ALL/ EAT (out)

New Places to Eat in Cincinnati Part 1: The Arepa Place

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.

Plantain Chips and Guacamole

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!

Empanadas

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!

Chorizo Arepa

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!)

Breakfast Empanadas

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.

Breakfast Arepa

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)!

ALL/ EAT (out)/ EXPRESSO

La Grassa Coffee and Gelato

I love coffee and sweets.  That’s no secret.  I’d be hard pressed to pick between the two if someone made me.  Most days I can’t articulate clear thoughts (or say words) without coffee so I guess coffee wins.  Luckily, I don’t have to pick because La Grassa in Madeira serves quality coffee and homemade gelato! If you’re anything like me, you enjoy your coffee and your sweets together.  At La Grassa you can do just that.  Order one of each, or, get a little wild and try an Affogato (espresso poured on top of vanilla gelato) or some Espresso Chip Gelato! Either way, it’s a taste of sweetly caffeinated heaven.

Speaking of caffeine, La Grassa serves Intelligentsia coffee which is a well-known roaster in Chicago.  It’s direct trade, exceptionally roasted coffee that the baristas at La Grassa brew with skill. We enjoyed a few drinks on a recent visit; my husband loved his Cortado (espresso mixed with equal parts steamed milk) while I ventured into somewhat familiar territory with my Mocha.  

Now, I love my mochas.  It’s my go-to frou-frou drink.  But, I’m a real milk kind of girl; I’ve tried various kinds of nut and soy milks and I just can’t do it.  I don’t like the flavor, but even more importantly, I don’t like the texture.  I made that very clear when I was asked to try mine with oat milk.  Oat milk?! Gotta say I was hugely impressed.  The oat milk didn’t break up in the hot coffee and the consistency was super creamy and rich.  If you try to avoid dairy in your coffee drinks (regular or frou-frou), I highly recommend a coffee break at La Grassa.

Cortado

Mocha made with oat milk.

Minor Figures oat milk shipped in from Europe

Even more impressive than the coffee bar at this sweet little shop in the heart of Madeira, is the gelato which is made by hand using only the freshest ingredients by an owner who actually studied the art of making gelato in Italy! Yep, in Italy.  The secret to this gelato, in addition to the skill and knowledge of the maker, is the fresh ingredients.  Remember, I only write about places I like and we tasted every single flavor of gelato on that menu.  Each was creamy, not too sweet, and a celebration of fresh flavors in subtle ways.  From the Apple Cider to the Pistachio, from the Passion Fruit to the Salted Caramel, it was just so good and so refreshing.  I loved the slivers of rich chocolate, the taste of actual vanilla beans, and the boldness of real passion fruit. Even their chocolate and caramel sauces are made from scratch!

Cookies and Cream

Espresso Chip

After stuffing ourselves with gelato and coffee, we got a tour of the kitchen (which was clean and highly organized).  We were told that the question that drives the business is this: What are we using and how are we using it?  I have zero doubts about that.  The owner, who studied in Italy, has a manufacturing background which is reflected in his meticulous notebooks of perfectly balanced ratios.  Everything at La Grassa is thoughtful.

We ordered one of these cheesecake gelato pies for the holidays and it was delish!

So, whether you stop in for coffee, gelato, or both, I highly recommend a visit to La Grassa.  It’s a great location and an even better product.  Get your coffee and gelato to go or sit for a while with a friend.

GO THERE (La Grassa)! TRY THAT (Espresso Chip gelato, Passion Fruit sorbet, Latte, Cortado)!

La Grassa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato