I stumbled upon this gem when a coworker told me about a Venezuelan appetizer called Tequeños. She knew I loved cheese and knew I couldn't go wrong with these chunks of queso blanco wrapped in a light dough and fried. They're served with salsa de ajo (a garlic cilantro sauce) and one order likely isn't enough.
If you're not familiar with arepas they originated in indigenous tribes of South America. They are made out of masa bread and are like a sandwich you can eat at any time of day. There are two types of arepas, Venezuelan and Colombian, and Arepa Zone tends to be more of the Venezuelan variety.
I had only had arepas one other time while in Las Vegas, and liked them but never really though of having them again. That all changed once I met Arepa Zone. Situated a few blocks from the White House in Downtown D.C., this small restaurant is worth the trip if you're in town.
What I loved:
TEQUEÑOS!!! I am in LOVE with these gooey, cheesy bites made even better by the salsa de ajo they're served with. My first arepa from them was Sifrina (chicken salad with shredded cheddar and avocado) and I wasn't fully sold, but the tequeños brought me back again. I now am hooked on the Canosa (shredded beef with queso fresco) and never leave without an extra salsa de ajo. I also seem to like the arepas a bit more the second day after the juices have settled into the masa bread and softened it
What I didn't love:
I haven't fallen in love with the Sifrina yet, but may give it another try with more salsa de ajo next time. I found it a little dry (even though the chicken salad does have some moisture in it).
Must try dish:
If you have read through this so far you know what I am going to say. Tequeños! You have to try them. They also have smaller ones, Nutella ones, and ones you can buy to take home. Since I am far from an Arepa Zone I recently stocked up on both tequeños and salsa de ajo, and you can too.
Visit or Skip:
If you love arepas, or just want to try something new, you should visit D.C.'s Arepa Zone. They also have locations in Northern Virginia, so if you are in the D.C. area it may be worth looking to see how close they are to you.
Arepa Zone is Hispanic/Latinx owned.