El Arepazo Latin Grill
Location and Contact Info
|Address||47 N Pearl St|
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Intensely Flavorful In the Alley
El Arepazo has created a bit of a buzz over the years for delivering a wonderful dining experience right in the heart of Pearly Alley. I had read some great reviews on the place, and at lunch today I was not disappointed.
First of all, the place has character. There is an outdoor patio that seats just a handful of tables, but it's a good view and nice place if it's not too hot.
To enter the restaurant, they ask you to walk down a long dark hall, which visually is not the best intro to the place. The end of the hall puts you into the back of restaurant, in front of an order counter, and the kitchen.
The dining room is not huge, and that is what the long entrance is all about. El Arepazo can get so crowded at lunch, with people ordering to go dishes to eat at their desks, that they needed a way to separate the take-with crowd from the eat-in diners.
I have been to Venezuela twice, and frankly never thought much of their food. My son just went to Colombia, and he loved the food. But I really didn't know what to expect. I asked the pretty lady behingd the cash register what was their best dish, and she recommended the Pabellón Crillo (Venezuelan Platter), comprised of shredded beef, rice, black beans, fried plantains & arepita. Arepita is a small fried corn meal pancake. It's a good choice, among many.
The shredded beef was really excellent. Lots of flavor, succulent, a little salty, but a real winner in the flavor category. I put a little of their famous spicy cilantro sauce (highly recommended), and it was even more intensely flavorful. Absolutely delicious.
I mixed my beans and rice and they too were well seasoned. The arepita didn't do much for me, but the real surprise was how good their plantains were. I have eaten plenty of plantains, and again never thought much of them. These were like a dessert, like lychee bananas, crispy, caramelized, soft but firm, and just outrageously wonderful.
I was pleasantly surprised at how popular El Arepazo was, how crowded it became at lunch, but now I know why. The food is great, good location, friendly staff, not too pricey, and a nice little refuge from the office.
If you are not already in downtown, make the trip anyway, this place is that good. You can park on the street fairly easily for about a buck in quarters. Worth the effort for a flavor-packed bargain lunch.
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