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Arepas en NYC???

c
cert1006 May 12, 2011 12:38 PM

I'm wondering if anyone knows where to get a good Venezuelan arepa... maybe even a good cachapa!!
Any other hole in the wall latin joints would be greatly appreciated as well. Thanks

  1. d
    dinerfan Sep 25, 2013 05:39 AM

    There's a place in Norwalk, CT, a popular lunch and dinner spot that serves terrific arepas, although I can't vouch for their authenticity being unfamiliar with the genuine article. Valencia's Luncheria is on Main Avenue and has been featured in the Food Network's Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.

    1. m
      michelleats Jun 13, 2011 01:56 PM

      Here's a brief review of El Cocotero. Accompanying pictures are here: http://www.girleatscity.com/2011/06/e...

      El Cocotero is a cozy, charming little Venezuelan restaurant tucked away on a quiet little street i Chelsea, right across from a post office. Tables are somewhat tight, but on the evening we went, the restaurant was 3/4 full and our group of six had just enough room to maneuver without feeling completely claustrophobic. The walls are painted a pretty dark blue and the two large windows facing the front of the restaurant were wide open to catch the cool evening breeze.

      Not long after we all sat and ordered, our friendly waitress brought out an appetizer of home-style arepa chips with guasacaca / Venezuelan style guacamole (pictured, below, half eaten, since we were so excited to dig in, we forgot to take a picture, at first) was likable, but sat like lead in our stomachs. I'm guessing this is the fate that awaits arepas not consumed the day of. They're sliced and deep fried into delicious chips, with a bit of crunch on the outside and a bit of chew on the inside. The arepa chips were very greasy, either because of the inherently absorbent nature of arepas or because the fryer was not hot enough. They came with an intensely and deliciously garlicky, but slightly oversalted guasacaca, a Venezuelan-style guacamole, typically made with vinegar, olive oil and parsley, ingredients not used in the Mexican style guacamoles more commonly found in NYC. Despite the oversalting, though, the thick, creamy dip (smoother than many Mexican guacamoles) was delicious, made with good, ripe avocados.

      An order of cachapa con pollo mechado / fresh, sweet corn pancakes with stewed shredded chicken was substantial -- probably enough for a meal by itself. The gorgeously golden, thin pancakes were somewhat overwhelmed by the thick layer of moist, delicious chicken filling, however, and their sweetness seemed unnatural. Even very fresh, sweet corn is usually not this sweet. I'm fairly certain the restaurant adds a bit of sugar to the cachapas. To my tastes, these cachapas would have been even more delicious without the added sugar.

      My favorite of the dishes we tried was the arepa pabellon / baked white cornmeal pockets filled with shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantain, and grated cheese (pictured at the top of this post). The arepa was perfect: greaseless, but moist, substantial, very fragrant and texturally similar to south Indian iddly. These arepas are clearly made fresh at El Cocotero. They were slightly overstuffed with pabellon filling, but the components of the filling were nicely proportioned, giving equal play to the beef, beans, plantain and cheese. The stewed, shredded beef was moist and very tender, a cold-weather food that tasted especially wonderful in the coolness of the evening breeze, blowing in through the open windows.

      The hallaca / Venezuelan style corn tamale, stuffed with a stew of chicken, beef, pork, olives, raisins & capers, wrapped in banana leaves, served with a Venezuelan style potato salad, was another strong dish. Unlike many other tamales, where the masa takes center stage, the masa in this monster of a hallaca was a small, almost insignificant component, and it also was the least flavorful. The nicely creamy masa didn't pick up much of the fragrance from the banana leaf, for some reason. The filling, though, was gorgeously rich and invoked all our tastebuds. I was less a fan of the very heavily mayonnaisey potato salad, which included chicken, apples. and raisins. It was well made, with soft, but not mushy, potatoes, but too heavily dressed and a bit too sweet for my tastes.

      Service was nice and very patient. Our only complaint has to do with the price of the pitchers of Sangria, which were small, weak, filled with a lot of ice and $30, each. Alcoholic beverages, with prices, are not listed on the menu anywhere, so buyer beware: ask, before you buy. In my opinion, the pitcher wasn't a wonderful deal, but wasn't a total ripoff, either. Several members of our party, who were more used to Brooklyn pricing, were outright shocked and appalled, however.

      All in all, I loved the food, here. It is not as inexpensive as some Venezuelan restaurants in NYC, but the execution is across the board competent to excellent. I can't wait to come back to try the patacón, empanadas and of course, more of the extensive arepa menu. I probably will not have another pitcher of sangria.

      -----
      El Cocotero
      228 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

      1. Deb Van D May 15, 2011 07:41 AM

        My current favorite is Guayoyo--rather surprised no one has mentioned it. I like the chorizo arepa well enough, but I love, love the cachapa con pernil. Pleasant place for lunch or dinner and you can actually get in.

        -----
        Guayoyo
        67 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

        3 Replies
        1. re: Deb Van D
          m
          michelleats Jun 12, 2011 09:59 PM

          Deb Van D, I'm always on the lookout for good Venezuelan of any sort, so thanks for this tip. Do you by any chance know how Guayoyo compares to Empanada, Caracas or El Cocotero?

          -----
          El Cocotero
          228 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

          Guayoyo
          67 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

          1. re: michelleats
            Deb Van D Jun 13, 2011 06:08 AM

            No, I can only compare it with Caracas Arepa Bar. Both good, but I like the experience, the elbow room, of Guayoyo more. I've eaten both lunch and dinner there and found the food consistent.

            -----
            Caracas Arepa Bar
            93 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

            Guayoyo
            67 1st Ave, New York, NY 10003

            1. re: Deb Van D
              m
              michelleats Jun 13, 2011 01:52 PM

              Thanks, Deb. This is going on my Google Map of places to try.

        2. rteplow May 15, 2011 06:59 AM

          Check the Outer Boroughs board also. There's a lot of talk there about the sainted arepa lady.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rteplow
            m
            Mr Porkchop May 16, 2011 01:56 PM

            Someone also just did a review of Arepa Cafe in Astoria, which is also pretty great. Lots of variety and they serve Polar.

          2. c
            cert1006 May 13, 2011 03:03 PM

            Thanks to everyone for the awsome tips! Can't wait to check some of these places out.

            1. f
              foodiemom10583 May 12, 2011 05:45 PM

              Empanada has delicious arepas. Their Mozzarepas (with some salsa verde) are the perfect accompaniment to copious amounts of beer (or even Diet Coke). The best thing is that if you crave one at 3 a.m., you're not out of luck. They're open 24 hours.

              http://www.empmamanyc.com/

              1. k
                kathryn May 12, 2011 02:28 PM

                Try:

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/189091#5330496
                Cachapas y Mas

                http://cachapasymasnyc.com

                El Cocotero
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/340232

                Coppelia
                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/04/sandwich-a-day-arepa-at-coppelia.html

                Cafe 81
                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2009/03/chicken-salad-arepa-pabellon-crillo-venezuelan-cafe-81-east-village-nyc.html

                Yerba Buena & Yerba Buena Perry
                http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/01/the-brunch-dish-chicken-tinga.html

                El Tequilazo
                http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/el-tequilazo/menu

                Menupages also has a handy find a food search engine:
                http://www.menupages.com/restaurants/...

                -----
                El Cocotero
                228 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                Yerba Buena
                23 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

                El Tequilazo
                43 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                Krystal’s Cafe 81
                81 E 7th St, New York, NY 10003

                Yerba Buena Perry
                1 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014

                Cachapas y Mas
                107 Dyckman St, New York, NY 10040

                Coppelia
                207 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011

                1. m
                  michelleats May 12, 2011 01:15 PM

                  Caracas Arepa Bar has everything your heart desires. I think Empanada Mama also does Venezuelan-style arepas, but as far as I know, they don't have cachapas.

                  -----
                  Caracas Arepa Bar
                  93 1/2 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                  Empanada Mama
                  763 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: michelleats
                    coasts May 12, 2011 05:31 PM

                    i'm a huge fan of Caracas. love it.

                    Empanada Mama is too often very greasy. i used to work nearby and tried it a few times. i won't return.

                    -----
                    Empanada Mama
                    763 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                    1. re: coasts
                      m
                      michelleats May 13, 2011 10:42 AM

                      Oh, too bad! I haven't found the arepas to be overly greasy at Empanada Mama, but probably I have an unhealthily high tolerance or fat and grease and all the other good stuff that kills you early. I do find their arepas to be very filling. One arepa is enough for a meal, for me, unless I'm extraordinarily hungry.

                      -----
                      Empanada Mama
                      763 9th Ave, New York, NY 10019

                      1. re: michelleats
                        f
                        foodiemom10583 May 13, 2011 04:20 PM

                        I also never found them to be too greasy after half a dozen times. I've always found them to be lightly crisped on the outside, sweet and resiliently crumbly on the inside, with the cheese filling presenting a perfect salty/creamy gooeyness. With the astringent green heat of the salsa verde, it's a perfect combination for me.

                      2. re: coasts
                        m
                        michelleats Jun 12, 2011 09:58 PM

                        Coasts, I went with a group of buddies to El Cocotero, tonight, and thought of you: These are arepas you'd like! They are greaseless, without being dry, almost the texture of iddly. I'll try to do a real writeup when I have more energy.

                        -----
                        El Cocotero
                        228 W 18th St, New York, NY 10011

                        1. re: michelleats
                          coasts Jun 13, 2011 04:15 AM

                          just marked it "Wanna Go"! thanks for the thought.

                    2. thew May 12, 2011 01:09 PM

                      caracas arepas on e 7th st

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