Saturday, October 26, 2013

Teque Arepa – Eden Prairie, MN

I’m a big fan of arepas. I’ve had arepas from maybe ten different places, so I’m not an expert or anything, but I know what I like. For those not familiar, arepas are sort of like tacos, but on a corn starch circle of bread that looks like a large English muffin or a pita. They’re hold-able sandwiches filled with a variety of toppings. Arepa shells (are they called shells? that, I don’t know, actually) are either deep fried in oil or cooked on a flat-top.

A new Arepa place opened up in Eden Prairie in the old Roly Poly (which I was super sad to see leave) and I was dying to try it. I pulled into the parking lot and there was a car next to me with the menu held to the dashboard with a band-aid. That guys is SERIOUS about trying everything on the menu. I like your style, good sir.

The menu on the wall of the restaurant is comprehensive (the photo is from the small take-home menu). Lots of different fillings for your arepa, lots of sides, and lots of juices and drinks. A very nice gentleman at the counter welcomed me and asked if I had had Venezuelan food before. I told him I had had arepas before but not some of the other items, and I was looking forward to trying them. I ordered a Pabellón arepa (he said they were his best seller) and some Queso Blanco Empanadas. Sadly, the man told me the fryers weren’t working right now and I couldn’t get those, nor the fried plantains, nor the fried desserts (tequeños). He seemed as bummed as I did. But he did suggest, “maybe you just order two arepas!” – and that, I did, my friends. So I went with the Rumbera arepa. I had heard people raving about the lemonade with sugar cane in it, so I got one of those as well – called a Papelón con Limón. He asked if I wanted hot sauce or garlic sauce, and then he said, “maybe I just put them on the side. You can choose how much.” Great idea and thank you!

I was a worried when the order came out because the drink looked like a tamarind drink I saw some people drinking. Thankfully, it wasn’t – I’m not a fan of tamarind, no offense. But this was like a lemonade I’d never had before. Very sweet without being sickeningly sweet. The sour of the lemon balanced it all out – I was extremely pleased with this beverage choice. Although, next time, I want to try the soursop shake and pretty much every juice smoothie and shake they have.

The Arepa Rumbera was packed full. Sliced roasted pork and cheddar cheese busting out all over the place. I tried a bite to see if it was as good as it looked. The shell wasn’t greasy like some of the arepas I’ve had before at other places. Very light and just slightly grilled on each side, leaving marks. Crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The meat was extremely tender and flavorful and I just couldn’t get enough. I tried some with the garlic sauce – Winner. You need to use the garlic sauce. I tried some with the hot sauce – Winner. You need to use the hot sauce, as well. It isn’t like a salsa, it’s like a South American version of Frank’s Red Hot. Vinegary with heat, but also good flavor. Fantastic arepa!

The Pabellón was even better. I think this one is more traditional, based on others I’ve had. It has black beans, shredded beef, white cheese, and sweet plantain slices. I loved that with every bite, there would be this delicious sweet plantain flavor right at the end of the chewing. This one got a little messy, but only because it was packed full, like the first one. Again, the garlic sauce and the hot sauce jazzed it up (not that it needed it) just right.

There was a Venezuelan guy sitting behind me explaining all things Venezuelan to his coworker. Normally, I would have been annoyed, but he was extremely knowledgeable and thorough. I soaked it all up. He talked about how he makes arepas the easy and fast way for his kids every Sunday morning, but Teque Arepa makes them the traditional and better way. They were also playing Venezuelan music on the speakers inside and he commented that what they were actually playing was traditional Christmas music in Venezuela – he was amused.

There were tons of Spanish-speakers eating lunch here, which I was really happy to see. The dining room was decreased since Roly Poly moved out, but there are still 6 or 7 small tables to sit at – all of which were full. Man, I hope this place stays open forever!

I think I just found my new favorite lunch place.................

Top 5 things about Teque Arepa
1. Pabellón arepa
2. Rumbera arepa
3. Lemonade with Sugar Cane - Papelón con Limón
4. Really friendly staff
5. Very generous portions

Bottom 5 things
1. Bummed about the fryers not functioning – but totally forgivable
2. I wish I had a fork. None was brought out and none were provided near the counter
3. Very small dining room
4. So many things, it’s hard to decide – just keep going back!
5. This place is far from my home, but very close to my work. Dang it, now I’m going to want to go to work ALL THE TIME…

Teque Arepa
7733 Flying Cloud Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
(952) 405-8092


Anonymous said...

Take me!!!
-Your Wife

Pete said...

You were within 20 yards of my work and didn't stop in?

Ederick Lokpez said...

Great post! I am most certain I was the annoying person sitting behind you, I am glad I was of assistance!