The arepas are divine in this family-run restaurant. We like the pork, but vegetarians will be happy too. The Vegetariana is a corn arepa filled with cheeses, plantains, avocado, and tomato.
It’s easy to forget Bushwick’s Latin American influence when surrounded by yoga studios and artisanal coffee shops. But if you want food that speaks to the neighborhood’s history, head to Arepera Guacuco, a lively, family-run Venezuelan restaurant serving food so fresh and flavorful you’ll think you’ve just traveled to South America — all without leaving Brooklyn. You’re here for the arepas, of course, which are small patties made from ground corn and stuffed with fillings like sweet plantains, black beans, and different kinds of meat. The dish dates back to the indigenous people of Venezuela, and even though Arepera Guacuco hasn’t been around for decades, the arepas don’t taste like some Bushwick-ified, ready-for-Instagram take on the traditional — these are real arepas.
Like Le Garage, Arepera Guacuco is an intergenerational affair. This time it was the son, Leonard Molina, who convinced his mother, Carmen, to move from Margarita Island, off the coast of Venezuela, to New York and to bring her traditional recipes along. Among them is the arepa pabellón, an old chestnut of Venezuelan cooking; here the pabellón has reached ideal form, the crust crunchy, the beef inside soft, the plantains sweet, and the beans touched by vinegar. The arepas are served fast and fresh at the crowded and slightly chaotic restaurant, but the rest of the menu – including B-sides like pabellón oriental, in which fish stands for beef, and a grilled garlicky king fish — is worth exploration too.