Jun 15, 2010

Arepa Cafe [Toronto] vs. Caracas Arepa Bar [NYC]


[left] Toronto ― Arepa Cafe's Vegetarian Arepa
Grated Aged Cheddar, Fried Plantains, Black Beans & Avocado

[right] New York City ― Caracas Arepa Bar's La Mulata Arepa
Grilled White Cheese with Jalapeños, Sautéed Red Peppers, Fried Plantains & Black Beans

You're familiar with the concept. The Greeks have their pitas and the West Indians have their roti; Venezuelans have their arepas ― bread (typically grilled) made from cornmeal filled with STUFF. I tried an arepa for the first time in Manhattan, at Caracas Arepa Bar. As you can see by the photo, it was damn juicy and sinfully oily. When TO's Arepa Cafe first opened up, I admit, I was skeptical. It is, after all, TO's first arepa joint. I recently had the chance to check it out... and I can't help but compare it to the first arepa I had in NYC.

Overall, I enjoyed the flavours in Caracas Arepa Bar's La Mulata Arepa. Each ingredient complemented the next; all of them kinda melded together, creating a superb arepa. Conversely, it's as if the ingredients in Arepa Cafe's Veg Arepa were afraid to get to know their neighbours. Mr. Slice of Avocado didn't get the chance to shake hands with the Black Bean Brothers. The Old Cheddar Nannies always spied on the Plantain Twins, but never said "Hello" when the 20-somethings said "Hello" to them. Catch my drift?


  1. I had an arepa at the place in T.O and I totally agree. There wasn't enough textural diversity in the meal. The plantaines, beans, meat, etc, was all mushy. The one upside was the sauce that came with the meal. I would give the place another chance; there is a cozy vibe to the cafe and plenty of other food to choose from.

  2. Let's go! I want to try the cachapas (corn pancakes with fresco cheese and basil). The owner of Arepa Cafe, Eduardo Lee, is pictured carrying a dish of cachapas in this Globe & Mail article:

    Going glocal: Ideas from afar meet food from home

    Indeed, the three sauces to choose from were great (my fave was the spicy one), but they couldn't make up for the arepas' mediocrity.

  3. The spicy sauce not to much, but there was a mayo that caught my eye. It might be because any mayo enlarges my pupils and sends waves of madness to my brain. Creamed eggs and oils, why not. Flavored mayo even better. I have to admit making my own has never satisfied me. They must put something into the commercial brands and that makes them addictive.

    And yes, I am totally down for going there again. Or any restaurant of your picking for that matter. I want to explore as much as possible.

    P.S. A small restaurant in Vaughan to review that is cheap = AKI sushi across from Vaughan Mills.

  4. Hahaha at "any mayo enlarges my pupils and sends waves of madness to my brain." Love that. CHIPOTLE MAYO IS THE BOMB DIGGITY! I have yet to try making my own... at least you've tried.

    PPS. I already ate at a cheap-ish, low-key, Asian-y resto in Vaughan. Thanks for the AKI suggestion though. I've already eaten there and they "aiight."