When I was going to meet up with a couple of friends, who were visiting New York City from Texas, for dinner, they wanted me pick the place. That means I immediately asked them, “What have you already eaten since you’ve been here?” “What kind of food are you in the mood for?” “How fancy do you want it to be?” They answered my fire-line questioning and then proceeded to tell me that they were going to be in the East Village area until I could meet them. I was like okay, perfect! The East Village has tons of great options! So which to choose?
They mentioned that they wanted to try Big Gay Ice Cream at some point, and then a lightbulb went off in my head. We should eat dinner at Caracas Arepa Bar. It’s just a couple doors down from Big Gay, happens to be something a little different since it’s Venezuelan cuisine, and is, of course, delicious. Done.
Caracas Arepa Bar has a few locations in New York City from Manhattan to Brooklyn to the Rockaways. The one we went to in the East Village is quite tiny. There’s not much seating room at all, and what there is is fairly cramped. So I definitely don’t recommend this place for big groups, and be prepared for a wait.
If you don’t know what an arepa is, it’s kind of like a thick, flatbread made of corn flour. It can be served split open like a sandwich and that’s how Caracas Arepa Bar does it with a variety of fillings from shredded beef to grilled chicken to leeks to tilapia. I ordered the La de Pernil, which has roasted pork shoulder, tomato slices, and spicy mango sauce, as well as the La Sureña, which has grilled chicken, chorizo, avocado, and spicy chimi-churri sauce. At around $7 to $8 each, you could probably get by with making a meal out of one arepa, especially if you’re ordering some sort of appetizer or side. But, of course, you know me…I couldn’t decide between the two so I ordered both, and we all split the tostones mochimeros, which are fried green plaintains topped with mojito mayo, lemon juice, and white cheese.
The buns are super dense with a nice crisp on the outside, so it helps that they stuff so much filling inside to balance it out. The La de Pernil was definitely my favorite out of the two. Don’t forget to try some of the secret house sauce they have on the tables in squeeze bottles. I basically had an arepa in one hand and that bottle in the other, because I wanted to douse each bite I took in that delicious hot sauce. And man, those tostones were fantastic. We ordered them per our waiter’s recommendation, and he definitely did not let us down. I’ve heard that their guacamole is also fantastic, and interestingly enough, I’ve also heard that their milkshakes are great. Those come in either coconut and banana flavor, and since I’m obsessed with coconut anything I’ll have to order one next time.
Oh, and remember when I said you would probably get full off of one arepa and a side dish? Well, not only did I order two and split a side, but we also all shared their tres leches. Hey, it’s all in the name of blog research okay! Their version of tres leches was wonderfully coconutty, so see, I got some kind of coconut. I was incredibly stuffed by the end of the meal but also so glad I got to try an assortment of things. If you’re looking to try arepas for the first time, you can’t go wrong here.
Tostones mochimeros, La Sureña, La de Pernil, tres leches
93 1/2 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009