Happy (almost) New Year!
I’m excited to start a series featuring new(ish) restaurants in the Cincinnati area! Over the next couple months I plan to highlight my fave new places and my fave new dishes in the area. Welcome to the first post in the series.
I absolutely love Latin food! I first tried The Arepa Place at City Flea in Washington Park. Thankfully, this sweet family eatery now has a brick and mortar location outside Findlay Market (next to Maverick Chocolate). The Arepa Place serves up simple, traditional, Colombian street food that is anything but ordinary. Opened in September, this restaurant focuses on Arepas and Empanadas- all made from scratch.
On our first visit, we started with plantain chips because the owner recommended we do so, but I am typically not a fan of plantain anything. Guess what?! I am now. I ate the lion’s share of this basket; these plantains are thin, crispy, and slightly salty. It’s the perfect partner for that guacamole. Don’t skip this!
I’ve always been a big fan of Empanadas; in fact, I like meat pies of all kinds. What I appreciate most about the empanadas at The Arepa Place is that initial crunch when you first bite in followed by loads of savory meat. We ordered ground beef and chicken empanadas, but for the vegetarians out there, you can get cheese, eggplant, or potato! Order a few for a meal, or get one or two as a snack!
Instead of using corn meal, The Arepa Place uses a corn grinder which, while labor intensive, adds to the quality! The empanadas are made with yellow corn and the arepas are made with white corn. Both delicious. And I have to highlight the chorizo (see pic above). This is the best chorizo I’ve had. It’s not the chorizo I’ve encountered at many Mexican restaurants. Instead of being ground, it’s more like links; this chorizo is fresh, not greasy, and cooked perfectly. We had a chorizo arepa for lunch and went back the next morning for the chorizo and egg arepa! Maybe I’m planning my next trip to Findlay Market just so I can order this again! (Who has a problem?! I don’t have a problem!)
I’m a fan of this place for so many reasons! Isis, who is originally from Colombia, and her mother do all the cooking. Isis’ husband, Chris, is also involved in the operations and he’s the first face you see upon entering. If the people behind the business matter in regards to where you spend your money, please know that this couple are just about the nicest people out there. Isis clearly has a passion for cooking and Chris will make you feel at home in their restaurant.
I think, over the course of our last two visits, we tried all the salsas; each made from scratch. I think our top choice is the Salsa Roja: tomatoes, green onion, red pepper, and habanero. The Arepa Place is also a small market selling Columbian staples such as candies, sodas, coffee, and cooking ingredients. All in all, I highly suggest adding this restaurant to your “must try” dining out list!
The NEW Year is here and I am excited to share some of my favorite NEW places to eat in Cincinnati! Stay tuned for Part 2!
GO THERE (The Arepas Place)! TRY THAT (Plantain Chips and Guac, Chorizo everything, Arepas)!