I first went to Arepera the week of the grand opening. The high quality of the sandwiches caught my attention right away, but the service, while friendly, was uneven. Sometimes things were very slow, and one time my order was inexplicably lost altogether.
However, the handmade arepas were so great that I kept going back. The good news is that the service issues seem to have been ironed out, while the quality of the arepas continues to be high. The place keeps getting better and better. Other people have noticed, too. The place is often packed.
My favorite arepa is the Pabellón, which has shredded beef, black beans, fried plaintains, and cheese. The Reina Pepiada arepa, with chicken and avocado, is my husband's favorite. There are more unusual varieties, too. Take the Cazón, for instance. It's stewed shark in tomato sauce.
The sandwiches come out hot and fresh, and it's best to eat them right away. They are served with a small side of chopped watercress dressed with avocado and two kinds of sauce: a mild one made with avocados and a spicier variety. I like to use both, squirting a bit of each on my sandwich from time to time as I snarf it down.
One of the more interesting things about Arepera is that it caters simultaneously to meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. What's more, since the arepas are made of 100% corn, the vast majority of the choices at Arepera are gluten free. Very unusual for a gluten-free eater to be able to pick nearly anything off a restaurant menu!
The arepas are the star, but don't miss out on the juices either. There are several to choose from, including a limeade made with cane sugar, passion fruit, and tamarind. These sweet concoctions are the perfect pairing to a spicy arepa.
Arepera is not the kind of place you meet friends for a leisurely evening out. The vibe is casual, and the turnover of tables is high. If you are out on the Plateau and looking for something to eat, though, do stop in. Arepera has found its stride and serves up some great sandwiches.
Arepera du Plateau
Metro: Sherbrooke or Mont-Royal
Price: Allow $15 - $20 per person, including tax and tip.
Highlights: Super arepas. Laid-back atmosphere. Friendly owner.