Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team
An arepa is a thick, grilled cornmeal cake (or a sandwich made from one) that originated in pre-Columbian times in Colombia and Venezuela, similar to the Mexican gordita or the Salvadoran pupusa. Today arepas are an everyday favorite and a source of national pride in both Colombia and Venezuela. According to an official report from the Colombian Academy of Gastronomy:
Hola Arepa is not the only place to get arepas in Minneapolis, but it’s a clear favorite of both customers and critics. Chef Christina Nguyen (who also started Southeast Asian restaurant Hai Hai) and her partner Birk Grudem launched it as a food truck that quickly attracted long lines. When this colorful restaurant, which offers outdoor seating and a full bar, opened in 2014, it made Bon Appétit Magazine’s list of the top 50 new restaurants in the US.
Hola Arepa offers arepas with traditional fillings including slow-cooked beef, pork, and chicken, black beans, fried plantains, and cotija cheese (crumbly cheese similar to feta). But they also offer some creative takes on the classics, including the “Cuban” (an arepa version of the popular Cuban sandwich) and veggie options including black bean with sweet potato and mushroom with rajas (slices of poblano chili). All are served with either the house “aioli verde” or chimichurri (a sauce made with parsley and garlic) as well as yucca fries.
This is a popular place for happy hour and weekend brunches as well as dinner. They offer specialty cocktails and mocktails as well as wine, beer, and spirits including an impressive assortment of rums and tequilas. For happy hour they also offer sangria, tepache (a Mexican fermented drink made from pineapples,) and small dishes including a reduced-price pork arepa.
Cover photo: Popo le Chien, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.