El Arepazo Latin Grill on Pearl Street in Downtown Columbus. Pearl Alley is home to the Pearl Market on Tuesdays and Fridays, so I have actually been near El Arepazo many times, but I never stopped in.
I was missing something wonderful and didn't even know it.
El Arepazo Latin Grill specializes in Venezuelan food. They have meat, fish, and vegetarian entrees, but I was there for their eponymous arepas. An arepa, as I found out, is made with two flat, round corn patties (kind of a thick corn pancake) between which there is a savory filling. I chose the vegetarian option which is filled with rice, black beans, shredded lettuce, tomato, queso fresco, and banana peppers and topped with their "famous" cilantro sauce. The arepa was difficult to eat. The corn patties were a little tough to bite through and the filling caused them to slide around a bit, but after making a bit of a mess, I dug in with a fork and had much more luck.
Even though the arepa was messy, it was delicious.
The cilantro sauce - which tasted like it was made with cilantro, lime, jalapeño, and sour cream - was amazing. I chose the mild option but wish I had tried the spicy variety as well. I also wish that I had indulged in a second helping of the sauce. I did not use it wisely and it was gone far too quickly. It was the perfect thing to complete the dish, and I found myself scraping the remainder from the container to get the most of the 1 oz allotment.
El Arepazo had other vegetarian options, desserts, and side dishes, but the arepa was so filling that I couldn't have indulged had I wanted to - that's actually saying a lot since I tend to have a big appetite and it takes a lot for me to turn down flan and fried plantain.
It was a great lunch and I can't wait to return to try some of their other options.