Since September of 2009, the Venezuelan restaurant My Arepa has been serving up a varied menu of authentic Venezuelan food in Mesa, Arizona.
The restaurant, whose owners say it is a tribute to their homeland, serves Venezuelan specialties such as arepas (corn patties), empanadas, cachapas (sweet corn pancakes), sancocho soup, Venezuelan sandwiches, and patacones (deep fried plantain sandwiches).
“The most popular dish that we have is pabellón [rice, black beans, sweet plantain and shredded beef] and cachapa, which has been considered by local press as the most exotic,” said owner Moisés Méndez.
“All the main recipes have been brought from our houses, from my wife’s mom, and my mom. Sometimes I called my mom and ask her “how do you do this?,” Méndez said.
Méndez and his wife, who are from Caracas and La Guaira respectively, have been working tirelessly on their restaurant since they arrived in the U.S. in 2009.
“My Arepa was created after the U.S. economic crisis, in my search for an exclusive market,” said Méndez.
A Meeting Place for Venezuelans
The restaurant is decorated with musical instruments from Venezuela, photographs of Venezuelan baseball players and posters of the national soccer team called “La Vinotinto,” among other cultural icons. According to clients, My Arepa not only offers Venezuelan culinary flavors, but also provides a gathering place for the Venezuelan community in the area.
“For the first time ever, we started to pay tribute to the Virgin of Chiquinquirá [one of the representations of the Virgin Mary in Venezuela], on November 18, 2011, by playing traditional Christmas carols, gaitas, the country’s traditional music, to spread our culture here so people can know about our traditions in December,” Méndez said, adding that Venezuelan gaita bands often perform at his restaurant.
During the 2011 Americas Cup, when soccer fever gripped Venezuela, My Arepa offered its “Vinotinto” arepa, only available when the national soccer team plays.
My Arepa is located at 2057 South Alma School Rd., Suite # 4, Mesa, Arizona, 85210. See their website and Facebook page.
Press Office – Venezuelan Embassy to U.S. / March 13, 2012