It’s hard to deny Austin has some of the best tacos in the country. And they’re everywhere! Before moving here, tacos were a once-in-a-while treat for me, and now they’re a part of my weekly–and sometimes daily–diet. But there is an amazing meal that took me a little longer to discover: arepas! Yes, tacos will always be great, and I’m glad they’re popular cuisine here. But in this article, I’ll shed some light on the arepa, the taco’s under-appreciated cousin.
What is an arepa? It’s a patty, or cake, made from ground corn. The ground corn is mixed with water and salt to make a dough, and can either be fried, baked, or grilled. Arepas are normally eaten as a savory dish with beans, meat, and/or cheese. They’re typical to the cuisine in Venezuela and Colombia, but are enjoyed widely throughout Latin America and the world.
Following is a list of local restaurants and food trucks where you can find delicious arepas, as well as an array of other Latin American dishes.
1/ Plaza Colombian Coffee
One bonus of Latin American cuisine is the coffee from that region is some of the best in the world. Plaza Colombian Coffee’s name suggests the coffee is the main attraction, and it certainly is an important part of the offerings. (I always get the Sweet Bee latte, my absolute favorite.)
But alongside the quality coffee and espresso beverages is a selection of pastries, tapas, and meals, including what you came here for: super fresh and delicious arepas.
For breakfast, the Mañanera is a classic choice: a hot arepa topped with eggs and mozzarella. For lunch or dinner options, arepas with steak or chicken toppings are also available. You can also add an egg to these for extra protein.
If you need any more convincing, Plaza Colombian’s homemade salsas are out of this world good. All arepas come with little dishes of both red and green salsa, adding more layers of incredible flavor to an already festive meal.
3842 S. Congress Ave. – Website
2/ Four Brothers
Four Brothers has two locations: one on Rainey Street and one on Barton Springs Road. I’ve visited the one located in The Picnic food truck park on Barton Springs, which is the perfect place to stop before your swimming or hiking adventure.
One arepa dish I want to highlight is the signature “4 Brothers” arepa, which contains avocado, cheese, sweet plantain, tomato, and black beans, and is topped with either pork or chicken. I normally get the chicken, which comes shredded and is exceptionally tender.
If you need that little extra something, I highly recommend getting some yucca fries on the side. They are cut extra thick, topped with cheese, and in my opinion are much more flavorful than regular fries, even without condiments.
1720 Barton Springs Road and 80 Rainey St. – Website
3/ Cafe Nena’i
This mother and daughter-owned cafe is located on the east side. Cafe Nena’i identifies as a bakery, and probably has the largest selection of sweets and dessert pastries on this list. The culinary influences are wide, and include Paraguay, Argentina, and Cuba, in addition to Venezuela.
Cafe Nena’i has several Cuban coffee and espresso beverages as well as Yerba Mate to enjoy with your pastry of choice. The sole arepa is a breakfast dish filled with eggs, ham, and cheese.
If you’re looking for variety, also check out the empanadas. There are several different types, and the spinach empanada is vegetarian-friendly.
1700 Montopolis Dr. – Website
Artessano is a food trailer located within the Pangea Lounge, a food truck park and music venue on the east side that offers a range of world flavors. The local eatery describes itself as “no frills,” which is exactly what we need sometimes. If you know what you want, and that something is an arepa, then you can narrow your choices down to a place where they do arepas really well.
Artessano serves arepas two different ways. The first is rellena, which means your arepa is stuffed with your choice of filling: beef, eggs, chicken, or a vegetarian option of beans, avocado, and cheese. The second option is to get an arepa plate, with your meal served on top of the arepa instead of as a stuffing.
Either way, your meal will provide layers of deliciousness in a healthy, hearty portion size.
1211 E. 6th St. — Website
5/ Aurora Venezuelan Food
So far I’ve shown you arepas that are served with fillings or as a type of open face sandiwich. The Pabellón bowl pictured above is an example of a different way arepas can be served: as a tidy topping, a hubcap to tie together an already delicious wheel of food.
Located in The Domain, Aurora Venezuelan Food is a food truck that serves your typical Venezuelan dishes. Along with arepas, you’ll find patacónes, hamburgers, tequeños, cachapas, and mandocas. If you’re not sure what one or more of these items are, but they sound delicious, then check out this food truck and try something new!
As a bonus, if you’re a sauce person, Aurora has a huge selection of housemade sauces with names like “bacon” and “powerful garlic.” This is basically heaven for a condiment-lover like me.
3220 Amy Donovan Plaza – Website
@theAustinot wants to know:
Where do you go to find the best arepas in Austin?
We always have unique content on the Austinot, and we love to give things away. You know, like event tickets, locally-made products, and other cool stuff. We only send out our Best of the Austinot newsletter two times/month. It’s where we give you a recap of our best articles and give stuff away. Interested? Subscribe to Best of the Austinot here.