Cheap Eats 2016: Cafe Azul–Caracas de Ayer

Cheap Eats 2016: Cafe Azul–Caracas de Ayer
Arepas from Cafe Azul–Caracas de Ayer. Photo by Scott Suchman.
Extra-Cheap Best for Carryout No Alcohol

For the uninitiated, an arepa is a handheld street snack popular in Venezuela. Imagine a palm-size pita made not with flour but with ground white corn, which is cooked on the griddle until the edges turn crispy, then stuffed with a variety of fillings. Arepas have caught on in DC over the past few years, from food trucks to three-star restaurants, and this tiny cafe, run by husband and wife Mickey Torrealba and Monica Serrano, arguably makes the best. The simplest version, with creamy black beans and a thick slice of queso de mano—which has the saltiness of feta but a richer character—is sublime.

Also good: Chicken-and-avocado arepa; beef-black-beans-and-cheese arepa; cachapas (savory pancakes) with queso de mano or queso and ham.

See what other restaurants made our 2016 Cheap Eats list. This article appears in our May 2016 issue of Washingtonian.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.