What's the deal?
A two venue Venezuelan restaurant, offering a mix of traditional dishes from the homeland, and modern takes on classic ingredients. 'Making Britain fall in love with arepas' is their manifesto. It seems to be working — the small, buzzy terrace on Paradise Row's packed every time we've been.
What's the vibe?
The Venezuelan owned cantina — like their first branch along the canal in Haggerston — is friendly, informal, and good at loud group lunches. In an unlockeddown world, they occasionally host big, latenight parties.
Paradise Row, a little strip of under railway arch bars and restaurants, tucked next to Paradise Gardens. Nearest tube station's Bethnal Green, two minutes' walk — Bethnal Green overground station and Cambridge Heath station are five minutes away.
What's on the menu?
Despite the name — and that arepa focused manifesto — they're not a one trick pony. Dishes spotlight classic Venezuelan ingredients — starters include yuca fries, tequeños (fried cheese pastries), served with hypersweet guava jam, beef pastelitos (little, flaky turnovers) served with apple salsa verde, and several variations on plantain.
The larger dishes revolve around arepas — round cornbread — cachapas — a crunchy sweetcorn pancake — and rice bowls. The things they're stuffed with (the arepa), or topped with (the cachapa and rice bowl) are mostly the same across the three options — different combinations of shredded beef, fried chicken, black beans, avocado, with scatterings of chilli, cheese, olives, and red onions.
Vegetarian and vegan options?
Strong — actually, our favourite dishes on the menu are the vegetarian ones. The Del Campo — you can have it as an arepa or a cachapa — is black beans, avocado, plantains and cheese and vegetarian or not, we reckon the Cachapa Del Campo is the hero dish across the entire menu — the mix of textures, the freshness of the avocado with the chewy sweetness of the fried plantain, the crispy edges of the sweetcorn pancake (more of a chewy, lightly fried lattice than a fluffy dough job).
Most of the vegan options involve just getting a vegetarian dish without the cheese — and the staff are accommodating if you want to swap in certain things instead.
You're looking at just under £10 for a main, with small plates and desserts coming in about £5 to £6 — for a big meal with a beer or two and service you're probably looking at £35 a head, but you could get away with spending a lot less. The weekday lunch deal's a good way to get your cachapa hit on the cheap — £7.50 for a main, and a glass of homemade lemonade.
Yes. You can also collect for takeaway, which with Paradise Gardens next door is a great option for when you can't get a table.
Arepa and Co, 254 Paradise Row, E2 9LE.
Londonist visited anonymously, and paid for our meals.