Though Montreal is one of the richest and most varied culinary landscapes in Canada, “ethnic” restaurants often seem like one-dimensional copycats. If you’ve had Portuguese chicken, you’ve had Portuguese chicken. There are definitely restaurants that stand out against the crowd, though often in desperate pursuit of authenticity. Give me authentic, but give me something surprising, memorable and goddamn delicious.
Give me Arepera du Plateau.
Venezuelan food is still but a tiny blip on Montreal’s radar. Marked by European influences, African and Native American traditions, it can be difficult to introduce newcomers to the bold flavours. Arepera’s skilled kitchen staff and laidback atmosphere feel as welcoming as a home-cooked meal and deliver the TLC you’d expect from your own mama.
The menu — carnivorous, veggie or full-blown vegan — is nothing short of a showstopper. An arepa, where the joint gets its name from, is an unleavened patty made from cornmeal, generously stuffed with local delicacies. Arepera, a hop, skip and a jump away from Venezuela itself, keeps its menu true to taste: boar chorizo, stewed beef or a creamy combination of avocado and chicken. Most arepas are around eight bucks, so feel free to take risks, revisit, remix your order – and dare friends to try the minced shark.
As an alcohol-free establishment, Arepera offers four kinds of fresh juices that’ll get you drunk off blissful hydration. While the service can be a bit iffy and some of the soups lackluster, Arepera brings together one of the most casual and rewarding eating experiences in the city. Perfect for lunch or dinner, be sure to stop in next time you’re bumming around the Plateau — hungry or not, it will find place in your heart.
4050 de Bullion
Image courtesy of Arepera du Plateau.