Isis Arrieta-Dennis, owner of The Arepa Place, refers to her restaurant’s signature dish as “the Colombian version of a grilled cheese.” It’s a good description for the street food favorite served in many Latin American countries. (Arrieta-Dennis made them for family and friends at parties and other gatherings before she decided to open her business.) The cornmeal-based bread—split like a pita and stuffed with black beans, cheese, and a protein of your choice (chicken, steak, chorizo)—is definitely good comfort food if we’ve ever seen it. Not sure which one you want? Try the Great Arepa. With steak, chicken, chorizo, black beans, and cheese, it has nearly every ingredient on the menu, including just-this-side-of-sweet fried plantains. The sandwich is a two hander—a savory mix of meat and cheese with pops of the plantains’ sweet flavor—but easy to chomp on while you’re perusing the stalls at Findlay Market on a Saturday afternoon.
Those abstaining from meat aren’t left out of the mix. You can snag a veggie arepa with just black beans, cheese, and plantains, if that’s more to your liking. If breakfast is more your speed, the Arepa De Huevo (the deep fried version with egg and ground beef) or the scrambled egg and cheese arepa with green onion and tomato are the way to go. Don’t forget to wash it all down with an Aguapanela, sugarcane water with lemon (a Colombian lemonade of sorts), or any number of a rotating roster of Latin American sodas. No true foodie will regret a quick trip through this South American foodscape.
The Arepa Place, 131 W. Elder St., Over-the-Rhine, (513) 744-9500