TIFF had a Members Appreciation Weekend back in November. I attended the Poster Sale with Andrea. We didn’t purchase anything at the sale but we did grab something at the Gift Shop. Leaving the TIFF Bell Lightbox, we ventured along Queen St. West and ate at Arepa Café for lunch.
I had never heard of this place nor have I seen it on numerous walks along Queen St. West, but Andrea said it was a good place, as she had dined there before.
The place looks like a bakery/pastry cafe place but it’s known for their arepas. Don’t know what that is? Neither did we until we searched it up. Arepas are Venezuelan flatbreads made from ground maize dough. Essentially, they’re sandwiches with the bread made out of cornmeal. Based on other people’s orders, they looked pretty good.
Since I had All-You-Can-Eat sushi the night before, I was still pretty full. For once, I actually ordered a small dish! My original choice was the Soup of the Day (Butternut Squash) but sadly, they had run out. I opted for the Empanadas. I didn’t know what they were but Andrea told me promptly before we ordered.
The Empanadas came with two servings of your choice: cheese, chicken, beef, or fish. Upon ordering, our server told us I could mix and match. I went for one cheese and one beef empanada.
I was pretty excited to eat the cheese one because it sounded like it would be like mozzarella sticks. When the Empanadas arrived, I remembered that I had something similar to them. I probably had ones before but forgot that I ate it.
Here are the insides of the Empanadas.
With the cheese one, you don’t even see the cheese! I also didn’t even taste one hint of cheese! It was really disappointing since I wanted cheese. However, the dough was really good. It was nicely deep fried and sweet. If there was cheese instead, it would have made a nice sweet-savoury combo. In a way, I’m glad there was no cheese because the dough was really the best part and the cheese might overpower the dough.
The beef empanada tasted great. The beef was cooked tenderly, like pulled pork, and nicely seasoned. You could tell immediately that the seasoning was of South American based on the spices. The dough was the same as the cheese one but the beef taste overpowered it just a bit.
For my first time at Arepa Cafe, it was a decent experience. Had I ordered an Arepa or a main dish, I think I’d be able to give a proper review of the place. Andrea had one of the Arepas and she said it was kind of bland; nothing special. But, she really did like the Sweet Plantain. She enjoyed it more than the Arepa. So, order that if you do dine here!
Would I come back? Possibly. I’m not entirely sold on the place but if other places on my list were packed, I wouldn’t mind dining here again.