The South American street food gets elevated to sumptuous levels across town.
Arepas—what chef Victor Albisu at Del Campo calls elevated South American street food—are popping up all over DC. Their pockets harbor all kinds of interesting goodies like shredded beef, avocado, prawns, braised-lamb neck, octopus and beef tongue. The sandwiches are made from a dough of precooked corn flour griddled into round cakes—split open like English muffins—and filled. Here are our favorites.
Victor Albisu didn’t want to stray from the South American flavors when devising a new bar menu, so arepas fit perfectly. The asado arepa, with spiced chorizo, wagyu sirloin and chimichurri; and another filled with lobster salad, corn and smoked-trout caviar, are the most popular. Others are stuffed with crispy pig’s feet, duck-blood sausage and chicken salad, but our money is on the bacon, egg and cheese. $5-$9, 777 I St. NW, 202.289.7377
When a Launch Pad contest was held to see who would take over chef Ris Lacoste’s space at Union Market, Ari Arellano and Gabriela Febres, the native Venezuelan chefs and owners of Arepa Zone, won big. The sifrina is filled with shredded chicken, avocado and cilantro, and it’s topped with finely grated cheddar cheese. The four-napkin winner is the pabellón, oozing with shredded beef, black beans, plantains and queso fresco. $6-$9, 1309 Fifth St. NE
The LeDroit Park hot spot gives guests the option of plying themselves with arepas morning, noon and night. Start with an arepa of fried egg, cotija cheese, tomato, avocado and cilantro for breakfast. Choose cheese arepas with cilantro and onion-spiked aji sauce for lunch, and a roasted beef and avocado arepa with shredded pepper-jack cheese for dinner. $4-$12, 501 Florida Ave. NW, 202.332.7777