Right across the street from Porchetta is a Venezuelan arepa bar, called Caracas. I actually had no clue what an arepa was until I set foot in this place. My hosts in New York City were from Venezuela, and they insisted that I try an arepa before I left.
Caracas has both a take-away and a sit down joint, side by side. Our hosts were in a bit of a rush, so we opted for the take-away place. They do have tables at the take-away restaurant, so we quickly ate our food there and went on with our day.
Caracas has 4 locations in New York. One in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn, and one in Queens. I'm not sure what the other locations are like, but the take-away restaurant in Manhattan was a very charming and ecclectic place with a WHOLE lot of energy.
As soon as I walked in, I felt like I had left New York, and stepped into Venezuela. Latin music was blaring, the staff were all speaking Spanish, and the decor and bright colors of the place screamed Latin America!
At each table, was a jar of aji sauce, which we poured onto everything we ate. Aji sauce is a blend of tomatoes, cilantro, and hot peppers. Venezuelan food, surprisingly, is very mild so adding this sauce to our food was a nice addition.
We started by sharing a plate of tequeños, deep fried Venezuelan cheese sticks. This, with a whole lot of aji sauce was awesome!
So what is an arepa you ask? The arepa is a thick cornmeal patty that kind of resembles an English muffin. They are not as fluffy and soft as an English muffin, but chewier and more dense. They are filled with all sorts of fillings and you eat them like a sandwich.
I ordered the La de Pernil arepa. This was filled with roasted pork shoulder, tomato slices, and a spicy mango sauce. As mentioned, Venezuelan food is quite mild so even the spicy mango sauce wasn't all that spicy.
La De Pernil Arepa
J ordered Los Muchachos, an arepa filled with grilled chorizo, spicy white cheese, jalapenos, and sauteed peppers.
Los Muchachos Arepa
F orders the same thing everytime, which is the De Pabellón arepa: shredded beef, black beans, white salty cheese, and sweet plantains.
De Pabellón Arepa
My first Venezuelan experience was definitely a positive one. As mentioned, I was definitely suprised at how mild the dishes were.
93 E 7th Street
New York, New York