There are some restaurants at our group that go viral (our unique version of viral – group recommendations leading to lots of physical foot traffic in their doors, leading to more group recommendations, and then more traffic), and deservedly so. And others, you think, it’s their turn, it’s only a matter of time!
I now work from home two days a week, which puts me very close to Arepana Latin Grill. There have been so many wonderful recommendations at the group, that while passing their location the other day, I got quite heavy on the breaks and turned in quickly. I am SO happy I did and I sure hope you take the time to head out there soon as well. You will not be dissapointed.
The second you walk in, you know who the owner is immediately. Whenever there is a strong owner presence in a small restaurant, I always know I’m in for a good time. Like everyone at the group says, he is the nicest guy and so super passionate about what he does. His passion shines in the food.
Since I had never been before, I asked them to please surprise me with their most popular dish, one that represents them best and then a different dish for my husband so we could sample different things. They highly recommended the lunch combo which was $8.50 for an arepa, a side, and a drink. My husband went for a bowl and added on a drink.
The owner was so helpful in going over the menu with us. You start with a base – arepa, bowl, or salad – and then choose either a signature combination of toppings, or build your own. Once you order, it takes about 5 minutes for your food to arrive at your table as everything is made fresh. While we waited, we were served warm, perfectly salted chips with a mild salsa, sipped on our cokes, and admired the colorful restaurant featuring an “I LOVE AREPAS” mural.
I went for the Pabellon signature arepa with shredded beef, black beans, baked plantains, cheese, and roja sauce. Oh my word people!!! I had never had an arepa in my life. My latin friends tell me having a fresh, made to order arepa makes all the difference in the world. Otherwise, they are dry and crumble when held, rather than holding in the toppings. The arepa was soft on the outside, as was expected by the looks of it, but somehow had a surprising hint of a crunch on the inside. And the toppings were outstanding. I enjoyed the sweet bits of plantain mixed within the shredded beef. On the side, I mixed it up a bit trying out a half rice and beans, and half plantains and maduros. It was all fantastic, but the maduros were stand out.
My husband ordered a bowl with build your own toppings including a combination of chicken and beef, black beans, caramelized onions, cheese and slaw. He only shared one bite, but it was enough to verify that it tastes as good as it looks! We also ordered a medley of sauces, just to get the full experience, and let’s just say they’re all drinkable. Yes, after I was done, I may have dipped my spoon in them a time or two. My husband’s favorite was the red pepper sauce and I LOVED the cilantro cream sauce. I dipped everything in it!
Our total bill was just under $20. My husband has quite the appetite and left happily stuffed. I had leftovers that made for a full lunch the next day. Full disclosure, the owner did recognize me and said, “I have to give you this piece of cake from B.Mani’s Sweets and Treats”, a local baker that supplies the desserts for Arepana. He surprised me with the Tres Leches and I’m so happy he did. It was light, fluffy, and fantastic with just a hint of coffee flavor in the frosting. The perfect end to an already super delicious meal!