Arepa Zone Opens in Union Market
Food truck Arepa Zone opened its new stall at Union Market, 1309 Fifth St. NE, on Saturday in the stall previously occupied by RIS restaurant.
The Venezuelan eatery is owned by Gabriela Febres and her fiancé Ali Arellano. They won this year’s Launch Pad competition to identify and lunch promising new culinary concepts sponsored by Union Market, Mess Hall and RIS. The food truck beat out four other finalists to win six-12 months of free rent, however they must still pay Union Market 10 percent of their sales. The initial lease is for six months with an option for another six months, Febres said.
Most of the equipment was included in the stall, although Febres said they added a deep fryer and a larger grill to cook the arepas on. Still, the tiny stall is huge compared to the truck, she said, and will be staffed with three employees during the week and four on weekends.
The stall will serve more than a dozen arepas, Venezuelan grilled and stuffed corn patties made with Harina P.A.N., pre-cooked white maize meal. The corn cakes are sliced into a pocket and stuffed with meats, cheeses and other fillings. Many of the arepas will be the same as those served on the food truck, such as the Pelúa with shredded beef and shredded yellow cheese, the Catira with shredded chicken and shredded yellow cheese, the Sifrina with chicken salad, avocado and shredded cheddar cheese and the Pabellón with shredded beef, shredded queso fresco, sweet plantains and black beans.
Other offerings include quesadilla-like sweet corn crepes called cachapas, which are made with sweet yellow corn and filled with cheese, ham and cheese, shredded chicken and cheese or shredded beef and cheese. There will also be tequeños, delicious gourmet cheese sticks served with a garlic-cilantro dipping sauce. Desserts include rice pudding and Venezuelan flan.
Febres said there will be some new items added to the menu as well, including a pork shoulder arepa and a Pabellón bowl with rice, beans, sweet plantains and shredded beef. There will also be papelón con limón, a refreshing drink made with brown cane sugar and lemon juice. Arepea Zone’s Union Market stall will also sell some items from Mess Hall tenants,
Prices for arepas range from $6 to $8.50; chchapas are $7.50-$9; and tequeños are $6.50 for five. Arepa Zone’s stall at Union Market will be open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. It will be closed Monday along with the rest of Union Market’s vendors.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.