Arepa Factory: Put This On Top Of Your East Village Quick-Bites List
Arepas are delicious, no question about it, those overflowing, semi-open sandwiches that substitute bread or pita with a dense, chewy cornmeal cake that for some reason has never been nearly as popular here as, say, the taco. Sure you can get fantastic arepas at a few select locations around the city–most notably, Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village, Williamsburg, and at Rockaway Beach in the summer; and via the amazing Arepa Lady, at her cart and storefront in Jackson Heights–but the options have always been limited. For example: the Upper West Side could really use some good arepas, just saying! Ah, but now there's Arepa Factory, a strong new player to the game, albeit one that's located just a few blocks away from the original Caracas Arepas in the East Village. I checked in with Arepa Factory on opening weekend, and here's the scoop.
A Step Inside The Arepa Factory on Avenue A
Arepa Factory is a narrow strip of a place, with a handful of crammed-in tables in the back and a narrow counter running along the wall opposite the ordering area. Tompkins Square Park is right across the street so in pleasant weather a take-out picnic seems to be the way to go, but it's comfortable enough inside for a quick bite. The menu is extensive–choosing from the among the more than 20 "specialties" is daunting, especially when you throw in all of the additional "create-your-own" options–so even with two meals I've only just scratched the surface of all the delights here. Because if the arepas I ate are any indication, further exploration will be a rewarding experience indeed.
What To Eat At Arepa Factory
I liked most everything I tried at the new Arepa Factory–and, because I was with a bottomless pit of an eater, I tried a lot–but the standouts specialty "sandwiches" include the Frida Kahlo, a simple but well-balanced blend of zippy ground beef, black beans, avocado, and mild white cheese; and La Negra, packed with asado negra (basically: sticky barbecue beef), big chunks of sweet plantains, and thickly-shredded, salty Guayanes cheese. The Americana was also satisfying, stuffed with baby back ribs and yellow American cheese, as was La Espanola, with chorizo and manchego. But it's the arepas themselves–the actual shells–that really make these special, the slightly-sweet, wonderfully-textured corn cakes freshly made and well suited to the task of carrying these often-heavy ingredients. They are also gluten-free, if that's an issue. On and don't forget dessert–the Venezuelan flan is excellent.
For Menu and More Information on Arepa Factory
Arepa Factory is located at 147 Avenue A between Ninth and Tenth Streets and is open Monday through Friday from 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m., on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00, and on Sundays from 10:00 until 9:00.