entire process is expedited with customers ordering at the counter. The staff is friendly and provides expert advice on what to order. The establishment accepts cash as well as cards.

Corn, rice, plantains, yucca, beans and several meats and seafood are prominently featured on La Taguara’s menu. Most dietary needs can be accommodated at La Taguara — dishes can be prepared vegetarian and gluten-free.

The menu has a vast array of options ranging from breakfast and lunch sandwiches to dinner entree platters and desserts. The most popular item on the menu is Pabellon a Caballo, a Venezuelan national dish consisting of black beans, white cheese, shredded beef (also available as vegetarian or gluten free), rice and deep fried sweet plantains.

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The Arepas sandwich is another popular item, which comes in a hot bun made of ground white corn with a crispy shell and a soft doughy inside with your choice of two fillings: cheddar cheese, white cheese, ham, shredded chicken, shredded beef, pernil (pork roast), ground beef, black beans, picadillo salad, shredded eggplant or potato chicken salad.

La Taguara also boasts a large selection of sauces that can be added to any dish and the staff is happy to make recommendations or explain anything on the menu that may be confusing.

The empanadas (filled with cheese, chicken or ground beef), are also very impressive and feature one of the delicious dipping sauces — guasacaca. Additionally, there is a wide assortment of drinks such as sugar cane with lime juice, Venezuelan soda, imported beer and passion fruit juice.

While La Taguara is a little out of the way, around a 25 minute walk from the heart of State Street, it is well worth the trip. Their authentic Venezuelan style offered at mid-level prices along with the inviting staff and cozy ambiance, makes La Taguara a key restaurant in Madison to try.