I walked in with my friend’s words ringing in my ears “I was dazzled by the fancy arepas but wish I had ordered something simpler.” The tiny dining room filled up quickly at 7pm on a weekday, and I couldn’t help snickering as my dining companion squirmed while scantily clad girls practically sat in his lap as they wiggling their way between our tables. The host was polite, but his smile was clearly worn by the constant stream of people seeking arepa asylum; and our server was as effective as the cramped space allowed.
I began with the wine cocktail Tinto de Verano ($6), a refreshing sangria-meets-spritzer start to our meal.
The Guasacaca & Chips ($5.75) while affordable, do not live up to the hype… they are nothing more than commonplace guac and plantain/taro chips.
The Yoyos (fried sweet plantain balls stuffed with white cheese $5) were not as sweet and salty as the plantains and cheese combo lead me to believe. Although they were blander and doughier then I expected, the molasses dipping sauce accompanying them was an unexpected pleasure.
I began with the La Mulata (no picture – I was hungry – cheese with jalapenos, peppers, plantains and black beans $6) which was technically ”good” but failed to impress me. The arepa was cool and tasted borderline stale; the beans were worthless, completely lacking flavor and fell out of the arepa anyways, and the hot hot jalapenos were much too overpowering.
Next out was the La del Gato (guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices $6) which is a pared down improvement of the previous although the plantains we not sweet enough and so fell too far back in the flavor balance.
The final arepa was the unassuming La Guayanesa (Guayanés cheese $6) – yes I had 3 – and was by far my favorite. The juicy salty sweet milky cheese dissolved in my mouth like fresh pulled mozzarella – oozing into the corn crevasse and into my hands and I slowly devour this perfectly balanced cheesy treasure. And so the words ring true, keep it simple at Caracas and you will reap the rewards. I could eat this anytime, anywhere, no matter what, I will always want another La Guayanesa!
Caracas Arepa Bar (East Village)
93 1/2 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009