I am Colombian but my mother spent most of her adult life in Venezuela. She immigrated to the United States with both cultures ingrained in her. Growing up, I had variations of Colombian and Venezuelan cuisine in my household.
My all time favorite dish ever is Arepas. They are thick corn patties packed with fillings, such as carne asada and cheese, or platanos and pernil.
Arepas are a staple in Colombian and Venezuelan households; from poor people to rich people. Both countries claim to have originated the dish in pre-Columbian times.
Luckily, New York has the best of the best when it comes to Latinx food. This is due to the rich culture and the enormous population of Latinos in the city. And I’m about to put you on to the best arepas in Brooklyn.
Sabor de Venezuela
Arepera Guacuco is located at 44 Irving Avenue at Troutman Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It is a Venezuelan family-run restaurant started by Leonardo Molina and his mother. ‘Guacuco’ comes from the name of a beach in Venezuela where Molina was born.
While Molina runs the business end of the restaurant, his mother is on the grill. From making the arepas to seasoning the pernil, familial lines run through this establishment.
It is a no-frills spot that packs the punch of flavor you’ve been missing out on. Arepera Guacuco offers a full menu of authentic Venezuelan food and a full wine, beer, and cocktail menu.
We are starting with appetizers because you can’t skip appetizers. The first appy you NEED to get are the ‘Tequenos.’
Tequenos are Venezuelan style cheese sticks wrapped in wheat flour, served with a variety of dipping sauces. They start at nine dollars and you’ll be addicted by the time it melts in your mouth.
We have these on special occasions like Christmas Eve or New Years Eve in my family. They are essential!
Another delicious starter you have to try is the tajadas. The dish consists of sweet plantains with aged cheese to top them off. This dish is five dollars and fifty cents and it’s a steal.
Tajadas are a staple in my home. I cook them frequently! You can get them at a Spanish Market, there are tons in New York. Make sure to wait till they plantain is almost fully black to fry up, so you can get that gooey texture and sweet flavor.
An Arepa a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Now let’s move onto the main attraction: the arepas. My personal favorite is ‘The Pabellon.’ It consists of an arepa loaded with shredded beef, white salty cheese, sweet plantains, and beans. It is nine dollars and fifty cents.
The flavors meld together in your mouth and give you the warm fuzzy feeling you get when food holds memories. Arepas always take me back to my childhood when all the women in my family would cram into my aunt’s kitchen to cook them.
Secondly, there is the classic ‘Pernil’ arepa. It is juicy pulled pork shoulder with spices on a bed of shredded cheddar cheese. Um, yum?
The pernil arepa is nine dollars, a great price for a main dish. Pernil is a classic dish in Latinx households, and it is such a treat to get such authentic dishes in Brooklyn.
I also suggest the cousin of the arepa: the empanada. An empanada is a type of baked or fried turnover consisting of pastry and filling, usually a savory dish.
I recommend the ‘Pollo Empanada’ which is shredded chicken, spices, and vegetables. The empanadas start at five dollars and they’re rather large, you really only need one.
Pick Up or Sit Down
By now, I’m dead sure I have convinced you to visit Arepera Guacuco. Currently, you can pick up in addition to the option of eating at a socially distant curbside table.
Take the L train (yikes) or the bus to Bushwick and have yourself the best Venezuelan food.