Arepa Cafe

Posted on May 31, 2012


After finishing a long day, my friend Abraham Wornovitzky and I popped by Arepa Cafe.  He once talked about this place telling me how satisfying it was to sink one’s teeth into a grilled handcrafted corn meal bread that is so full of stuffing.  I have never tasted Venezuelan cuisine before so curiosity got the better of me.  It doesn’t take too much work to get me to try Latin-flavors.  It tends to be close to the taste I grew up with.  Twisting my arm to try it was not necessary.

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We stepped into the restaurant late and there were still some patrons milling about. The front of the restaurant had collapsible doors and were fully opened for the night, letting fresh air in.  We take one table (one with good lighting, of course!) and as we go over the menu, one regular patron stopped by our table and passionately told us to try Arepa Cafe’s Pabellon Veggie Arepa.  She told us how it is the only one she eats at this place as she cannot get enough of it.  Each serving is generous, it would be amazing if anyone can finish two arepas in one sitting.  Talking to an enthusiastic fan was very encouraging.  I don’t think I would doubt her love affair with Arepa Cafe’s food the way her face lighted up as she was explaining why she loved it.   Abe ended up with what she recommended and I listened to the inner carnivore in me and went for the Adobo Roasted Pork Arepa.

After ordering, I took the time to look around and I like the feel of the restaurant.  I imagine this place must be full during the peak hours as the food caters to different tastes and preferences.  Its walls were adorned with abstract art and a vibrant slideshow played on a big screen on top of the bar.  I particularly like a shelf full of bags of white corn meal.  I have no idea why it captured my eye, it just did!  I later found out that they actually sell authentic Venezuelan white corn meal.

After a few more snaps, I went back to our table and my food followed me there.  As the server placed my arepa right in front of me, I was in awe of how big it was.  I don’t know why but I expected it to have the same size as a taco.  It is much bigger and fuller in filling.  Seeing my serving come with a slaw and guacamole, I slathered it in-between the slices of roasted pork together with their garlicky mayo.  As I sank my teeth onto it, the smell of the toasted arepa coupled with the fragrant meat wafted around me.  The meat was so tender and the bonus of having slivers of caramelized onions completed each bite.  But I don’t think I can compete with Abe’s reaction to his own arepa.  He trumped me with his enthusiasm of how the avocado, plantain, black beans and cheese tasted,  mmmm-ing and ahhing for emphasis.  He finished his arepa in a matter of minutes.  I struggled with mine as it was too much meat for me.  I saved half for lunch the following day.

I find it amusing how Abe and I have serious love affairs with the food we eat.  I find myself very lucky to be working with someone who sings the same tune as I do.  It makes long days of work just pass me by. :)
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