La Arepa Venezuelan

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La Arepa

La Arepa

Location: SE 50th and Ivon, A la Carts Food Pavilion
Hours: Daily, 9am-8pm

The Story:

Portland has some great street food from around the world, but we’re lacking a bit in foods from South America. We have a few, but not many. La Arepa has opened and offers authentic Venezuelan food at A la Carts Food Pavilion.

The namesake of this cart is the arepa, a traditional snack/sandwich out of Venezuela. An arepa is a flat, round, bread-like patty made of cornmeal. It is then grilled and filled with cheese, meats, fish and/or vegetables. Since it is wheat-free, it is naturally gluten free and takes the place of bread in many Venezuelan homes. They may look small, but they are filling.

Arepas from La Arepa

Arepas from La Arepa

The arepas we enjoyed on our visit were served with shredded beef and shredded tilapia. The beef, slow cooked with garlic, onion, paprika and black pepper was moist and succulent with an amazing depth of flavor. The tilapia was seasoned with onions, garlic, paprika and sweet pepper, mellowing out the natural saltiness of the fish with some sharp flavors. The actual arepa patty was the key though. It is dense and makes a great vessel for the meat and fish. Looking at the menu, I now want to try one with meat and cheese.

La Arepa is open every day of the week to serve their tasty Venezuelan dishes. Beyond arepas, they have breakfast dishes, tapas (small plates,) empanadas, desserts, and full meals. This is one of those hidden gems you will be glad you found. Check them out and let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.

Sample Menu:

  • Arepa with shredded beef – $6
  • Arepa with chicken – $5
  • Domino: arepa stuffed with black beans and white Cotija cheese – $5
  • Reina Pepiada: arepa stuffed with chopped chicken salad prepared with potatoes, carrots and avocado – $6.50
  • Perico: arepa stuffed with scrambled eggs with garlic, onion, sweet pepper and tomato – $5
  • Empanada with shredded beef: turnover-like cornmeal stuffed pocket – $3
  • Empanada with fish – $3
  • Empanada Domino – black beans and grated white cheese – $2.50
  • Pabellon Criollo – white rice, seasoned shredded beef, fried plantains, sliced avocado, fried egg, black beans and topped with Cotija cheese – $8
  • Cachapa – pancake-like dish made of fresh ground corn with a soft Mozzarella cheese and butter – $4.50

Hours: Daily, 9am-8pm
Phone: 503 200 4952
Facebook: La Arepa

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Mami Coll’s

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Mami Coll's

Mami Coll’s

Location: A la Carts Pod (
Hours: More info coming soon.

Venezuelan food

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Caraquena

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Location: 8327 N Denver St.
[Location updated June 2011]

Description:

Caraquena is the newest cart on the scene, only 4 days old.  On the side of the cart and on the menu, Caraquena is listed as Michelle’s Amazing Venezuelan Kitchen and today I enjoyed the first of what I believe will be amazing lunches.

I’m not sure I can describe what Venezuelan food is, so I won’t try.  I suggest you go peruse the menu and head on down with your questions.  What I do know is that Michelle makes her signature dishes from scratch.  When I arrived around 12:40, you could tell she had been busy and she confirmed that.  I wasn’t sure what to order from the pretty sizable menu, so she started describing items and making recommendations.  She offered up empanadas and or arepas, describing the differences.  I opted for Arepas which turned out to be sandwich like instead of a pocket like the empanada.  They have an arepa special that gets you 2 arepas and 2 sides.  While I stood around chatting with another patron, Michelle began to prepare my meal.  She pulled out a Tupperware container of dough that she kneaded into a ball to make the arepa corn flour patty.  Right there, she made it.  I was floored.  She then moved on to her cutting board to pound out freshly cut sweet plantains for plantain chips – just for me.  I felt so special.  The meal I ate consisted of 2 arepas – one of chicken and one of pork along with black beans and plantain chips with her signature sauces.

Arepa Especial

Arepa Especial

The food was excellent.  Flavorful and a plenty.  There was a lot there, so be prepared.  I’m glad I stopped by.

As stated, Michelle has been open only 4 days and admittedly is still working out new cart kinks.  Trust me, it is worth the wait.  Welcome the neighborhood Michelle and Caraquena.

[Update June 2011: Caraquena recently reopened in the Kenton neighborhood in North Portland.]

Sample Menu:

  • Cruzado – Traditional Venezuelan stew – belly warming stew made with beef shank, chicken, exotic jungle roots, corn, potatoes, carrots, scallions and cilantro – $5.50
  • Pabellon – Traditional Venezuelan plate – shredded cumin and sweet peppers, beef with house rice, black beans, sweet plantains and iceberg salad with house vinaigrette – $5.50
  • Plantains – fried with choice of toppings – between $3.50 and $5
  • Empanadas – fried corn flour turnovers – choice of chicken, beef, cheese or black bean – $4
  • Arepas – corn flour patty sandwich – choice of beef and black bean, ham and cheese, beef with herbs, chicken, veggie – $4.50
  • Combination plates for Empanadas or Arepas add 2 sides – between $5.50 and $6
  • assorted drinks available

Phone: unknown
Email: unknown
Facebook: Caraquena
Hours: Lunchtime weekdays, including Saturday

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