My sense of adventure disappears about the time I’m handed a menu. I often describe myself as having a “child’s palette” and usually find a familiar and safe selection at every restaurant. I owe some good friends with more sophisticated taste for introducing me to a new and incredibly enjoyable item on my last trip to New York City.
Caracas Arepa Bar is located in the East Village. It is as colorful and full of character as the Venezuelan culture it brings to Manhattan. The casual atmosphere put me at ease and the crowd of hungry patrons promised that this had to be good. And it was fantastic.
An arepa, for those who are new to this like me, is a cornmeal bread that resembles the English muffin in size and color, though the texture is a little more granular. These patties can be stuffed or topped with just about anything, but Caracas does this expertly. Their menu selections combine ingredients I would never think complement each other. Clearly, they know what they are doing because everything I ate was tremendous. I gathered that my friends thought the same from the ooh’s, ahh’s, and mmm’s that dominated our conversation.
To give you a better idea of what an arepa is exactly and how good Caracas is at their specialty, watch the video below of Bobby Flay’s Throwdown with the chefs.
I personally tried the Tajadas (fried, sweet plantains served with a dry, salty cheese), feasted on the La Pelúa (shredded beef with cheddar cheese), and sampled the Reina Pepiada (which seemed like a guacamole based chicken salad). I can confidently recommend them all.
As a bonus to the delicious food at Caracas, the prices are still reasonable. But go sometime soon, before the popularity and the prices soar.
Unfortunately, the only other location of this restaurant is in Brooklyn. Still a flight away from my home. So, if you are or someone you know is a Venezuelan cook with a talent for business and lives in the Birmingham, AL area, I am begging; open an arepa bar in the area. I can promise my patronage, and I feel more than optimistic that such an establishment would find a niche here.