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Viva Las Arepas

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For all of the closings that have befallen the Las Vegas restaurant scene during the economic struggles of the past few years, Viva Las Arepas is a good news story, and one that is now getting better. What started as a cart in the parking lot of Dino’s on Las Vegas Boulevard South, has now expanded into a sit-down restaurant just a block up the strip (1600 block of Las Vegas Blvd South). It is a tribute to the quality of their product to make such an impression on the marketplace, and in truth it is a major bonus for the consumer – not only does eating standing up in the blazing sun go out of play, but because of they way they stuff their namesake product they did not travel all that well for home consumption. The restaurant features both tables and booths, after your order at the counter.

The Arepas are still the star of the show – overstuffed corn cakes that bring back fond memories for those of us that got to spend time exploring the culinary wonders of Venezuela. They are a fantastic value for the price points, and include about 33% more of the main ingredients than we remember from the streets of Caracas (Pernil and Black Beans & Cheese in the photos). But now a full-scale kitchen also means wood-grilled chicken as well, also at terrific price points (a whole chicken will only set you back $10.99). And a half rack of ribs with two sides goes for $8.99. And for as well balanced as the Arepas are, you can also dress up each bite with either a vibrant home-made hot sauce, or their garlic mayo (squeeze bottles of each on the table).

There is a lot of pride being put into this food, and it is nice to see the local restaurant tide coming in for a change, after so many others were swept away.

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  1. Good news, indeed! And nice people, too.

    1. Viva Las Arepas now participates in restaurant.com.

      1. I just received a notification that Viva Arepas no longer participates in restaurant.com.

        1. Worth mentioning that they also have a food truck. It's very regularly been at the downtown farmers market on Friday. I think I've heard that it's also at the Thursday Springs Reserve. Serves four or five choices of arepas.

          1 Reply
          1. re: billch

            Thanks for this -- the last time I was at the market, they weren't there.

          2. I've gone there twice in the past couple of days, and haven't gotten past the wood-grilled beef arepas -- they're outstanding. Both the garlic sauce and hot sauce are excellent complements -- the hot sauce is pretty hot but has great chile flavor as well. As mentioned above, they don't travel well. Although they reheated OK, they're much better when eaten right there. I want to go back and work through the menu.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Steve Green

              Steve, have you tried the cachapas? Also, I recommend the soup when they have it, although the portion is huge. The soup and a plain arepa would be a good lunch.

              1. re: Steve Green

                Thank you (and Chowhound in general) for the heads-up on this place.
                We ate here last week and it was delicious. I just wish it was closer to my house in San Diego. The plantains were perfect, the arepas (beef, chicken, pork and ham & cheese) tasty, and the people behind the counter very nice. Loved the squeeze hot sauce, too.

                Actually the whole trip (Border Grill brunch, the arepas, Mon Ami Gabi, Rx Boiler Room, Sweets Raku, hot chocolates at Brenner's and dinner at Jaleo) was delicious.
                Not really a bad experience in the bunch.

              2. Thanks to this and other posts here about VLA, we tried it out last weekend on our trip to Vegas. The first visit was stellar - the garlic shrimp arepa, fried yucca and wood-grilled chicken (OMG. WOW!) were delicious and perfect. We were rung up by the owner, who was very nice. The second visit (to pick up takeout) was not quite so great. The chicken didn't taste as amazing as the first time and the pork arepa was absolutely awful - so salty that it was completely inedible. Not sure what happened, and it COULD be that the stuff just doesn't travel well as has been suggested. I'm just glad we had such a good initial experience or I would never have given it another chance based on that second meal. Feh.

                So, I will recommend the place to my friends, but I will encourage them to eat in rather than getting it to go! :-)

                We're still dreaming of that first chicken we tried. We've eaten a lot of grilled/rotisserie type chickens and this was hands down the very best we've ever had. EVER. (The second one wasn't BAD, but it wasn't as good as the first!)

                2 Replies
                1. re: saturngrrl

                  Gee, for takeout, I would have been worried about the texture of the arepa itself, and not the filling, which, for the pork, shouldn't deteriorate at all. If you got a bad batch, it's definitely a freak experience. Although VLA might look like a fast food place, the pride that Felix puts into his food is worthy of any fine-dining experience. I'm sure that Felix would have appreciated hearing about the problem, and he would have made it right.

                  Grilled meats a little more problematic as take-out. I have at least two friends who order it often, but I've only eaten it inside.

                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    Yeah, I just chalked it up as "one of those things" and moved on. No sense getting worked up about it. I was disappointed, but not mad. And according to my SO, who picked up the food, Felix wasn't there that day. It's all good. I still dig the place and will still recommend it! (I'll just encourage eating in!) :-)