On Saturday, July 20th, one of my favorite restaurants in Astoria, Arepas Cafe, quietly opened a second location called Arepas Grill in the shopping plaza at the corner of Broadway and 21st Street. This shopping plaza, which is also home to the Bel Aire Diner, was in need of another anchor restaurant, and it has found a truly great one in Arepas Grill.
For the next week or so, Arepas Grill will have the same menu as Arepas Cafe, the charming Venezuelan neighborhood favorite on 36th Avenue, but soon there will be some key, intriguing differences.
While the original location will remain the home of traditional Venezuelan fare in Astoria, Arepas Grill’s new menu, which will be unveiled in about a week or so, will include traditional Venezuelan dishes as well as Caribbean and Mediterranean influenced dishes that reflect the neighborhood’s culinary diversity. The new menu will also feature more platters than Arepas Cafe’s menu (which is heavy on Arepas), as well as more salads and even some pasta dishes. Along with the new menu, Arepas Grill hopes to add a beer and wine list in the weeks ahead.
While it’s not yet on the menu, in the spirit of the new menu’s offerings, the staff at Arepas Grill, (many of whom I happily recognized from Arepas Cafe) suggested I try the Asado Negro platter. The platter consisted of the traditional tender, flavorful cylindrical cuts of beef that had been cooked in brown sugar and spices, served alongside black beans with shredded white cheese, rice, and perfectly cooked sweet plantains which I doused in their signature guasacaca and sweet hot pepper sauces. They also offered some delicious fresh mango juice to go along with my dinner which I gratefully accepted.
The aesthetics of the new location are worth mentioning as well. While Arepas Cafe is cozy and intimate, Arepas Grill is airy, open, spacious and welcoming. Bar seating and window seating make the new location even more inviting for dropping in for a less casual bite instead of a full sit down meal. For now, Arepas Grill’s hours will be Sunday to Thursday from 11am to 10pm and Friday and Saturday from 11am to midnight. They will be serving brunch on weekends, and I’ve raved previously about Arepas Cafe’s brunch so I expect similarly great fare will be available at Arepas Grill.
To anyone who thinks the location might be a little bit out of the way, I would suggest that Arepas Grill is a new must-visit spot for Astorians on their way to the Socrates Sculpture Park, the Saturday Greenmarket at Socrates Sculpture Park, and the terrific local treasure, The Noguchi Museum.
So stop into Arepas Grill soon, congratulate them on the beautiful new location, eat hearty, and eat well Astoria.
Arepas Grill – 21-19 Broadway, Astoria NY