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Family-run restaurant featuring a broad variety of arepas and empanandas, plus Venezuelan specialties.

Our Review

Arepas, pudgy hand-formed griddled masa patties, are a staple in Venezuela and Colombia, where they're eaten solo, as an accompaniment to other foods, or split open and stuffed with whatever's on hand—arepas rellenas. At Aripo's, on the brick-cobbled section of Oak Park's Marion Street, owner Jose Rodriguez offers 19 versions of the stuffed form, from the La Nuestra ("Ours"), stuffed with pabelon, the Venezuelan national dish of shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains, and cheese, to the El Domino, named for the contrasting colors of black beans and crumbled white cheese, to the chicken-salad-and-avocado Reina Pepiada ("Voluptuous Queen"), named for Susana Duijm, the Venezuelan winner of the 1955 Miss World pageant. The La Peluda ("the Hairy") stuffed with shredded cheese, and its chicken variant, La Catira ("the Blondie"), both put up a fair amount of dental resistance, which put them at the opposite end of the textural spectrum from El Perico ("the Parrot"), an egg-vegetable-cheese scramble. One constant across the lineup is the crispy-chewy exterior of the arepas themselves, which gives way to a subdermal fluffiness that envelops and stabilizes the fillings. There are also empanadas as well as other little bites like tostones, fried yuca, and boliquesos, lightly sweet balls of deep-fried cornmeal dough, similar to hush puppies but with interiors of partly molten Venezuelan queso fresco and semiduro, a mild, medium-hard cheese. A handful of main plates and juices—including the tooth-cracking papelon con limon, made from sweet lime and piloncillo, a dark brown unrefined sugar—round out the menu. Aripo's is decorated to approximate a colonial Venezuelan home, with a front porch, vaulted ceilings, and traditional handicrafts and paintings on the walls.

Mike Sula

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Price: $
Payment Type: MasterCard, Visa, Discover

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