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Jan 9, 2009 07:47 PM

Where to get (good) arepas in Ocean/Monmouth County?

My friend in NYC has been raving about this place called Caracas ( in the city and their arepas. Apparently, Bobby Flay even went there for a throw down with the ladies who own the place! Finally over the summer I made it into the city and had one - and I was immediatly hooked.

It's been hard for me to trek up to the city the past few months but have been dying for an arepa.. Does anyone know of any comparable places to Caracas in our area?

I did a search and saw El Familiar in Freehold has them but there's mix reviews.. Any other insights would be greatly appreciated!


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  1. Go to El Familiar in Toms River rt 9.....they are not related.

    Great authentic arepas dishes like Carne Helgado, etc etc

    11 Replies
    1. re: Tapas52

      I've been to Caracas in the E Village in NYC and El Familiar in Freehold. Caracas is wonderful. Everything we ate (at least half the menu) was at worst good and at best sublime. I even long for another bowl of their soup. The three arepas I tried in Freehold were all terrible - from the arepa to the filling, not a saving grace to be had.

      I have heard good things about El Familiar down south on Rt. 9, but I have never been since I don't get out that way often.

      On an interesting side note... We recently had a holiday party at the school I teach at in New Brunswick. One girl's mother made what essentially was a Peruvian arepa dish with potatos and eggs for the topping and it was really good. Throwdown? ;o)

      1. re: Tapas52

        i go to el fam. in TR all the time for arepas, especially chicharrones!!! ahhhhh bacon, beautiful bacon.

        1. re: chefMD

          Yes, Chef Nicholas does such a fine job to make everything authentic...especially when he is personally cooking in the kitchen
          & if your lucky many times he'll add some super specials to the menu.


        2. re: Tapas52

          Tapas - You were right on about Wang Sushi.. El Familiar (Toms River) is now next on my list.


          1. re: nachoswithcocoa

            We tried El Familiar yesterday. I would say that the recommendations here are valid - tasty arepas, indeed. My wife ordered the shrimp arepas -- simple preparation with tomatoes and onions, very nice flavors.

            I enjoyed the arepa con chicharrones very much, but I don't think I will be ready to eat deep fried pork fat again for a while. An added bonus was the brown salsa!

            1. re: MGZ

              MGZ ......Glad you enjoyed yourself at El Familiar we love this place.....
              a few dishes I would suggest are...

              1- Empanadas
              2- Carne Helgado con Arepa
              3- Pork Tinga
              4- Mountain Platters
              5- Country Platters
              6- Garlic Shrimps
              7- Whole Red Snapper
              9- Sancocho Ox Tail Soup
              8- Ice Cream w/ Sweet Chips

              1. re: Tapas52

                Thanks. I noticed the Mountain and Country platters on the menu we brought home. They seemed like the way to go. Also, I noticed fresh water fish dishes, I don't see that very often.

                1. re: MGZ

                  Usually on weekends Chef Nicholas offers many Fresh Whole Fish Specials like Porgy, Red Snapper, Grouper, etc.. which is very popular with the Latino Community..The Mountain platters are a good bang for the buck for sure which give you a lil of everything.

              2. re: MGZ


                girlie man...... the only thing that would make those chicharrones better? dip them in chocolate with habanero....

                btw, i have now been to wang sushi, banji sushi(bayville rt 9) and just got home from aamantran in TR. i have a lot of posting to do....

                1. re: chefMD

                  I must have eaten 4 or 5 jalepenos with them!

              3. re: nachoswithcocoa


                Your very welcome glad you enjoyed it...I've been there many times & still have a few dishes to try on the extensive menu. !!


            2. I must admit I was just a tad disappointed with my arepa from El Familiar in Toms River. I suppose I was just expecting it to be just like Caracas.. where the arepa is cut in half and the goodies are inside. Instead.. for example my mom got the chorizo con arepa.. and the arepa was no bigger than maybe 2 1/2 inches in diameter and just on a plain plate next to the chorizo. I've been hyping up arepas since I had them for the first time at Caracas.. so my mom was kind of like "That's it??"

              The ones at Caracas were also light and crisp.. the ones here seemed a little too doughy and overcooked... But like I said.. (and I must stress this..) I am an absolute arepa rookie so maybe this is how they're supposed to be!

              I also ordered the Shrimp Quesadilla (adventurous, I know haha) which was great - could've used a bit more shrimp though. But it was very tasty. My mom ordered the flautas and decided she will definitely be dining there again.

              So thanks everyone for your suggestions! But I'm still on the hunt for a Caracas-ish clone!

              3 Replies
              1. re: nachoswithcocoa

                As both a foodie and a cynic I wish you luck in your search. Honestly though I doubt that you will find something like Caracas. There is a reason that it is worth a trip to the E. Village and the women there beat Bobby Flay in the throwdown.

                My theory is that it takes a woman to make great arepas. All the best ones I have had (Caracas, The Arepa Lady, my student's mother) were made by women. So, what we need to do is to find a woman who can make them and set her up maybe in the space that used to hold Thyme Square in Red Bank ...

                1. re: seal

                  You'd have to sell a whole lot of arepas to pay the rent in that space!

                  1. re: seal

                    Hey.. I'm a woman! And I'm half latina.. maybe I'll look up a killer recipe and give it a go. This could turn into a disaster though.. hahahaha