Monday, October 18, 2010

Urban Eats @ Arepa Cafe, Toronto

We love finding cheap and delicious eats in the city.  Arepa Cafe on Queen West fits the bill with over 20 different types of arepas on their menu for under ten bucks.  So what the heck is an arepa?  It's like a cornmeal bread sandwich that is grilled and stuffed with all things delicious, which is very popular in Venezuela and Colombia.  The owners are Venezuelan and bring a vision of 'Venezuelan Urbanity' to their style and brand.  Now, I have never met a sandwich in any culture that I didn't like.  Here's a pic of the Reina Pepiada - The Curvy Queen ($7.50) with chicken, avocado, red onion and coriander.  Our server mentioned it was the most popular item on the menu, so we had to try it for ourselves. 
The grilled arepa leaves you warm and fuzzy and kind of reminds us of an English muffin, except with corn.  The sandwich may look small, but it is incredibly filling.  The avocado does overpower the sandwich, but all in all - it's pretty fresh tasting and we liked the little coleslaw on the side too.

The wall of cornmeal (left), the very hip and sleek looking interior (right).  The exposed brick wall and modern furniture is very welcoming and warm.  The bright yellow counter offers take-away and the cafe offers very friendly table service.
The Tequenos ($5.50, above) were a hit and we devoured each cheese-filled pastry in one chewy, gooey breath.  Picture a mozzarella stick but with a bread-like crust and guacamole for dipping.  Yeah, it's like heaven.
The Llanera ($9.00, above) was actually a superior sandwich to the chicken avocado one I had.  When I return, this would be my pick for sure.  The arepa is stuffed with beef tenderloin, avocado, fresco cheese and a tomato which made for a fantastic combo.
Make sure you finish your visit off with an Alfajor ($2.00, above) which is a heart-melting dulce de leche cookie sandwich topped with powdered sugar.  For under $10 and using fresh ingredients, Arepa Cafe is a hip + urban girl pick for a great cheap eat.  Bonus: the sandwiches are gluten-free.

Arepa Cafe
490 Queen Street West, Toronto
So what do you think of Arepa Cafe?  Do you have a hip + urban girl cheap eats suggestion?
Arepa Cafe on Urbanspoon

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