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Arepas Cafe review

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At the risk of blowing the cover on one of my favorite under-the-radarish restaurants in the city, I offer this review of Arepas Cafe (which I was surprised to find has received not much attention on the Outer Boroughs board thus far).

I fell for the place immediately when I stumbled in soon after moving to Astoria a few years back. The cozy, homey atmosphere and carefully made food and drinks -- with no corner-cutting or skimping on quality -- won me over immediately.

As a vegetarian, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are tons of good options (my favorite is the Guyanese Tropical -- fried sweet plantains, avocado and mild Guyanese cheese) -- which is not always true of restaurants serving S. American cuisines.

My meat-eating friends swear by the pernil, pabellon and baby shark arepas. The latter pays homage to the owner's hometown, Carupano, a small city on Venezuela's northeastern coast where seafood-stuffed arepas are popular. (Full details of my most recent meal at Arepas Cafe are at http://www.cityspoonful.com/arepas-cafe/).

I didn't trust myself to know authentic Venezuelan food from inferior alternatives, so I dragged along a friend who grew up spending summers in Maracaibo (Venezuela), who confirmed that both the food and the general vibe at Arepas Cafe are "very Venezuelan."

Go for brunch: The cafe con leche is smooth and creamy, and the new brunch menu offers several platters of Venezuelan breakfast specialties (though I always stick to the arepas, which hit the spot in the morning -- a good blend of carb, protein/fats, and piquant flavors to start the day).

Or stop by on a hot summer evening and have a pitcher of "Sangria" (ample rum with sweet fruit juices -- very stiff stuff!) with a few arepas and some small bites (e.g., tequenos, mini cachapas and other fried goodness...).

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Arepas Cafe
33-07 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

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  1. I'm a big fan of Arepas Cafe as well. I too enjoy the Guyanesa Tropical -- awesome combination of ingredients. I also really like the Reina (basically a chicken salad arepa with avocado). YUM! I have a rather lazy friend who lives in Brooklyn, but I never have a hard time convincing him to visit me in Astoria if I just suggest a stop at Arepas Cafe :)

    I'm glad that you reviewed it, because as far as I can see, places these days can't get enough good press. I contributed to a thread a couple of years ago on favorite Astoria spots. Looking back on it now, about half of my favorites are now closed. It's not enough that a place serves great food. It needs consistent business. I was disappointed to see that one of my favored spots, Malagueta, was near empty last Friday night. Hopefully they filled up later in the evening. Times are tight, but businesses serving consistently excellent food deserve our loyalty.

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    Arepas Cafe
    33-07 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

    Malagueta
    25-35 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

    1 Reply
    1. re: queenseats

      Queenseats, it's amazing how fast restaurants come and go these days, you're right. Arepas Cafe seems to be doing well -- they just expanded into the small space next door in order to accomodate the big crowds they're drawing. :) But these things can never be taken for granted.

      Surprised to hear Malagueta may be struggling to draw customers. I know it's one of the go-to Brasilian places in Astoria. Just a few weeks ago I was evesdropping on the subway as a Brasilian woman raved to her American colleague about the authenticity and general awesomeness of Malagueta... :)

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      Arepas Cafe
      33-07 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106

      Malagueta
      25-35 36th Ave, Queens, NY 11106