Colombian (Food) Porn - OZY | A Modern Media Company

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE

Because arepas in all their forms are king of the Colombian street food scene. 

You cannot know Colombia unless you know the arepa. Preferably you become acquainted with the arepa on a street corner in the late afternoon, washing it down with a cold beverage in a cloud of Spanish conversation and diesel fumes. The small circular corn cakes can be found fried, baked, buttered, grilled or stuffed in nearly every city from the coast to the jungle. Eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner in a crazy array of flavors that vary by region. 

colombia arepa

Brasarepa in Medellín offers up a beast of an arepa you won’t soon forget.

Source Alex Washburn/OZY

1. Cartagena’s Cheesy Delights

Tropical Cartagena, the crown jewel of Colombia’s Caribbean coastline, is home to a few must-eat street bites: café tinto (coffee with a metric ton of sugar) and papas (potato balls stuffed with meat and veggies). But most important of all are arepas con queso (with cheese). These babies can be found in the centro historico for 3,000 Colombian pesos (1 USD) or 2,500 Colombian pesos in less-touristy parts of the city. 

Douse the deep-fried treat in one of the homemade sauces the vendors keep at hand. We recommend tasting one outside the centro historico, where the arepa carts have faster turnover.  

2. Extreme San Gil

Known for white-water rapids, hiking and hang gliding, the outdoor capital of Colombia is San Gil, located in the landlocked region of Santander. Tucked away in the central market is an arepa stall that makes an overnight stay in the city worth it, even for those without the adrenaline-junkie gene.

The arepa con aguacate (with avocado) easily fits into the palm of your hand and comes stuffed with a Colombian take on chicken salad, with a quail egg and sliced avocado, drizzled in bright, flavorful sauces. The stall also serves up a variety of arepas with pork and hot dogs (an almost universally available arepa filling), but our hearts are lost to the avocado.

Address: Carrera 11 # 13, San Gil, Colombia (Stall 7-12)

 

3 and 4. Bogotá

Bogotá is a sprawling city with a population of more than 11 million in its metro area. Its central location creates an opportunistic dining scene.

Arepa de Huevo

Arepas stuffed with fried egg are a Caribbean specialty. Here at Gaira Café, a thumping cumbia club in the heart of Bogotá offers a beautiful representation of the fried egg arepa, which arrives pillowy soft and piping hot to your table with a trio of sauces. Gaira is open till 3 a.m., giving you plenty of time to work up some serious carb cravings.

Address: Carrera 13 #96-11, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, Colombia

Arepa Boyacense 

Named after the Boyacá region, arepas boyacanses are available in and around Bogotá. They’re a rare, slightly sweet version of the arepa and can come stuffed with a sweet cheese or even fruit. These arepas are thick, hearty, hold up well in a backpack and are slightly reminiscent of cornbread. 

5. Calí Comida Rapida

Calí is a laid-back city of just 2 million, a full day’s drive to the southwest of Bogotá. La Arepería is making a run at Americanizing the arepa, creating an assembly-line, fast-food version of the traditional street treat. With 11 locations in Calí, La Arepería experiments with fillings throughout the year. It’s worth checking out, if only for the anthropological pleasure of seeing Colombia McDonald’s-ify its heritage.

6. Holy Sh*t Medellín Arepa

Located in a southern suburb of Medellín, the lively neighborhood spot Brasarepa was once featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, for good reason. These arepas earn top marks across the board for their absurd size, Instagram potential and deliciousness. Get the arepa con todo (with everything), stuffed to overflowing with shredded pork, hot dog, pork rinds, avocado and two sauces. If you can finish two of these beasts, you might not be human.

Address: Calle 46 Sur #42-75 Barrio La Paz, Envigado, Colombia

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