Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free at Caracas Arepa Bar, Williamsburg, New York

Caracas-Arepa-Bar

Caracas-Arepa

My friend Elinor told me I had to go here when I visited New York. And this was one of the best recommendations. Tucked behind the main streets in Williamsburg, Caracas Arepa Bar is a great experience. It’s hip, but not too hip – and the food is truly delicious.

The Brooklyn restaurant follows on from the the first Caracas Arepa, which opened in East Village in 2003 (and a new one has just opened in Rockaway). Its name showcases the arepa, which is a Venezuelan corn muffin/bun. These are gluten-free and usually crisp on the outside and soft in the middle because they’re baked and grilled. They can be plain or filled – and can be a snack or a main meal, or even a breakfast.

La-Surena

There are 12 variations of the Arepa on the main menu – and usually Brunch Arepas with Perico (Venezuelan-style scrambled eggs) and a Special, too. Most of them have wonderful-sounding fillings such as the La de Pernil (Roasted Pork Shoulder, Tomato Slices and Spicy Mango Sauce), or the Playa Deluxe (Pan-Seared Tilapia with Garlic-Infused Oil, Sautéed Mushrooms, Avocado Slices, Pickled Onions and Homemade Herb Mayo). I chose the La Sureña (Grilled Chicken, Hearty Chorizo with Avocado Slices and the Classic and Always Enigmatic Spicy Chimi-Churri Sauce). It was completely delicious. Chicken, chorizo and avocado are classic pairings – and always good – and these worked really well within the corn casing and with the fantastic spicy sauce.

Ceviche-de-Camaron

One arepa is not enough. Truly. Even if you’re already full, they taste too good to not try something else. So I did… The Ceviche de Camarón proved irresistible. Shrimp Ceviche with Purple Onions, Green Mango, Red Peppers, Jalapeño, Cilantro and Lime, with Plantain Chips. As they say – summer in a glass. The soft, marinated shrimp with the crunchy onions and pepper were spicy and delicious – and the lime was beautifully balanced. On top of this were fantastic sweet/salty plantain chips.

The staff are assured and knowledgeable about gluten-free/dairy-free. And there’s a great choice of dishes for free-from customers. It usually takes a while to get a table. When I went, during the day, there were a whole load of empty tables, but I was still made to wait for 20 minutes until I was taken to a table. And the evenings get very, very busy, apparently – with loooong queues. But, like many places where you have to wait, it’s definitely worth it.

Caracas Arepa Williamsburg is at 291 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211.

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