To start off my series of restaurant recommendations I will tell you about one of my favorite places close to home, by that I mean close to my physical home in east London. Arepa & Co is a venezuelan arepera serving traditional food in a contemporary and very colourful environment. Situated by the canal just a couple of minutes walk away from Haggerston station you can see the canal boats passing by as you enjoy your meal.
Arepa & Co offer arepas which are a bit like pitta bread but made out of corn flour and with a crispier texture. For now the flour the arepas are made with might contain traces of gluten as the factory it is produced in produces other flours but I was told that in March next year it will be completely free from any gluten!
The arepas come with a variety of fillings just like their cachapas which are pancakes, however these are not vegan. I guess this is the time to mention that this is not a solely vegan restaurant but why I love it is because they offer choices and allow you to alter their menu to fit your personal needs and wishes.
The menu extends further than these two corn meal based dishes with a more choices for vegans, veggies and gluten frees. There is black beans and rice, cassava chips (yuca), a heart of palm salad with avocado and plantains. Quite a bit of choice I think and one can order a few dishes to share for a venezuelan feast!
So to my favourites. My favorite arepa is a “Jardinera” which is filled with roasted veg and usually goats cheese but I swap the cheese for plantains and it’s delicious. The staff are very accomodating and friendly when it comes to altering so dont be shy. My second favorite arepa is the “Mulata” that is filled with warm blackbeans and plantains (as well as cheddar which I ask the waiting staff to leave out).
Along with the arepa I love to share some cassava chips and/or the palm of heart salad with my company. The cassava chips come with a mayonnaise but I ask for guacamole instead or their fantastic avo and veg dressing (also used to drench my arepa) which comes complimentary with the meal. And don’t forget the chilli oil! To finish of what I started, back to the sides. Cassava is a root which is indigenous to South America and lends itself very well to chip making, it comes out a bit sweet and crispy. The salad is super light with lots of leaves, some tomatoes, avocado and the best part the heart of palm which is something fun and different to what most of us have at home.
To drink Arepa & Co offer freshly made guava, passion fruit and mango juices which you can mix as you like. I love this and always mix all three which makes a vibrant exotic blend. They also serve a sugar cane lemonade which is a nice treat. For those of you who drink alcohol this is the place to come for rum cocktails! Unfortunately the only beer they serve is sol which isn’t vegan nor gluten free but I don’t think you’ll miss your beer with all the other lovely drinks on offer. There is also coffee from nude espresso and some (not so vegan or gluten free) cake.