Who can resist such a culinary tease? Not us, so we decided to try it out one Saturday for lunch.
The staff here answered our questions patiently, and we had several, being unfamiliar with the menu. We wanted to start off with some empanadas, as they were stuffed with an interesting variety of fillings such as dogfish, shredded beef and banana, and chicken with yellow cheese. They had sold out, so instead we went with a couple of different starters: tostones and tequeños.
The tostones are fried plantains topped with shredded queso blanco and two different salsas, one green and one red. These were crunchy and flavorful, and the shredded cheese added a touch of creaminess. The red salsa, in particular, was sort of a miss in that it was too reminiscent of ketchup when sampled alone, but the mélange and interplay of the toppings did work together.
The tequeños were sort of their take on fried mozzarella sticks, consisting of four deep-fried pastry-wrapped fingerlings that had a smooth and creamy cheese center and were served with a fresh and lively aioli-style dipping sauce. So far, so good.
Our first main was a cachapas, which is a corn pancake that has many fillings from which to choose. We opted for the queso blanco y carne mechada, a corn pancake filled with white hand cheese and shredded beef. What is hand cheese, you ask? So did we. Queso de mano, as it’s properly (and more appetizingly) called, has the taste and consistency that most closely resembles mozzarella but is built up in layers. It is extremely chewy and stringy in the best way that cheese can be chewy and stringy. It was a perfect complement to the wonderful corn pancake, which was complex and flavorful. The moist and delicious shredded beef rounded it all out perfectly.
Next up was an arepa, which is a cornmeal cake that provides much the same function as a pita or tortilla. There are several fillings to choose from here as well, but we went with the Arepas Venesuela, as our server proclaimed that this was the best one on the menu. It consisted of shredded chicken, pork, avocado and cheese in the white corn cake. It filled both hands and was a challenge to eat since it was so large and messy, but that’s a feature, not a bug.
We wanted something to drink and inquired what the white juice at the counter was, and after much byplay and use of Google by both the server and ourselves, finally deduced that it was guanabana fruit juice. That clears that up, right? Well, the English name of the fruit is soursop. That also meant nothing to us. Whatever one calls it, it was refreshing, tasting a bit like pear nectar but not quite as sweet.
We will definitely be back to try some of their other dishes such as patacones, tripe soup, their lunch plates, a sampler platter (chicken, beef, and cheese cachapas, some tequeños, an arepa and empanada), their mixed grill plates, and of course, if lucky, some of their wonderfully sounding empanadas. If we’re up to it, we might even try to figure out what the yellow-colored juice is.
El Alrepazo 2661 Midway Road, No. 100 (Carrollton) 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday – Sunday (closed Tuesday)