Arepa! Melt-In-Your-Mouth Corn Meal Bread and “Venezuelan Urbanity”

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You know you’ve completely fallen in love with a place and its food when you’re thinking about what you want to stick your face in the next time you’re there barely a second after you leave.  This is how I feel about the Arepa Café, and I am so super excited to share my scrapbook layout and pictures with you guys!  I’ve been chewing on layout ideas since I ate here in October and this wonderful eatery inspires me so much, with its decor and its good eats.  Not to mention the food is delicious to boot!  Located at 490 Queen Street West, it fits right into the ultra chic, quirky, kitschy strip that is Toronto’s West Queen West neighbourhood. 

As weird as this sounds, for the longest time I would stroll along Queen W. from Yonge to Spadina, but never any further west.  As soon as I would hit Spadina, I would double back and head back east.  Over 2 years ago though, I was in themood in to explore in a major way and thought, “what the heck, let’s keep walking!” and oh.my.god.  I discovered stores upon stores upon stores of jewelry supplies, fabric, art, and fashion and I was literally in conniptions because I was so excited.  Inspiration overload!  West Queen West has its own feel, it’s own charm about it.  It’s hip, inspiring, and uniquely indie.  And this extends into the many cafés and eateries in this hub.

The Arepa Café is known for its “Venezuelan Urbanity”: its modern interpretation of traditional Venezuelan and Columbian dishes and cuisine.  Case in point: arepa sandwiches!  Arepas are round, flat, pancake-like breads made of corn meal, traditionally used to sandwich anything from meats, cheeses, beans, and vegetables.  The corn meal dough is traditionally made from ground corn and/or corn flour, water, and seasoning and either grilled, baked, or fried.  So imagine for a moment, an English muffin.  An arepa is like an English muffin in size and shape.  However, they differ in taste and texture.  While an English muffin is chewy, an arepa is super moist and literally MELTS in your mouth.  You can taste and feel the buttery corn meal melt on your tongue and it is oh-so-amazingly good.  It’s a mouthful of utter scrumptiousness *prances around the room*.

There are tons of choices on their menu and it’s really hard to just choose one; I want to eat everything!  Each arepa sandwich on the menu has a description of what’s inside, and they have both meat and vegetarian options along with a list of extra ingredients you can add for a small additional charge.  And, their arepas are gluten-free!  They come with a little side of coleslaw and the waiter or waitress will bring you several different sauces to go with it.  I had 3 sauces brought over with my order: a “beware-this-is-really-hot” hot sauce, a mayo, and a delicious sauce that was a cross between pesto and coriander chutney.  My mouth is watering just thinking back, holy schmoly.  I ordered the La Llanera (pictured below): savoury, smoky grilled beef tenderloin, fresco cheese (a creamy, soft, mild white cheese), tomato, and avocado.  My tummy is doing cartwheels and making growly noises.  I cannot sing enough praises about how immensely good the food is, oh my lordy.

I haven’t tried their desserts yet, but they have plenty of appetizers and snacks on their menu too, along with a selection of pepito sandwiches made with crusty Vietnamese bread, and plenty of coffees and drinks.  The hot chocolate, which my sweetie Richard ordered, is cream of the crop.  Made with dark chocolate, it is GOOD stuff, and you add your own sugar to it so you control the level of sweetness you want in it.  Meals will run you around an average of $10-$12 and it is well worth it to me.  You can taste the quality in your food; it’s the kind of thing that you inhale because it’s so good.  The decor is very cool with the exposed brick on the walls and it’s a fabulous café to enjoy some snacks and drinks with a friend.  In the heart of the quirky, kitschiness that is West Queen West, it is pure awesomeness 😀  And yes, I already have a list of what I want to eat the next time I go.  And the time after that.  It’s their menu.

*****

The Arepa Café is located at 490 Queen St.W, in between Augusta Ave. and Bathurst St., just west of Augusta.

Scrapbooking materials used: white, goldenrod, and moss green cardstock (Recollections); black cardstock; felt tip black pen (Sharpie); silver alphabet stickers (Sticko); corner rounder paper punch (ek success).  If any of you are wondering where I got the inspiration for using the bright yellow squares/grid in the layout, I took my cue from the latest Pizza Pizza takeout box.  If you’ve ordered pizza from them recently, you’ll connect the dots.  Yup, inspiration from a pizza box! 😀

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