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Guinea Pig Cones & Honeydew Soda? Welcome the Newest Street Food Truck, Hola Arepa!


Driving down the street yesterday I noticed a gorgeous new turquoise food truck, Hola Arepa. So of course I followed it and grabbed the phone number off the side. Turns out Hola Arepa will in fact specialize in arepas, those hand-pattied cornmeal cakes so popular in Central and South America. And it gets a lot more interesting after that.

The truck is owned jointly by Bradstreet Craftshouse bartender Birk Stefan Grudem and his girlfriend Christina Nguyen, the local fashion visionary behind the Design Collective on 26th and Hennepin in Uptown Minneapolis.

Hola Arepa’s last health department inspections are scheduled for early this week, so if all goes well they hope to open for business Thursday or Friday on Marquette Ave. near the IDS in downtown Minneapolis. They plan to be downtown Monday through Friday for lunch, and at the Uptown Market (the one on 29th street next to the Greenway) on Sundays. Grudem also told me he has some plans to sell food in Cedar Riverside sometimes. What food will they sell?

Venzuelan-style arepas, of course, especially ones filled with pulled pork and a sort of chicken salad made with avocado and spice. Hola Arepa will have all sorts of chip-and-dip options, including four different house salsas, sides like fried yuca and plantain chips, and made-to-order guacamole. Once the truck is up and running for a bit they plan to start serving some culinarily adventurous dishes, like confit of cuy. (Cuy is known hereabouts as guinea pig, but is a culinary standard in Central America and the Andes; It tastes a lot like rabbit, and cooking it confit seems like a genius idea to this critic.) Grudem says he’s been working on a way to deep-fry tortillas in such a way that they form a cone, and that he will serve the cone with small portions of the truck’s various meats on offer—which means that it’s possible that the summer of 2011 will see something totally new under the sun: People feasting on guinea pig cones in the IDS.

Of course, hearing about Grudem’s Bradstreet background I immediately asked about the beverage plans for the truck. He told me they’ll open with some different lemonades, such as cucumber mint lemonade or limeade and ginger lemonade, and once they get rolling he’ll debut some of his more ambitious house-made sodas like honeydew-chamomile.

Yes, I’m serious. You know what this means? You may now be able to recreate the famous opening scene of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, where she’s eating lunch in the IDS and looking down on the Crystal Court—but you can do this sipping honeydew-chamomile soda and cuy cones!

It’s a surprising, surprising world people. And the newest surprise is set to open this week. Follow them on Twitter.

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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.

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