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William Neuheisel
If you’ve passed by one of the many arepa carts in downtown Miami and wondered what they’re peddling, you’ve been missing out on a delicious Latin treat -- the arepa. Did you know that this street version of the delicacy is just the tip of an iceberg? The arepa, widely known in Latin America, is as versatile as the omelet is to Americans or the crepe is to the French.

What is an Arepa?

Basically, an arepa is a bread patty that is baked, filled with one or more fillings, and then cooked. The bread itself may be either corn- or flour-based and it often resembles an English muffin.

When preparing an arepa, the cook first prepares the dough and then either grills, fries or bakes the arepa. When it is ready, the arepa is sliced and filled with cheese, eggs, meat, vegetables, or whatever other ingredients the creativity of the cook allow. Typically, the arepa is not sliced all the way through, but is filled in a “pocket” fashion.

Where are Arepas Sold?

You can easily find arepas on the streets of Miami, but you won’t find much variety. This is essentially the fast food version of the arepa -- a cornmeal patty, sliced and filled with cheese, then kept warm on a griddle until it is ready to be served. They’re good and cheap, but anyone who thinks that is the extent of the arepa is missing an entire world of possibilities. If you’d like to expand your arepa horizons, here are a few ideas:
  • Don Toston and Dona Arepa, at 8349 West Flagler Street, has a wide variety of arepas on the menu, and it’s their speciality!
  • La Moon Restaurant, at 97 SW 8th Street, has arepas on the menu. You can choose from cheese, steak, chicken, smoked sausage and bacon for your fillings.
  • European Corner at 5889 SW 73rd Street stocks arepas along with other Venezuelan specialties.
  • Local Whole Foods supermarkets carry good quality arepas that you may prepare at home.
  • Finally, if you’re feeling a little adventurous, it’s not that hard to prepare your own arepas.
Whether you’re trying your first arepa, honing your taste for a familiar favorite or embarking on the culinary adventure of preparing your own arepas for the first time, you’re in for a treat!
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