This was the opening weekend for the Uptown Market. You’ll remember last year when I went as often as possible and tried to eat as many Magic Bus Café hotdogs as I could and then convince all my friends they needed to go there and try everything. This year, I showed up at the Uptown Market, expecting to see the Magic Bus Café, and was a tad bit bummed about their absence. I know they have places to be though, so I completely understand. Fortunately, while driving over to the Market, I saw someone had posted a photo of the Hola Arepa food truck on Facebook, which was open for business at the Uptown Market. I knew I was going to have one of those, since I love Arepas.
The opening day of the Uptown Market was a little disappointing vendor-wise. I had heard a lot of the usual vendors simply didn’t show up without calling the Market people to let them know. Totally understandable absences for some of the vegetable vendors since many of the products simply aren’t ready for sale yet. But there were a lot of other vendors missing. Normally, at the Uptown Market, there are 4 or 5 blocks of vendors, food booths, and musicians. This time around, there was about a block and a half of vendors, food, and musicians. The sad part was that there were TONS of people. I’m sorry, absent vendors – you missed out on some serious publicity and cash. The Open Streets Minneapolis on Lyndale Avenue was the same day, drawing TONS of people on bikes and foot, and handful of street performers all up and down Lyndale Avenue. This drew a lot of crossover with the Uptown Market crowd, which was nice to see. It helped out the vendors that were there, so that’s good, and I’m happy to see that. This also meant the two food vendors in the Uptown Market were completely swamped. The line for Hola Arepa was about 25 people deep when I arrived.
If you’re not familiar with Arepas, they’re a South/Latin American style of taco – sort of. It’s like a cornmeal pita cut in half and filled with delicious toppings. Usually some sort of shredded meat with cheese and cilantro and other things, but they also have vegetarian ones with black beans and lettuce and such. I ran into EJens at the Market and we decided to stop at Hola Arepa for lunch, especially when we saw our fried Jesse in line near the front. Hahahahaha. He was willing to take our money and our order and help us out so we didn’t have to wait. Awesome.
While we were standing near the line, someone from the food truck would periodically come out of the truck and erase a menu item. Hola Arepa was selling out of everything they had. Hooray for them – boo for people standing in line hoping to get something that was being erased. This huge crowd was generating serious business for this awesome food truck. Ejens, Jesse and I all got the pulled pork arepas, since those remained on the board when Jesse got to the front of the line.
We waited a couple of minutes for them to call Jesse’s number and they arrived. Frankly, I was a little surprised at how small they were, since we paid $6 for them. However, I had just returned from China where I could get full for $3.
The cornmeal pita was stuffed pretty full of pulled pork, black beans, cotija cheese, and some special yellow/green secret sauce. I took one bite and knew I had a winner. They were good. The nice thing was the cornmeal pouch wasn’t greasy like MANY other arepas I’ve had (yes, I’ve had a LOT of them), especially street food arepas. It seemed to be almost grease-free, in fact. The pulled pork was super tender and tasty and you can’t ever have too many black beans for me. The special sauce will remain secret since I don’t want to begin to guess what sorts of vegetables and things make a sauce that color, but it is really delicious. The whole thing got a thumbs up from me.
Again, they’re a little bit smaller than I expected, but it was more filling than a standard sized taco. But flavor-wise, you won’t be disappointed. I’m assuming that’s another reason the line for this place was so lengthy. Word was getting around these things were fantastic. Also, there were only two food vendors to choose from…
I’m looking forward to next weekend’s Uptown Market. Just because there is an awesome food truck selling arepas, doesn’t mean I won’t go to the equally awesome purple Magic Bus to get a hot dog or 3.
Here’s hoping for a fantastic Uptown Market season in 2011, and here’s hoping Hola Arepa food truck returns to fill my belly!!