New recipes

Lunch At Caracas Arepa Bar

Lunch At Caracas Arepa Bar


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

After we made our way through the hysterical chaos, Dara and I walked over to Caracas Apepa Bar for lunch.

The restaurant's interior space isn't frilly or fancy, but it does have one trait that most stuffy joints do not: a spacious outdoor patio. Obviously, being mid-December, Dara and I were not going to dine al-fresco but, nonetheless, it gave me a good reason to return during the warmer months.

After being seated at a cozy two-top overlooking the restaurant's outdoor patio, Dara and I were greeted by our stunningly-gorgeous, South American waitress. Trust me, if you weren't in the mood for Venezuelan cuisine prior to seeing and hearing her speak in her deliriously-sexy, native tongue, then I can guaran-damn-tee you of her powers to quickly make the arepa out to be the most foodgasmic delicacy that you never cared to try. Whew!

Prior to perusing the lunch menu, I ordered a glass of CAB's (Caracas Arepa Bar) "jugo naturale (natural fruit juice)" of the day: guava/mango. It was thick, but not syrupy - flavorful and refreshing, but not overly sweet. I loved the fact that the juice was served in a mason jar!

It took an unruly amount of time for Dara and I to finally come to a decision, in terms of what to order, food wise. However, with the aid of our waitress, we ultimately chose to split two, rather hefty, plates.

Yoyos: come on, with a name like "yoyos," how can you not want to order them just to say that you did? Hey, what did you have for lunch today? "I had yoyos. Why, what did you have?"
Joking aside, yoyos are fried plantain "balls" that are stuffed with salty, stringy white cheese. Without the accompanying maple syrup-like dipping sauce, I found the undressed yoyos to be rather bland in taste - as they were neither sweet nor, necessarily, savory. Meh.

La Popular Curiara (a platter of three arepas, split in half): while I found the yoyos to be mediocre, at best - the arepas, on the other hand, were dynamite. Here are the three versions that Dara and I chose to try:
La de Pabellon an arepa stuffed with shredded beef, black beans, salty white cheese, and fried sweet plantains
La Reina Pepiada an arepa stuffed with Venezuelan guacamole and shredded white-meat chicken
La Mulata an arepa stuffed with grilled with cheese, jalapenos, sauteed red peppers, fried sweet plantains, and black beans

The funny thing is this: of all three arepas, I actually enjoyed the chicken version the most. Quite the shocking conclusion coming from the mouth of someone who isn't a huge fan of poultry.

Needless to say, I found my experience at CAB to be positively unique, affordable, filling, and, most importantly, delicious.

~

Read it & eat,

The Lunch Belle


Why Caracas Arepa Bar’s House Salsa Is a Condiment All-Star

There are condiments that work best when they’re added to other foods, and then there are condiments so good that they’re a star attraction in their own right. Such is the case with Caracas Arepa Bar’s spicy, sweet, and tangy house sauce — or, as Caracas co-owner Maribel Araujo calls it, “salsa Caracas.”

I first encountered the gleaming, yellowish-green sauce in 2008. I was 19 years old, and had just moved to New York from my parents’ home in Gurgaon, India, to attend college. On one of my first solo outings to Manhattan, I made my way straight to Caracas. Although I didn’t know much about the city or its food scene, an aunt had told me that I had to check out the restaurant, which served what she described as the perfect street food.

And so I found myself standing outside of Caracas’s tiny storefront on East 7th Street. When I parted the curtains that hung just past its front door, they revealed a dark, narrow room with square tables lined up along a long wooden banquette.

I sat down and watched servers walk by with plates of what looked like tiny white sandwiches bursting with different fillings — I would later learn they were arepas, which I had imagined would be more like savory pancakes. It was my first time eating in a New York City restaurant, and my first encounter with Venezuelan food. I was curious and excited, and when I noticed a plastic squeeze bottle on the table, I squeezed a few dabs of sauce onto my finger. Trying sauces at restaurants long before the food arrives is a habit I’ve never been able to rid myself of, and this one reminded me why. It was spicy, but not in a fiery way, just enough to tickle my throat. It also had citrusy, herby flavor and a creamy sweetness, almost as if it was made with coconut milk.

I found myself going in for one dab after the next. Eventually I began to feel a little guilty that I might not have any left to eat with an arepa, and wondered if anyone had watched me greedily drain the bottle.

In a recent phone conversation, Araujo told me I wasn’t the only one consuming copious amounts of her salsa before the food had even arrived at the table. She said that servers frequently encounter customers asking for multiple squeeze bottle refills. On one occasion, she recalled, a server had to chase after a diner who was trying to make off with one of the bottles.

The sauce’s popularity is even more surprising to Araujo because it came about entirely by accident. Soon after Araujo opened the restaurant in 2003, Valerie Iribarren, the head chef at the time, was trying to find aji dulce peppers to use in various dishes but was having a hard time procuring them. Someone suggested a different chile pepper, but it wasn’t quite right. Iribarren didn’t want it to go to waste, so she decided to use the pepper to create a version of the traditional green guasacaca sauce that’s typically served alongside arepas in Venezuelan restaurants. Its ingredients include avocado, fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley, and chile peppers — though Araujo keeps her own recipe and its ingredients a closely guarded secret. Although the experimental sauce didn’t go down particularly well with Venezuelan customers, some of whom told Araujo it was a tad too sweet, it was an instant hit among most other diners like myself.

After Caracas opened, Araujo and co-owner Aristides Barrios began handing out the sauce in little to-go containers for diners to take home by the end of their first year in business, they were selling bottles of it.

In the years following my first memorable outing, I returned to Caracas over and over again. I introduced friends to the restaurant, brought my parents along when they visited for my college graduation, and took my boyfriend, who later became my husband. Each visit created new salsa Caracas acolytes.

But it wasn’t until several years after my first visit that I took home a bottle of my own, from the more expansive Williamsburg outpost that Caracas opened in 2008 (the restaurant also had a location on the Rockaway Beach boardwalk until last fall). I found myself drizzling copious amounts of the sauce on fried eggs at breakfast, sandwiches at lunch, and often onto just plain white rice at dinner. And yes, I ate it many, many times all by itself, squirting generous amounts straight from the bottle into my mouth.

Late last year, I was devastated to learn that Caracas was closing its East Village home after almost two decades. A major part of my New York City history was no more. But I took solace in the sauce, each dab a memory of my days as a young adult in the city. I can’t wait till I can make my way back to Caracas’s Williamsburg location again, and for the days when it might feel safe once more to squeeze sauce from a communal bottle and drizzle it atop Caracas’s pulled chicken and avocado arepa. And of course, I can’t wait to take a bottle — or two — home.

Caracas Arepa Bar’s house sauce ($11) is available for purchase at the restaurant or for local delivery through the restaurant’s website. Araujo says they’re also looking into making the sauce available for national and international shipping.

Update: This article has been updated with a clarification on the origin of the salsa


Lunch At Caracas Arepa Bar - Recipes

106-01 Shore Front Pkwy
Rockaway Park, NY 11694
(Summer only)

196 Stanton St.
New York, NY 10002
(Pick up & Delivery only)

Caracas Arepa Bar is devoted to the pleasure of homemade Venezuelan food. Since 2003 we have been dedicated to the idea of a space where authentic quality food converges with the eclectic vibe of our city.

What began as a small arepa store front in the East Village has paved the path to our full service Williamsburg, Brooklyn restaurant, and a beachside arepa outpost in Rockaway Beach, Queens. The Williamsburg location boasts a large dining room, outdoor patio space and a full cocktail bar we call, Roneria Caracas. Roneria essentially means “Rum Bar”, and a rum bar we are! With over 40 rums from Central America, South America and the Caribbean Islands, we are always coming up with something new for you to try in our Brooklyn location. Our Rockaway Beach location opened in 2011 and is the newest member of the Caracas Arepa Bar family. The Rockaway location is seasonal, open mid-May through September. Come by and see us at the beach all summer long and enjoy your arepa in it’s natural environment: beachside!

Our secret is consistency. It starts with a great deal of attention to choosing quality ingredients, and a lot of love for the craft of bringing the best of Venezuelan food to every table. No matter where you come from, whether you are part of the family or a first-time guest, you will feel the warmth of our dedication through the joy of our meals.

We are not a fast food joint, and certainly not a "Nuevo Latino" restaurant. From the beginning, we have been driven by a combination of nostalgia, entrepreneurship, and authenticity. Our passion is our craft and our pleasure is being able to share it with you.

Caracas Arepa Bar is only possible thanks to the dedication of its team led by native Venezuelans, Maribel Araujo and Aristides Barrios.

Roneria Caracas is a rum specialized bar located inside Caracas Arepa Bar Brooklyn. We feature more than 30 sipping rums from the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America and offer a unique cocktails menu with classics and not so classic where rum is used as the main spirit.


Caracas Arepa Bar: Reliably Delicious

Many people often ask me, “what are my favorite restaurants?” and I readily list Caracas Arepa Bar as one of my top choices. This spot has been one of my favorites for years not only is it a great value but it is consistently delicious. So, what is an arepa? Wikipedia defines it as “a flatbread made of ground maize dough…It can be served with various accompaniments such as cheese (cuajada), avocado, or (especially in Venezuela) split and used to make sandwiches.” In my words, I would describe it as a crispy hamburger with fillings.

The picture above was their leek jardinera made of grilled leeks, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions and guayanes cheese. Even though I’m not vegetarian, I always order this arepa because it is that good. The cheese helped balance the stronger flavors from the leeks and tomatoes. The caramelized onions added an intense sweetness, and offset their spicy green sauce (I douse it on all my arepas because it’s so delicious).

I also ordered their weekly special – Don Felix was stuffed with beef, mushrooms, peppers, and caramelized onions stir-fry layered with fresh handmade Venezuelan Guayanes cheese. Yes, and it was as tasty as it sounds. Each ingredient melded well together that created a meaty, hefty and delectable arepa.

If you’re exploring NYC, Caracas Arepa Bar is a must to go to. Not only is it affordable but it is really good, and has been for years. Be aware that there are wait times so there’s always the option to take it to go a few doors down!

Caracas Arepa Bar
93 1/2 E 7th St (between 1st Ave and Ave A)
New York, NY
(212) 529-2314


Reina Pepiada

Super cute place in Brooklyn and love the little outdoor garden in back.

We started with some good beer and appetizers - croquetas - deep fried yucca balls with chorizo - and tequeños - deep fried cheese sticks - both were delish though I liked the croquetas better.

For mains, we ordered the De Pabellón (shredded beef, black beans, cotija cheese, fried sweet plantains) and the Reina Pepiada (shredded chicken with creamy avocado) - both surprisingly flavorful and delicious.

Very friendly service, like a family-owned restaurant. Authentic Venezuelan arepas. Highly recommend a visit here.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Maria Q.
  • Chicago, IL
  • 264 friends
  • 88 reviews
  • 169 photos

Liked it but definitely didn't love it. Really modified an Americanized version of but a original Arepas.
Shame they didn't have the most popular out about this location. I believe Reina Pepiada is a must at every single Venusaur restaurant.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Alexander C.
  • Williamsburg, NY
  • 0 friends
  • 4 reviews
  • 1 photo

Caracas is a great ambassador of Venezuelan flavor. As a proud native i can say that they do a great job of translating the delight of eating in a late-night arepera in a new york setting. Their Reina Pepiada , although leaner than the mayonase based original recipe, delivers the same rich flavor and culinary experience.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Marissa K.
  • FLUSHING, NY
  • 83 friends
  • 21 reviews
  • 138 photos

I've been a fan of Caracas Arepa for 7-8 years. This was my first time at their BK location. We arrived at 11:57am, and they opened at noon. They let us in and sat us immediately with menus and water, which was a great first impression. Laura, our lovely, friendly, informative, hard working waitress was extremely helpful and provided us with the best experience. The BK location is the only one with a full bar. The lunch special is always a plus. Get an arepa of choice with a salad or soup for $8.50, which is super cheap when Arepas cost $7.25-$8.50 regularly.

We ordered a few arepas. My all time favorite is the "de pabellon", which never seize to disappoint with its crunchy arepa, shredded beef, cheese, beans, and sweet plantains, I tried the "playa deluxe", which was also delicious but different with its pan seared tilapia, garlic, mushroom, onion, and special mayo sauce. My friend ordered the " reina pepiada ", which is a chunky chicken avocado salad filling. It wasn't his fave, probably because it's a cold arepa rather than a warm/ hot filling like the others. We also ordered 2 plates of the "tostones mochimeros" and boy were they delish. Crunchy flat tostones with a spread of green mayo and sprinkles of their salty cheese.

Decor was cute warm and cozy with their old vintage mismatched wall/ceiling panels. Semi old or worn down looking furniture. Cool fixtures with Venezuelan flair. Definitely a cool spot in a hip neighborhood. I will definitely return and recommend this place.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Peter R.
  • Nashville, TN
  • 378 friends
  • 164 reviews
  • 199 photos

The sounds the atmosphere the food the smells the service everything was on point. By far some of the best arepas I've had even better than some places in Colombia. Cooked perfectly. Baked so they're not greasy. Perfect crunch on the outside soft on the inside. I had a tasting plate. It's not currently on the menu but I saw some pictures of it on yelp and just asked for it.

Food. La popular. 3 arepas cut in halves which were the reina pepiada (chicken and avocado mix salad) la mulata (white cheese w/jalapeños black beens fried sweet plantains) and de pabellon (shredded beef white salty cheese fried plantains and blackbeans) I ate them in that order and every bite was better than the last. These arepas were delicious. It can get really crowded especially by the bar and waiting area on busy nights but the staff does a nice job of moving things along as efficiently as possible. I'll definitely be back

Others will see how you vote!

I've tested 4 of the arepas, and they've all been great. The Reina Pepiada , the Pernil, and the Mulata stand out. If you like arepas, you won't find a better place in NY for them.

A beautiful, delicious surprise, though, was the Tostones Mochimeros they're mindblowingly good.

The service was very good, although the tables were very cramped. Also, if you go past 7:30, expect to wait at least half an hour for a table, and probably more along the lines of one hour. The rum bar's a nice distraction while you wait, though.

I've eaten at both the Williamsburg and the East Village locations, and I personally think the Williamsburg location's better. All in all, a fantastic meal at a very reasonable price.

Others will see how you vote!

With two locations, in Williamsburg and the East Village, Caracas offers a sit down restaurant as well as delivery. Both locations offer a great happy hour from 4-7PM, and the Williamsburg Caracas has an additional rum bar. Arepas are popular in Venezula because of their versatility and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

I went on Thursday and the restaurant was packed, but we were able to be seated immediately. I started with the Rockaway Margarita, made with orange liqueur and garnished with a lemon and salt rim. Killer drink. For starters, we shared the Croquetas, which were made from yucca potato cakes, deep fried with a chorizo, corn and cilantro filling. Bursting with flavor, the Croquetas has a light crispy exterior and a soft, creamy inside, served with a delicious sauce made primarily from cilantro. It resembled a chimmichurri but was thicker and bolder in flavor. It was so delicious with the croquetas, so we ordered extra for our arepas.

I ordered the Reina Pepiada Arepa, stuffed with a chicken and avocado salad mix. It was really good and I enjoyed the combination of the hot arepa, and cold chicken salad mix. The flavor of the avocado mixture and fresh shredded chicken was awesome. Kyle ordered the Los Muchachos Arepa, filled with grilled chorizo, spicy white cheese and jalapenos and sauteed peppers.

It was hard to choose one arepa because the menu is so creative and offers such a variety. Delicious and affordable, Caracas is a perfect for a post-work dinner spot, and even better if you make it before 7PM for their happy hour.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Kathleen D.
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • 363 friends
  • 383 reviews
  • 39 photos

I'll tell you this, they're just as tight-lipped about that secret sauce recipe at this location. I shouldn't seem surprised. I will let you know, I'm really close to getting that tangy, spicy, yellow-green sauce just right, it's just missing a little. hmm. something? I don't know why I thought that I'd get anywhere asking, oh so innocently and casually, "So what's in this?" Just cause we're at a different location, I thought guards would be down? I don't know. Well, skunked again.

While I like the East Village location just fine, I like this BK locale even better. I'm a bit taken with the back garden, and I'm not even an overly, "Ohh outdoor seating!" kinda gal. Caracas Arepa Bar, Williamsburg style, has a lovely enclosed stone patio in the back where willowy tree branches float down through the trellises, there's a sweet little Virgin Mary grotto, and you're seated on brightly colored repurposed milk-crates or wooden benches. It's adorable and comfortable and overall an excellent place to feast on some arepas. And everything plantains. I love plantains.

They make these "yoyos," served as sides or starters, that are sweet plantains and white cheese, fried in a cinnamony batter and served with a dipping syrup on the side. Oooh so good if you're feeling breakfast-brunchy. Yuca croquetas and cheesy tequenos are great bites for sharing too.

Of course you're coming for the arepas, and these arepas are the ones. The corn patties are light golden and crispy outside, fluffy and steamy inside. I love the "DePabellon," which is stuffed with savory shredded beef, salty white cheese, black beans, and delicious sweet plantains. Ample amounts of that salsa concoction in squirt bottles on your table make it all tastily complete. I would have originally repped DePabellon as my favorite, but the true truth of the matter is that the one I order most, her name is, "La Mulata." She's a vegetarian. This arepa really does the trick for the ole gal- it's full of grilled cheese, red peppers, hot jalapenos, black beans, and sweet plantains. I don't need to mention that table sauce again, but you know that goes right in there too.

If you can't seem to decide which arepa strikes your fancy and you're with a pal, Caracas Arepas Bar also offers a plate for two to share which features mini arepas versions each: two "DePabellon," two "La Mulata," and two " Reina Pepiada " (Mild yet tasty cold chicken and avocado salad). An arepas feast for two.

So, as I was sniffing around for the elusive salsa ingredients, almost as if to distract me away from pestering for clues, one of our friendly servers asked us if we really liked hot and spicy food. YES, in fact, yes we do! He vanished for a moment and then quickly reappeared with a squirt bottle of creamy orange sauce that was truly hot and flavorful. I loved it. Great stuff. Written on its masking tape label was the word, "Chingona." Was that the name? Cause if it's, "Chingona," if so, then it's an accurate one. cause that sauce was one badass business. Annnd now I'm fixated on another of their sauces. You ain't seen the last of me.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Rachel A.
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • 770 friends
  • 1518 reviews
  • 1754 photos
  • Elite ’21

Crackson Heights, Jack in the Crack, Snubway. and now Crapass.

Consider the moniker and cheap stabs a compliment and form of flattery. We can agree to disagree if you don't like Crapass. I am, however, one of the fans of Caracas. 4 stars!

Caracas brought the arepa sandwich mainstream. I have spent many a weekend lunches and cheap dinners sitting at the window of the take out store on East 7th. I waited once 40 minutes to sit at the tiny restaurant next door. And now Caracas has brought their arepa sandwiches to Williamsburg with an amply sized seating room, patio, and rum list for partaking. I like it. I like it a lot. It's a little lodge-like but I like it.

We got La Popular where they cut three sandwiches in half. Perfect for sharing. My favorite really is the La de Pabellon. There's something about the sweet plantains mixed with the shredded beef that really does it for me. I saved that one for my last sandwich. The sampler also came with La Reina Pepiada and La Mulata. The Reina Pepiada was my least favorite (chicken and avocado salad). But if you pour on the sauce they have on the table, it makes it a whole lot more exciting, tastier and a little spicy. The Mulata was pretty good. Frankly, I like anything spicy. And since it also had sweet plantains, the spiciness was balanced. So good. One sandwich will do for a snack but if you get a few for sharing, then it really becomes a proper meal.

For an appetizer we got the Tostones Mochimeros which my date rated as A+! I'm on a star rating scale and it was definitely up there. The Tostones Mochimeros were pretty interesting. Pretty and delectable. Smashed fried green plantains topped with mojito mayo and white cheese. Maybe cotija. Can't wait to order them again.

This location is a bit out of the way for me but worth the trek if you want to relax a bit in a nicer setting than the East Village one. Hmmm. I think you will be on the L train less than your wait time for Manhattan.

Others will see how you vote!

  • Lindsay H.
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • 332 friends
  • 29 reviews
  • 21 photos

Caracas definitely does not Need to be reviewed. It is, however, my favorite restaurant in the city, so how can I not review it?

I've been to both Caracas restaurants (E.Village and Williamsburg) plenty of times. The food is consistently amazing and fresh at both locations. You want cute and cozy (with a potential 40min wait unless there are only 2 of you)? Go to the East Village. You want spacious and filled with rum? Go to Williamsburg. Totally different, both amazing. And Always check the specials menu. There's always something delicious on it! (like mini arepas topped with quail eggs, por ejemplo)

Let me lay it out for you

To start:
-The tequeños are definitely my favorite side kick. I consider them to be Venezuelan mozzarella sticks (without the mozzarella). They are crunchy and the cheese inside is always oozy. They go very well with the yellow house sauce placed on every table. I almost always get them.
-The yoyos aren't as sweet and juicy as maduros even though they are still made of fried sweet plantains, but they are still good esp. with the cheese inside. They come with a sauce that tastes like raisins that my boyf loves. If you really like raisins, I supposed you'd love it too.. I liked the yoyos better without that sauce though.
-Guasacaca & Chips: can't really go wrong there

-The Drinks:
-Papelón con limón: sweet and tart
-Cocado: coconut and cinnamon. Light and slightly sweet with that little kick from cinnamon
-Cold Toddy: Yummy chocolate milkshake, essentially
-Mimosa de Parchita: I love passion fruit and this is a lovely way to showcase it
Only in Williamsburg- yummy dark and stormy, Guarapitas with varying fruity flavors are always delicious, great Artisan Pisco Sour.

The arepas: The arepa shell is light, with a little crunch on the outside and soft interior. But beware, it can easy soak up the juices of the meat and make for a messy meal. This is just part of the delicious experience! Have a napkin handy!
Every time I go with my boyf, I get the "De Pabellón." It is undoubtedly the best arepa they have. Sweet, savory, cheesy, perfection! My absolute favorite! And my boyf always tries the arepa special of the day which is consistently delicious. However, we've had plenty of the regular arepas on the menu:
Reina Pepiada - probably my least favorite arepa there, but it is still fresh with the avocado salad
La del Gato- great for vegetarians, lovely mix of sweetness and freshness
De Pollo- great with the caramelized onion, perfect for your less adventurous friends
Los Muchachos- spicy! gotta love chorizo
La de Pernil-excellent with the spicy mango sauce!
La Mulata-sweetness with a kick!
La Sureña- delicious chimichurri sauce

Dessert:
-3 Words: GET THE MARQUESA.
Absolutely delicious! Thick chocolate mousse that will make your taste buds dance with joy! Maria cookies may not be great on their own, but strategically placed at the bottom of this mousse, they get soft and contrast amazingly with the mousse. I cannot say enough good things about this dessert, you must try it yourself!
-Quesillo: I love Caracas, I love flan. but not Caracas's flan. If you want a good flan, go to Cubana Cafe in Brooklyn. The Quesillo is actually the only item at Caracas that I have not thorough enjoyed, which is pretty amazing. I guess it's because they don't use cream cheese in their flan.

To summarize: Ideal meal? Cocktail, Tequeños, De Pabellón arepa, Marquesa. Done and done. Caracas for life!


Itinerant foodies

The Subject: La Sureña, from Venezuelan favorite Caracas Arepa Bar.

This tiny East Village storefront opened in 2003, and, thanks to a winning combination of low prices and solid food, it’s been full-to-overflowing with hungry hordes pretty much ever since. A second branch popped up in Brooklyn a few years ago, and when I found myself in the neighborhood on a recent sunny afternoon, I decided to take advantage of the patio for an al fresco lunch.

Outer Goods: Similar in style to a Middle Eastern pita sandwich or a Trinidadian double, the griddled corn cake known as the arepa is sturdy on the outside, yet pillowy-soft on the inside, which makes it an excellent vehicle for any number of fillings, no matter how wet and sloppy.

Inner Beauty: Nearly half of the arepas on offer are vegetarian, but as usual, I was lured toward the carnivorous when I spotted this chorizo-and-chicken combination as soon as I realized that the meat would be bookended by chimichurri and slices of fresh avocado, I looked no further. Don’t ask me why, but I was expecting shredded, possibly even stewed chicken, so the grilled breast meat came as a (not a wholly welcome) surprise. It did, however, give me the perfect excuse to repeatedly dowse the moist but bland chicken with the restaurant’s legendarily addictive special sauce, a move that would eventually bring me to tears. Which, of course, I love.

Accessories: Various hypotheses swirl around the aforementioned sauce, the secrets of which the Caracas team refuses to reveal. It’s speculated that fruit of some sort—likely mango or papaya—is blended with chilies, cilantro, garlic, and vinegar for that sweet-hot burn. (This recipe, which attempts to recreate the magic, doesn’t call for any spice, but otherwise appears to be right on the money.) Another essential accompaniment, especially if you use a heavy hand with that sauce?

A little something from the cocktail list, of course. I went with a rum Manhattan, starring deliciously aged, decidedly non-Bacardi liquor, homemade bitters, and marinated blueberries. Sipped slowly before my food came out and with a bit more urgency after, it was a miracle I managed to limit myself to just one.

Verdict: I was less than impressed with La Sureña, but in the past, I’ve enjoyed De Pabellón (shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese, and sweet plantains) and La de Pernil (roasted pork shoulder with tomato slices and a spicy mango sauce) I’d return to try La Mulata, which sounds like sweet-salty-spicy heaven (sweet plaintains, cheese, and jalapeños, among other things), and the rest of the cocktail menu. And I might take home a bottle of that special sauce while I’m at it.

Caracas Arepa Bar
291 Grand st.
Brooklyn, NY
718.218.6050


Caracas Arepa Bar

The Place: Caracas Arepa Bar, 93 1/2 7th Street near the corner of 1st Avenue, East Village, NYC. Open everyday 12 noon to 11 PM. Take the L to 1st Ave, F/V to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor Place, N, R to 8th Street.

The Plate: Dinner for 3, including an appetizer, sandwiches and drinks.

The Damage: Under $50 for 3 people

My love for arepas, the flat Venezuelan corn bread often served as a sandwich, goes back to my days at Coyote Grill. While their version is akin to an American pancake, “real” arepas are more savory than sweet and earn their flavor from the accompanied fillings. Enter: Caracas Arepa Bar. This East Village joint is small, but packs big flavor. After I learned Bobby Flay challenged the owner to a throwdown (the verdict: Caracas > Flay), I knew I had to see for myself.

Last night, I met a few friends (one old, one new – what can I say, I’m a Girl Scout at heart) at their East Village location. Our 󈬎-40 minute wait” was more like 15 (it helps to befriend the host.) We sandwiched ourselves at the tiny table and dove into the menu. The selection consisted of small and larger plates with 14 arepas, 4 types of empanadas, salads, appetizers (“sidekicks”) and desserts.

We started off with drinks, skipping over their wine and beer in favor of some house cocktails ($5-7), that coincidently, included wine and beer (no liquor to be found.) I choose the tinto de verano, a fizzy Venezuelan sangria. Fruity and refreshing, it was not as sweet as traditional Spanish sangria. My friend Dan went straight for an unusual spicy beer and lemonade concoction, served in a salt-rimmed Mason jar. To round out the mix, my friend Claudia ordered a mimosa spiked with passion fruit, presumably served during their brunch hours.

For an appetizer, we shared a plate of yoyos ($5.50), fried sweet plantains balls stuffed with white cheese and served with a syrupy mollasas dipping sauce. At first bite, I was getting a distinctively french toast vibe from these yoyos, crispy and sweet with a salty kick from the cheese. After a good dose of hot sauce, these yoyos were no child’s play.

Arepa time. Served grilled and stuffed with a number of fillings, there was something for everyone. Dan’s pick: the Reina Pepiada ($6.75) brimming with chicken and avocado salad a clear winner for this newbie to the arepa arena. Claudia chose La Surena ($7.50), complete with grilled chicken, chorizo sausage, avocado and chimi-churri sauce. No stranger to spice, this arepa brought the heat. To my delight, there were 5 vegetarian arepas. My choice? La del Gato ($6.25),a combination of Venezuelan guyanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado. The cheese was soft and salty, the perfect complement to the mellow avocado and sweet plantains. With a splash of their tangy homemade hot sauce, La del Gato reached a whole new level of delicious.

Aside from a small altercation in our dinner bill, the service was friendly and quick. With another location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a slammin’ weekday lunch special (arepa+soup or salad for $7.95) and a nifty to-go operation, there will definitely be more arepas in my future.


Archives

    (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (2) (2) (1) (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (4) (2) (2) (2) (2) (1) (1) (1) (1) (2) (3) (1) (3) (3) (3) (3) (5) (2) (5) (2) (1) (1) (5) (8) (7) (9) (9) (9) (9) (11) (18) (19) (16) (24) (23) (28) (24) (25) (29) (42) (72) (59) (51) (56) (57) (53) (56) (58) (57) (52) (57) (58) (58) (59) (41) (57) (71) (69) (51) (51) (34) (25) (14) (19) (20) (46) (36) (27) (24) (23) (1) (1) (6) (8) (5) (3) (10) (19) (16) (15) (5) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1) (2)

Perfect Pockets

Editor's Note: This article was written before the COVID-19 crisis for what would have been our print Women's Issue. Caracas Arepa Bar's Rockaway Beach location is closed indefinitely, but their East Village and Williamsburg locations are open for pickup and delivery. Follow @caracasarepabar for updates and ordering info.

Maribel Araujo serves her arepas hot, fresh and dry. But when she has lines spilling onto the Rockaway Beach boardwalk, with summer demand peaking at 1,000 arepas on weekends and 400 on weekdays, and the construction of each pocket takes 20 minutes (and a two-step cooking process), a logistical equation emerges—one she’s refined since starting Caracas Arepa Bar in 2003.

“We make our arepas to order,” says Araujo inside her colorful Rockaway eatery, the third location following the East Village and Williamsburg. “So that’s a big, big challenge on our operation.”

She co-owns the business with Aristides “Gato” Barrios, her former husband, and is the holder of the secret house sauce recipe. “Someone claimed to crack the code—they didn’t,” she affirms.

Once fired from a Park Avenue bistro for being “too funky” with her lip piercing and blue eyeliner (they’re both gone now), she got a real-life master class in running a restaurant with a surprise 2003 New York Times write-up that put Caracas Arepa Bar on the map and a fire that burned it to the ground in 2016.

These days she’s all about the arepas. “It starts with room-temperature water,” Araujo says as she fills a metal mixing bowl. She adds just enough salt so it tastes “lighter than sea water” a bit of oil and very fine pre-cooked corn flour, unlike the coarser variety used for Italian polenta or the lime-treated kind that creates an “elastic feel” in Salvadoran pupusas or Mexican tortillas. Her fingers whisk and squeeze at what starts to resemble white mounds of mashed potato. She rolls a fistful into a ball once the flour “doesn’t stick” to her skin and slaps it flat from one hand to the other.

“It's almost like creating a relationship with the dough—how you’re feeling it in your hands and knowing [if you need] more water or less water.” Because the dough—and her 25-person team makes 300 arepas worth of dough at a time—reacts to the changing climate. It evaporates faster on drier days as it waits to be hauled from kitchen to griddle.

There, a cook scoops and arranges a phalanx of 30 white patties, grilling each side for a few minutes to cook just halfway. “It’s like an omelet,” says Araujo. You have to form “the crust that’s actually going to allow you to flip it perfectly.” Once the second side achieves the satisfying crispy browned exterior, the arepas are moved into a plastic container and stacked five high until an order comes in. The arepa then moves into the induction oven “so that it cooks a little bit inside, too.”

“In Venezuela, you’re born [into] the recipe,” says Araujo. “My nana, dad, mom, sister—we would all be making it in our kitchen every single day. It’s our bread, you know.”

After three minutes in the oven, Araujo pulls each arepa out by hand (finger pads of steel) and takes them to the “arepero” station where they’re sliced and stuffed. The Rockaway location serves the chain’s bestsellers. There’s the classic arepa pabellón—“it’s the Venezuelan national dish”—with black beans, shredded beef, fried sweet plantains, white salty cheese the reina pepiada with chicken salad, avocado, peppers, onions and herbs and the arepa “Gato” with the eponymous co-owner’s favorite fillings: Guayanés cheese, avocado and sweet plantain.

For a saucy kick, Araujo offers their famous house sauce and two traditional guasacacas: a green, garlicky, herbal sour-ish one and a chunky guacamole. With a nod to the Mexican staff that helps run the American restaurant industry, including hers, she and her cooks make “la chingona,” a spicy Mexican take on the milk-based Venezuelan ajicero sauce.

“I opened Caracas Arepa Bar to promote our culture through our food, but obviously adapting to where we are,” she says. “Kids come here with a $5 bill and I can barely see them over the counter and they go, ‘Can I have French fries?’” So she included this golden-fried staple of American beach food on her menu. As well as a jackfruit meat substitute.

Rockaway locals had to be introduced to arepas. So did the summer crowds who started coming in throngs with the Rockaway revitalization project. “We have to compare them with pita pockets or bao buns or burgers.” But the residents now “know exactly what they want, they pronounce our food in Spanish, and they feel comfortable.”

This common food vernacular is what Araujo is aiming for. “Our mission is to find a place for arepas in the New York City menu in the same way that you say ‘I’m going for sushi’ or ‘I’m going for tacos.’”

Just one thing: When you go for one of Araujo’s arepas, make sure you eat it immediately. “That way, you have the dryness of the arepa, hot out of the oven, the crunchiness of one thing that’s meant to be crunchy and not soggy.”


Caracas Arepa Bar

The Place: Caracas Arepa Bar, 93 1/2 7th Street near the corner of 1st Avenue, East Village, NYC. Open everyday 12 noon to 11 PM. Take the L to 1st Ave, F/V to 2nd Ave, 6 to Astor Place, N, R to 8th Street.

The Plate: Dinner for 3, including an appetizer, sandwiches and drinks.

The Damage: Under $50 for 3 people

My love for arepas, the flat Venezuelan corn bread often served as a sandwich, goes back to my days at Coyote Grill. While their version is akin to an American pancake, “real” arepas are more savory than sweet and earn their flavor from the accompanied fillings. Enter: Caracas Arepa Bar. This East Village joint is small, but packs big flavor. After I learned Bobby Flay challenged the owner to a throwdown (the verdict: Caracas > Flay), I knew I had to see for myself.

Last night, I met a few friends (one old, one new – what can I say, I’m a Girl Scout at heart) at their East Village location. Our 󈬎-40 minute wait” was more like 15 (it helps to befriend the host.) We sandwiched ourselves at the tiny table and dove into the menu. The selection consisted of small and larger plates with 14 arepas, 4 types of empanadas, salads, appetizers (“sidekicks”) and desserts.

We started off with drinks, skipping over their wine and beer in favor of some house cocktails ($5-7), that coincidently, included wine and beer (no liquor to be found.) I choose the tinto de verano, a fizzy Venezuelan sangria. Fruity and refreshing, it was not as sweet as traditional Spanish sangria. My friend Dan went straight for an unusual spicy beer and lemonade concoction, served in a salt-rimmed Mason jar. To round out the mix, my friend Claudia ordered a mimosa spiked with passion fruit, presumably served during their brunch hours.

For an appetizer, we shared a plate of yoyos ($5.50), fried sweet plantains balls stuffed with white cheese and served with a syrupy mollasas dipping sauce. At first bite, I was getting a distinctively french toast vibe from these yoyos, crispy and sweet with a salty kick from the cheese. After a good dose of hot sauce, these yoyos were no child’s play.

Arepa time. Served grilled and stuffed with a number of fillings, there was something for everyone. Dan’s pick: the Reina Pepiada ($6.75) brimming with chicken and avocado salad a clear winner for this newbie to the arepa arena. Claudia chose La Surena ($7.50), complete with grilled chicken, chorizo sausage, avocado and chimi-churri sauce. No stranger to spice, this arepa brought the heat. To my delight, there were 5 vegetarian arepas. My choice? La del Gato ($6.25),a combination of Venezuelan guyanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado. The cheese was soft and salty, the perfect complement to the mellow avocado and sweet plantains. With a splash of their tangy homemade hot sauce, La del Gato reached a whole new level of delicious.

Aside from a small altercation in our dinner bill, the service was friendly and quick. With another location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a slammin’ weekday lunch special (arepa+soup or salad for $7.95) and a nifty to-go operation, there will definitely be more arepas in my future.


Watch the video: Caracas Arepa Bar at Rockaway Beach (June 2022).


Comments:

  1. Typhon

    I believe that you are wrong. I can defend my position.

  2. JoJonris

    In my opinion you are not right. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM, we will talk.

  3. Bhaic

    It is a pity, that now I can not express - I am late for a meeting. But I will return - I will necessarily write that I think on this question.

  4. Ryan

    I didn't understand everything.

  5. Kramoris

    You are wrong. Write to me in PM, we'll talk.

  6. Wattkins

    Nice!

  7. Tharen

    Not the hardship!



Write a message