Edit ModuleShow Tags

Holy Arepa! Two Awesome Suburban Arepa Spots

Venezuelan immigrants bring their home food to the Twin Cities


Photo By Jason DeRusha

I'll never forget my first time. Having an arepa. Birk and Christina were operating their food truck along Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, and there was just something magical about that creamy and crispy cornmeal pancake/tortilla/pita combination. Christina is one of the most talented chefs we have in town, making lively and creative fillings bursting with flavor. But she's always told me that she was inspired by very common Venezuelan food, and the fillings she creates are not designed to authentically represent that culture.

As it turns out, some Venezuelans who recently moved to Minnesota agreed. Two families, both fairly new to town, have opened arepa restaurants, and both are authentic and excellent.

Teque Arepa is in an Eden Prairie strip mall. Odds are good you'll see Erwin Chacón and his wife, Liddamir, in the store when you visit. They moved here in 2012 and opened in Eden Prairie the winter of 2013. I loved the Pabellón arepa. It has black beans, shredded beef, white cheese, and slices of sweet plantains. The mix of savory and sweet, the variety and depth of textures and flavors were spot on.

The arepa itself was nicely griddled, and this sandwich is simply huge. I had it with a side of fried yucca, with an incredible green garlic sauce, and my whole meal was about $10. The menu here is huge, and they'll mix and match any ingredients you want. Getting an independent restaurant in Eden Prairie is a rare treat, and the Chacón​s deserve your support!

Arepa Bite in Mounds View looks so polished and slick inside, I asked at the counter if it was a national chain. It's not! Vannessa Fazio and her husband, Felix Perez, opened the restaurant right off of Highway 10 in Mounds View in a repurposed fast food joint. Fazio and Perez moved to Mounds View directly from Venezuela in early 2015 and opened Arepa Bite in 2016. It's slightly different than Teque Arepa in that a lot of the menu uses a Chipotle-style approach, with precooked fillings ready to be assembled. I ordered the Rumbera ($6.27) with thick, juicy slices of pork tenderloin topped with an enormous mound of cheddar cheese.

I added a side of crispy yuca and a drink and had a meal for under $10. Arepa Bite has a delicious drink called a Papelón, which is made of sugarcane juice and lemon juice—sweet but not sugary, if that makes sense. Very refreshing, and perfect to cut the heaviness of the pork.

It's exciting to see these two Venezuelan families building success and doing it in the suburbs. Both places had extremely kind and welcoming service. Great news for suburbanites who are desperate for something different. Get those arepas!

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Pineapple in Every Bite Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Enjoy this twist on the classic cake with chunks of sweet, juicy pineapple maximizing the fruit-to-cake ratio in every taste

3 Drinks to Give Winter the Kiss-Off

West Seventh in St. Paul is bursting with drink options to usher in spring (which is just around the corner, right?)

Minnesota-Grown Greens Now Available Year Round

New locally and sustainably produced Revol Greens makes eating clean and green throughout the year even easier

What to Buy for the Perfect Minnesota Home Bar

From vodka, gin, bourbon, rum, and beyond: Minnesota spirit-makers recommend the best home-bar companions

Quick Moroccan Chicken over Couscous Recipe

Enjoy the exotic flavors of a long-simmered tagine in this easy version that’s quick enough for a weeknight

No-Fail Caramel Corn Recipe

Celebrate National Caramel Corn Day with this sweet crunchy treat—no special equipment needed with this easy recipe

Best Restaurant Bargains Before A Target Field Minnesota Twins Game

They're offering baseball specials, but do you know where to go? Check out these good deals on food before Twins games.

3 Things to Eat This Week: April 4-8

Tropical cake, drinkable flowers, and some mouth-searing spice

Edina Bistro Celebrates National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day

Pinstripes offers a sophisticated twist on the childhood favorite with a five-course meal for two in honor of PB&J Day (April 2)
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags