Sunday, November 29, 2009


As a Latin American it is always refreshing to see that our community is growing and becoming more respected in the multicultural city of Toronto. I say Latin American because I don’t think I could say I’m 100% Mexican anymore. After having the opportunity of knowing people from countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and Argentina I now think that I feel more Latin than just Mexican. My vocabulary (even my accent!) is a mix of Colombian, Venezuelan and Mexican words. I enjoy their music, food and culture as if they were mine.

Quite differently to what people might think, even when we all Latin Americans share Spanish as a language, our culture and lifestyles are not the same so we have plenty to share and learn! I have to say that I love the way Colombians and Venezuelans see life, they are happy people. They laugh, dance and enjoy life like there’s no tomorrow and they welcome Mexicans as family.

When we arrived to Canada almost seven years ago, we got to Montreal at the same time as this wonderful Venezuelan couple with whom we became best friends. Besides sharing our first steps in our new country we had the opportunity to know their cheerful culture and their delicious food. Ale and Freddy introduced us to a side of our Latin culture that we didn’t know and to the luscious world of the arepa.

Arepas are made of corn and they look like a super thick tortilla. They are more like patties and can be grilled or baked (we have a similar thing in Mexico called Gorditas only that these are fried). There are many variations of the arepa according to their place of origin but I have to say my favourite is the Venezuelan (yes mi pana!)

So now you will understand my excitement when I saw there was a place called Arepa Cafe opening soon in Queen Street West. As a business owner I love to check out new concepts and I have to say that this place gets a straight A (or 10 for the Latin American community).

Arepa Cafe, is a Venezuelan eatery where you’ll find the most popular types of arepas from the famous Reina Pepiada (chicken and avocado) to the Pernil (roasted pork with caramelized onions and cheese). Another delight is a type of finger food called Tequeños which are cheese strips covered with bread dough that make them look like breadsticks. These are deep fried and come with a side of “guasacaca” (an avocado spread very similar to the Mexican guacamole).
My favourites were the Avocado and Queso Fresco arepa and the Cachapa (a corn pancake with fresh cheese). Both were fresh and light and a perfect option for a tasty vegetarian meal. For dessert we had the Quesillo that is very similar to what we know as a flan or crème brûlée, it was really yummy! They also sell soups, sandwiches, coffee and what they call batidos (fresh fruit juices).

We had the chance to meet Eduardo Lee, one of the owners. He was a delight! He explained to us a little bit about the concept and made us feel totally welcomed. Eduardo has a degree in environmental design and many years experience in the restaurant industry and it shows. The minimalist, chic and retro decor with the authentic and cool music reflect the modern Venezuelan culture (and I would say Latin American reality) or as he calls it “Venezuelan urbanity”.
The excellent quality of the food, the warm and nice ambience with accessible prices and a self service formula make Arepa Café a perfect Cheap and Chic place!

Congratulations, Eduardo and Mark! You’re doing a great job. I’ll spread the word and I hope your place becomes an inspiration for other talented Latin Americans with great ideas.

Wow, it feels so good to be Latin! Believe me, this was CHEVERE!


  1. I'm totally going to Arepa Cafe! Thanks for the post and yes, it's good to be Latin!

  2. Viviana Gonzalez LaraFebruary 28, 2010 at 11:04 PM

    Se me hizo agua la boca!! Lastima que no vivo en Toronto :(
    Felicidades por tu blog, acabo de entrar y esta padrisimo, me encanta tu forma de escribir. Saludos y un abrazo.