A very unfortunate nuisance has occurred: our refrigerator is broken. On Sunday when I was on my way back to the city from a weekend in Saratoga, Kiyo texted me that our fridge didn’t feel very cold. He adjusted the temperature dial a few times but by Monday night it was obviously just not cool at all. So, this week I have eaten all sorts of strange combinations of food to try to get rid of the last perishable items (like quinoa with celery and queso fresco) and I also brought a bunch of odd items to stash in the refrigerator at work (so yes, I’m the weirdo with the heavy whipping cream and frozen peas in the company kitchen). Luckily, Kiyo and I had been lazy about grocery shopping lately, so there really wasn’t that much food in the fridge. On Wednesday night we went to the Yankees vs. Mariner’s game so we ate there, but on Tuesday night we realized we needed to eat someplace convenient after work; so we met right near our Astoria subway stop, at Arepas Cafe.
Kiyo asked me what an arepa is, and to steal from the cafe’s website: arepas are a Venezuelan specialty; corn-based dish (wheat free), highly nutritional meal, split in half and filled with cheese, delicious meats, dressed with toppings. Arepas can be grilled, baked, boiled, fried or steamed, so I tend to think of them as a cross between an empanada (due to the typical fillings and that they can be fried) and a sandwich.
I ordered the Reina: shredded chicken mixed with avocado and mayonnaise. I briefly considered ordering the Bomba, which is the Reina with sliced avocado and cheese, but I’m glad I didn’t since the Reina had plenty of avocado and creamy mayonnaise already. This arepa was a lot mushier than I expected, but the flavor was great. With some of their homemade hot sauce added on, it was perfect.
Kiyo ordered a pork, avocado and cheese arepa, which I stole a bite of; it was also very good. Evidenced in the first picture, we were feeling quite famished and also ordered their fried yuca (my favorite!) and french fries. The creamy green cilantro dressing was addictive! The odd-colored beverage is a homemade lemonade with brown sugar. It was lukewarm even with the ice, I think because it was quite thick. The lemon and brown sugar combination was straightforward and dense. The whole meal, but the lemonade in particular, reminded me of being back home in the Caribbean. Kiyo and I will definitely be back; maybe next for their happy hour, which features $3 wine and beer.
Location: 3307 36th Ave. Astoria, NY 11106 Phone: (718) 937-3835