We all know that New York City is a culinary playground brimming with gastronomic options. From pizza oozing with melted cheese to straight-out-of-the-carton Chinese fried rice, to hot dogs on every corner, you can find it all here.
So, as a Venezuelan, and recent New York City transplant, I was excited to find a vast array of areperas that serve not only the tasty, corn-based breakfast/lunch/dinner meal, but also pabellón criollo, cachapas, empanadas, y tequeños.
Arepas can literally be stuffed with just about anything. Have some canned tuna hanging around? Whip up a quick tuna salad and stuff it into a warm arepa. It doesn’t just go with cheese and ham; it goes with anything and everything (as long as it tastes good). When it comes to concocting a delicious arepa, the choices are limitless. But, since most of us may have the tuna lying around but not the arepa, Remezcla’s uncovered three top arepa spots in New York City to quell your craving.
(93 1/2 E. 7th St., New York, 212.529.2314)
Probably the most well-known arepas restaurant in the city is Caracas in the East Village. It had been years since I had queso guayanés so, as soon as I glared at the menu, I immediately zeroed in on La Guayanesa—a soft, slightly-salted arepa filled with cheese. I followed the cheese-filled arepa with La Reina Pepiada, which is stuffed with pieces of grilled chicken and avocado salad. The pepiá was delicious; moist chicken blended with a cilantro-heady avocado mix. The spicy sauce it’s served with was a great addition to the meal, too.
(33-07 36th Ave., Astoria, 718.937.3835)
If you’re in Astoria, head to Arepa Cafe and order an arepa De Pabellón. The combination of shredded beef, caraotas (black beans), oh-so-sweet tajadas (fried, sweet plantains) and queso blanco is perfection. There will be a guaranteed explosion in your mouth from the various sweet and savory flavors. There’s no doubt that the pabellón criollo (a traditional Venezuelan dish) was created to be stuffed inside an arepa—and not to be served with rice and eaten with a fork and knife. That’s just too much effort to enjoy something this scrumptious.
(157 E. Houston St., New York, 212.473.9900)
This Latin restaurant in the Lower East Side is decked out with wooden tables, brick walls, a wall-to-wall stocked bar and, on any given night, a populace of beautiful people. With only three arepa choices on the menu, the selection of arepas is small but enticing. The first is a divine combination of roasted quail, spinach, figs and manchego cheese. The second, a sweet mix of codfish, tomatoes and peppers, is topped off with a sizzling, fried egg. The third is a vegetarian arepa stuffed with blend of mushrooms and white truffles. The arepas are definitely not the ones your parents used to make—they’re invariably more expensive—but they’re delicious!