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One of the great things about New York is the availability of good food from anywhere just a subway ride away. In this case, the good food is an arepa, and the subway ride away is the East Village. An arepa, for those unfamiliar with Venezuelan/Colombian street food, is basically a pita sandwich, except that the pita pocket is made out of cornmeal. Then you fry it or bake it and stuff it with a vast quantity of options, all of them delicious.

Caracas Arepa Bar, a micro mini chain with three locations (The East Village, Williamsburg, and the Rockaways) was where I headed on a few occasions recently. I figured that if one arepa was good, two would be gooder. And three would be gooderer. And so on. With its raw brick, floral wallpaper, and vintage photographs of old people from the old country, one can imagine that they're eating in a dusty South American cantina killing time while waiting for the next bus between villages. Of course, turn your head and take a gander at the artsy types in cashmere sweaters and the fantasy is killed. So I made sure to sit in the corner facing the wall.
I tried a number of dishes over the visits. If it's available when you're there, ask for a bowl of the Lentil Soup. It will blow your calcetines off. Unlike many lentil soups that I've had in the past that were practically a stew, this is more broth heavy. I have a hard time believing that is was vegetarian as the broth tasted very chickeny, but if it was a vegetarian soup, then I say good job. So much flavor. The Guasacaca & Chips (guacamole and chips) I could have done without. The chips were very heavy plantain chips, not corn chips, and the guacamole was only meh. Plaintain chips are a taste I can't fully get into. This is probably because if someone offers me a banana, I'd ask them if they have an apple.

Pictured below is the De Pollo arepa, chicken, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onion. Fantastic. Stop reading my blog and go eat this right now. The La De Pernil, roast pork shoulder, tomato, and a spicy mango sauce was next on the list. Also very good, but not very spicy. The De Pabillon was fantastic. I could eat these all day. Filling what is effectively a big fat corn taco with shredded beef, black beans, white cheese, and sweet plantains might make this the least healthy thing I ate from the menu, but it was good. The Los Muchachos, an arepa of grilled chorizo, spicy white cheese, jalapenos, and sautéed pepper was the least enjoyable of the lot. It was spicy, but the chorizo was bland and over-dry. The arepa pocket isn't the most moist types of bread and therefore, really needs a moist, tender filling. In the words of Detective Boyle from Brooklyn 99, it didn't have the proper "mouth feel" and in the end, I felt indifferent about it. Sucks. I love chorizo.

There are vegetarian arepas, but I couldn't bring myself to order one when pork was available.

A word of warning. If you are like me and like your spicy food spicy enough to strip the rust from the underside of a '68 Mustang, then do not ask for "extra hot sauce on the side." I did this and they gave me some yellow concoction that teared my eyes, numbed my tongue, and caused my nose to drip. Naturally, I loved it and bathed my arepas in it. But you probably won't be so thrilled.

The average arepa will set you back $8 and they're only about five inches in diameter, so my advice is to order two. You'll leave satisfied without being stuffed.

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