In the last year and a half arepas have exploded onto the Montreal food scene. For those still in the dark, an arepa is a flat bread made out of ground corn flour that is then stuffed with a variety of meats, fish, veggies, and cheese to make a delicious (and gluten free) sandwich. The arepa is very popular in Colombia and Venezuela, and can fortunately be found in several places in Montreal. Branching off from my go-to arepa spot, Bocadillo, today I tasted the arepa offerings of Arepera.
Arepera is located in the Plateau, specifically the corner of De Bullion and Duluth. The restaurant itself is somewhat small, but that really only adds to the cute and quaint vibe Arepera gives off. Unlike Bocadillo, Arepera is much more of a sit down meal, with waiters and a full menu that has options for meat lovers and vegans alike.
Yuca, otherwise known as cassava, has been an integral aspect of my past arepa experiences, being boiled then fried into a French Fry-like format, only better. I was slightly disappointed to learn that Arepera does not serve fried yuca fries. Instead they have yuca chips. As a substitute, my waitress suggested the fried plantains. I wasn't too impressed with the yuca chips (they kinda just tasted like normal kettle chips) but the fried plantains topped with white cheese were sweet, salty, and deliciously tender.
But the arepas are the real stars of Arepera's menu, as they should be. Tons of options are available and the menu is divided into meat, fish, vegetarian and 'ultra' vegetarian arepas, along with some platters and breakfast dishes. Plus they give you full bottles of delicious avocado sauce, in regular and spicy varieties, for your dining pleasure. Going for the most interesting thing I could find, I ordered the boar chorizo arepa while my dining partner tried out the shredded chicken cooked in a tomato sauce.
The boar chorizo was a solid choice. Cut into smaller chunks, the sausage was very manageable to eat in sandwich form and was perfectly paired with the sauteed onions and green peppers also stuffed into the arepa. I do have to say that the arepa buns at Arepera are superior to their Bocadillo counterpart. A little more crisp and thin, without losing the crucial doughy softness needed for a sandwich, Arepera has some hot Venezuelan buns.
Unfortunatly, the shredded chicken arepa was not on par with the boar chorizo. It could have been personal tastes, or just a menu misunderstanding, but the chicken wasn't as saucy or spicy as I hoped it would be. Also the cheese on top was cold, whereas the meat was hot, and a strange medium was the result. The arepa wasn't terrible, it just wasn't what I expected, nor was it as tasty as the boar chorizo.
To go along with my meal I ordered a sweet and tangy fresh tamarind juice. Arepera regularly offers a long list of freshly squeezed exotic fruit juices, so if you don't know what tamarind is don't fret. They serve mango and guava too, and I am sure they are equally as delicious.
Every meal needs a dessert finish, and Arepera did not disappoint with its sweet selections. More than a few options are available for dessert lovers, such as chocolate mousse and flan, the latter being my choice. I'm kind of a dessert snob, but I was impressed with Arepera's fantastic flan. It lacked that gross, egg-y flavour that besets lower quality flan and was just the right amount of sweet.
Over all I did enjoy my Arepera experience. The service was fast and friendly and I enjoyed nearly everything I ate. I wouldn't say that Arepera officially trumps Bocadillo, but for those looking for a more relaxed arepa experience with a larger menu to choose from, I would totally recommend hitting up Arepera.