Seven years ago, Riccardo Romero opened Arepas Cafe in Astoria confident that there was a place for Venezuelan street food amidst New York City’s diverse cuisines. For the past five of those years, I’ve been obsessed with Arepas Cafe’s (and now sister restaurant Arepas Grill’s) awesome, affordable menu.
While that menu has remained pretty much the same, every year I look forward to the annual roll out of their special holiday menu which includes such must try gems as Pan de jamón, a Venezuelan Christmas bread stuffed with ham, raisins and green olives. The specialty can be purchased by the slice for $3 or as a whole loaf for $26, and would be an outstanding thing to bring to a holiday party if you want to be an awesome guest.
On my last visit with friends, we decided to tackle a bottle of the Ponche Crema Casero, homemade Venezuelan Egg Nog liberally spiked with rum ($30 a bottle/$5 a glass). Thick, rich, eggy and boozy, this drink could easily become a new Astoria holiday tradition.
As luck would have it, Ricardo popped in as we were halfway through the bottle to let us know he and his cousin bottle and label the the beverage themselves. Like everything about the Astoria I love, Arepas Cafe is about pride and commitment to cuisine, and to sharing it, and their holiday menu is a fast track feast to holiday spirit.
Read more about Ricardo and Arepas Cafe in this awesome Serious Eats piece by my friends (and outstanding Astoria writers) Mark and Anne:
Pictured above, my pal, ex-Sunnysider and Queens boy at heart, Mark. Hi Mark!