Arepas are a staple in any Venezuelan or Colombian’s diet, akin to pasta or pizza for an Italian. My “first time” at munching this corn treat was about three years ago after a night out in Barranquilla Carnival in Colombia. I must first pre-warn that this was indeed drunk food, so my memory may be warped by the twelve rum and cokes I drank and, arguably, I would have been satisfied with my typical UK drunk food of chips and gravy.
However, regardless of these factors, my first arepa was literal heaven. Now, this was not some spendy, up-market arepa served with guacamole and salsa picante. I ate a low-key, low-budget corn beef arepa, and it was the best thing since sliced bread. The harmonious marriage of barbecued meat, salty arepa bun, cheese, and sauce literally made this my first experience second-to-none.
A few classics that I sampled during my time in the north of the continent included La Reina Pepeada (Pepiada or Pepiá) which is essentially avocado, shredded chicken, and mayonnaise, all mixed together to create a green mess. This may give off the illusion of being relatively healthy, however, I can vouch that it’s not; I gained about 5 pounds throughout my trip. La Sifrina is the same but with the added addition of bright yellow grated cheese. And my personal favorite, La Pelúa, which is filled to the brim with barbecued shredded beef, seasoned with tomato and salsa, topped up with – you guessed it – yellow grated cheese.
I then returned back to England with the distant memory of arepas with nostalgic fondness. I did once find one with my brother in East London, but it wasn’t quite the same. So, when I moved back across the pond to Buenos Aires, the thought of seeing arepas again in all their greasy beauty was extremely exciting (and a bit of an incentive).
Buenos Aires definitely is home to some great arepa joints. However, you must all be warned that there are all sorts of crappy options. I hope that I won’t get a soiled arepa thrown at my door in a rage, but there are certain restaurants that have become chains in detriment of their ambiance, serving soggy, stodgy, flavor-less corn snacks for double the price than they should be.
I believe that this is a pretty accurate list of the best arepas available in the Capital. So, if you’re Colombian/Venezuelan, a big fan of the cuisine, or simply want to try something other than steak, then give one of these a try.
In no particular order, first on our list is Panachef. It has quite mixed reviews on Facebook and Tripadvisor, but my own personal experience is a good one. They produce the classic arepas from the north of the continent as well as a few originals. They do many different meaty versions, including a chorizo arepa burger which looks like the love-child of an Argentine and a Venezuelan.
David Flores, the chef has worked his way around the country laboring non-stop in various hotels and restaurants before deciding to set up his own restaurant in 2014. Flores originally wanted to just create latino cuisine, but eventually realized his expertise was best focused on Venezuelan grub, from arepas to filled & fried empanadas, to plantain patacones. This place is situated in Recoleta near Agüero, so it may be nice to get out of the Palermo hole, into yet another gentrified barrio (?).
Panachef | Sánchez de Bustamante 1470 – Recoleta | Tuesday-Saturday, 12 PM – 12 AM; Sunday, 12 PM – 7 PM; closed Mondays | Facebook page. |
This is a favorite for a lot of Venezuelans and is based downtown on Florida street underneath a mall in a teeny bar. The food here is incomparable. The arepas are delicious, and according to my arepa expert’s recommendations (my Venezuelan friend) the ones at Guaica bar are his top picks, so you know it has to be good!
It’s a very aesthetic bar, covered in bamboo, with a natural color scheme. Plus, it serves some excellent quality rum so you can really channel your inner Caribbean. Surprisingly, one of their most popular snacks is the vegan arepa with black beans, avocado, and plantain, which I would suggest you scoff down, before buying the next one almost immediately. For their affordable price, you can eat three or so.
Guaica Bar | Florida 537 – Downtown | Monday – Saturday, 12 PM – 7 PM, closed Sundays |Website.
The relatively new bar Mestizos is the new project of Juan Manuel León who is the mastermind behind the former fave pizzeria Monzú. It may not be the most stunning bar to look at, as it is very simple aesthetically and looks a bit like a road-side garage stop. So, maybe don’t take a first date here, but definitely pop in for casual date-night if your partner is into good food with a cheap price tag (who doesn’t?).
The arepas really are excellent, and all of the comments on Facebook (all nine of them, they’re new, remember!) are extremely positive. The favorite among the Argentines is the “mestiza” arepa, which is a kind of mash-up between La Reina Pepeada (the avocado and chicken, for the slackers who have forgotten) and an Argentine asado, as they have added chori and chimichurri sauce. My Venezuelan friend calls it “trashy, but tasty” which I think sums it up pretty well.
Mestizos | Nicaragua 4424 – Palermo | Tuesday – Sunday, 9 AM – 12 AM | Facebook |
Cumaco may be number one on my list, despite its slightly higher prices. Cristóbal Mendoza and Ivamary Lozada set up the restaurant about five months ago, and it’s been a very popular place for both the OG arepa munchers (Venezuelans and Colombians) as well as Argentines. I spoke to Ivamary who told me that what makes them a little different from the other competitors around, is that they don’t just offer food, they also offer the full cultural Venezuelan experience with live music every night, and cultural experiences such as comedy nights and dance sessions.
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¿Qué estás esperando? ???? Las #arepas más ricas están aquí en #Cumaco ?? Si eres fan o todavía no la probaste aprovecha la #promo del #martes y conoce a La Reina ?????❤️ . La favorita de los argentinos, con #palta ? pollo ? y mayo ? o cualquiera de nuestros rellenos #SaborCumaco ?? ¡Te esperamos! ☝?? . . . . . #arepas #arepa #arepavenezolana #buenosaires #argentina #venezolanosenbuenosaires #venezolanosenargentina #venezuelanfood #tasty #promo #increible #domingo
Their food is also excellent: I ate La Rumbera which was pulled pork soaked in red wine which was absolutely delicious. Often, arepas can be a little stodgy and lack flavor, but theirs were so tasty and moist. We also ate the tequeños and roughly 7,000 fried empanadas which were all excellent. It was a little quiet as we went on a weekday, but I can imagine that on the weekend it livens up into quite the party (Shakira was playing for the entirety of our meal, so I have high hopes for their music nights).
Cumaco | Godoy Cruz 1725 – Palermo | Tuesday – Sunday, 12 PM – 2 AM | Website |
Araguaney Bistró is down in Las Cañitas and has been around for just over two years now. This is another foodie haven which offers a very authentic experience with Venezuelan waiters, and with the familiarity and kindness of Venezuelans all around. You can really fall in love with arepas all over again with this place. They create new specials on the daily, so you can rely on them to mix up the menu a little. A favorite is their Mixta Criolla arepa, which is made with scrambled egg, avocado, fried onions, and cheese.
Unlike some of the other places, they produce really delicious desserts as well, so you can wash down your arepas with some more fattening confort sweet food like chocolate cake (how are Venezuelans not all entirely obese?)
Information: Araguaney Bistró | Calle Báez 283 | Palermo Hollywood | Tuesday – Friday 7 PM – 1 AM | Saturday 2 PM – 12 AM.| Sunday 2 PM – 10 PM.|
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Y aquí les presentamos esta hermosura : AREPA MIXTA CRIOLLA, crujiente y suave a la vez arepa 100% de harina pan, rellena con perico (huevo revuelto con tomate y cebolla sofritos), queso blanco venezolano a la plancha y rebanadas de exquisito aguacate (palta). ¿Deliciosa verdad? En "el hogar de la auténtica gastronomía venezolana" celebrando su segundo aniversario.
So if you’re ever again craving a corn snack filled to the brim with the meat of your choice, you know where to get it. Visit any of these four places to eat authentic, original arepas that rival the OG arepas available in Venezuela and Colombia. To be a proper local, you need to eat (at least) two of these arepas, maybe with some empanadas and patacones on the side. ¡Buen provecho!