The name kinda gives it away, this is Venezuelan street food at its best. Located on a quintessential East Village street, you’ll find, hands-down, the tastiest Venezuelan food in NYC.
When you walk in, you’ll notice the wall is plastered with chachkies. You know we Latinos LOOOOOOVEEEEE our chucherías. My grandmas apartment was lush with trinkets and figurines so I felt right at home.
There are about a million Simón Bolivar figures alongside crucifixes, hearts, photos, old tin cans, overall conjuring up a very authentic feel. Just like the food…
They been able to create the exact the flavors and textures I had when eating arepas and other street food in Venezuela. They’re crispy on the outside and pillowy-soft on the inside with a delicate corn flavor that compliments just about any filling.
They stuff these fat babies with a myriad of fillings. I’ve been getting their La del Gato arepa for years, it comes with Guyanés cheese (which is a soft, salty white cheese with the texture of mozzarella), avocado, and sweet plantains.
Except I substitute tomatoes for the sweet plantains. I know that sounds like sacrilege to us Latinos but with the chubbier than life arepa it gets a little too carb-i-licious with the plantains for my taste.
I went with my mom and she got the Jardinera, which had caramelized leeks and sundried tomatoes married with the Guyanés cheese. It was tasty but I must confess, she had a little food envy. And I can’t blame her, mine was perfect and refreshing on the crazy hot Spring day we went.
If you go and it’s not on listed on the menu, ask for some classics, they usually have the ingredients on hand. The biggest crowd pleaser is called the Reina Pepiada, it’s shredded chicken mixed with Venezuelan guacamole, guasacaca.
If you don’t know about guasacaca, you haven’t lived! It has a much stronger flavor than your average guacamole because they usually add fresh garlic and vinegar instead of lime juice. It’s sooooo good with chicken. On anything really…
But it’s not just about arepas (although I could live on them). I’d be remiss to not mention the other offerings, because they’re damn good. Caracas Arepa Bar has the best Latin mozzarella sticks around.
They’re called tequeños and I cannot resist them. In fact, I deliberately don’t go to this restaurant when I’m in the area if I’m trying to avoid fried food. Because I know I’ll have absolutely no will power.
They have a wonton wrapper-ish exterior with super salty cheese that pairs well with their sweet and spicy house sauce.
All of this washes down way too nicely with a drink called papelón con limón, otherwise known as Venezuelan limeade. It’s pilloncillo (unrefined sugar cane) mixed with water and fresh lime juice. Oh it’s fresh alright (Steve Harvey voice)…
I felt like a fat cat leaving that place but always dream of the food for days after I’ve eaten there. I’ve been going since it opened in 2003 and the food has been ridiculously consistent that entire time. That’s pretty amazing, lots of respect to the owners and chefs.
I’ll definitely be going back soon…