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Harvard Square's Hidden Gem: Orinoco

Since the start of my Harvard experience, I’ve always been heartbroken at the absence of authentic Latin American food in Harvard Square. I grew up southern Texas, a.k.a. The magical Rio Grande Valley, a.k.a. Alton, Texas. I come from a Mexican household in a predominantly Latinx community, so authentic Latin American food was always close by. Mexican food was always available at my grandma’s house with menudo being my favorite dish. There also is this amazing food truck owned by one of my friends’ parents that sells the best Colombian food and the best empanadas in all of southern Texas. When I got to Harvard, I felt like my options were limited. There were some delicious and notable Latin American restaurants outside of Harvard Square if we went to Jamaica Plain or East Boston. Nonetheless, that required taking the subway 40 minutes off campus.

Then one day, two of my friends and I decided to go grab lunch. I was over the moon when they were talking about taking me to a place that was near campus with delicious Latin American food: Orinoco. I wasn’t over the moon because I had heard of Orinoco; on the contrary, I didn’t even know that it had existed. It is so easy to walk past the entrance of Orinoco and not notice it. I had been doing that for a very long time. While we were heading to it, my friends began to describe this hidden restaurant for Venezuelan food.

Basically, Orinoco’s first entrance is through a black metal gate type of entrance. The restaurant can be easy to miss because it’s hidden in the back of a small corridor, but you have to keep walk inside to discover the restaurant that is Orinoco!

Orinoco Restaurant Gate and Builing Entrance


The moment you enter the restaurant, you automatically feel that warmth and home-like feeling of being in your abuelita’s kitchen. The atmosphere and decor have a rustic appeal to it.

Inside the Orinoco Restuarant

Once we sat down, the menu made my mouth water. There were empanadas and arepas included in the menu! I ordered some empanadas that were beautifully presented and one of their arepas. They were both extremely delicious, and I took a to-go box because I wasn’t able to finish it all.

I went back again and was able to enjoy their Medianoche (Cuban-style) Pepitos sandwich. It came with a side of plantain chips and was to die for.

Orinoco Food I Have Eaten: Empanadas, Arepa, Pepitos


But my favorite thing about Orinoco is that it felt like being back home again.

I’ve found a few other places that also give me this feeling, and I’m still searching for more around Massachusetts. In all, every time I’ve gone to Orinoco, I’ve left completely full, happy, and at home.

Girl smiling who is holding an arepa


About the author

Hey Everyone! My name is Bianca Rodriguez. I am a rising junior living in Leverett House. I am studying History and Literature with a focus on Ethnic Studies. I come from the magical Rio Grande... View full profile

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