Down in Manhattan’s East Village, amongst the restaurant addled streets, lays a pokey little gem known as Caracas Arepa Bar. Since 2003, owners Maribel Araujo and Aristedes Barrios have been cranking out these fluffy little pillows of corn goodness to unsuspecting folk. For those in the dark, an arepa is pretty much like a thicker pita. It’s corn cake like and stuffed with a variety of delicious fillings.
Caracas Arepa Bar is a happy and friendly little spot-a surefire sign that patrons won’t be disappointed. The staff buzzes around and generally looks like they enjoy what they do. They all play around a cramped backdrop of rustic brick walls, tiny tables, and rinky dink Latin memorabilia from around the globe. Caracas Arepa Bar is usually very crowded, but the staff easily accommodates. Be prepared for a wait as they do not take reservations. Naturally, the wait is indeed worth the hustle and bustle. These 100% corn flour arepas are grilled and baked to perfection.
As expected, you won’t find just any regular arepa at this Latin hot spot. A must-try at Caracas Arepa Bar is the De Pabellon-a fat arepa chunked with juicy beef, black beans, salty tropical cheese, and sweet plantains. There’s also the Mulata, a spicy concoction of white cheese, red peppers, and jalapenos, but watch out-it’s got some kick to it! You also won’t go wrong with La Surena, a plump arepa filled with grilled chicken and chorizo. It’s paired with avocado and zesty chimichurri sauce...heavenly. From the “Side Kicks” portion of the menu, get the Tequenos. It’s deep fried cheese wrapped in flour dough-how could that not be good? The guacamole and chips and a few other things on the menu are ordinary, like the Tajadas (fried sweet plantains) and the Arroz con Caraotas (white rice and beans). There’s Empanadas here too, although they fail in comparison to the arepas. Overall, the food at Caracas Arepa Bar is simple, fresh, and done right.
Caracas Arepa Bar is a fun, lively spot to venture out for a taste of Venezuela’s favorite street food, elevated here by true artisans of the stuffed fluffy little sandwich. Arepa arepa!