Amaizing Arepa Bar is bringing Venezuelan specialties to downtown St. Louis this winter
Amaizing Cakes Latin Food, a Tower Grove Farmers’ Market vendor since 2019, will open a brick-and-mortar under the name Amaizing Arepa Bar at 500 N. 14th St. in downtown St. Louis this winter. The restaurant will expand upon its current menu featured at various markets and events throughout St. Louis, as reported by Feast Magazine.
For owner Mayra Pacheco, bringing the culture from her home country of Venezuela to St. Louis has always been of the utmost importance. In Venezuela, arepas – a round, flat cornmeal cake – are a staple meal. “Arepas can be eaten for breakfast if you stuff them with scrambled eggs and veggies,” said Pacheco. “You can also eat them for lunch if you change the filling to shredded beef or chicken.”
At Amaizing Arepa Bar, guests will have the option to customize their arepas, choosing from a wide range of proteins, vegetables and sauces. Additionally, there will be a selection of pre-created arepas for purchase. Pacheco also plans to bring in other Venezuelan specialties such as patacones (similar to a sandwich but with fried green plantains in place of bread), empanadas, cachapas (sweet corn pancakes), tequenos (rolled cheese sticks) and new items such as pasticho (Venezuelan-style lasagna). Regarding ingredients, most are sourced locally in St. Louis and from international food stores. However, one important ingredient deserves special attention. “Cheese will start being brought in from Miami due to the large population of Venezuelans there,” Pacheco said. Typically, Venezuelan cheese is a soft, white cheese that most closely resembles mozzarella in terms of taste and consistency; it is a vital element when assembling Venezuelan specialties like arepas and cachapas. Pacheco explained that guests will have the option to choose between two cheeses at different price points.
As far as desserts go, Amaizing Arepa Bar features four different options. The tres leches cake, which is popular throughout Latin America, is a sponge cake soaked in three different kinds of milk: evaporated, condensed and whole milk. The marquesa is a version of chocolate cake made with layers of honey grahams and chocolate mousse. This no-bake dessert is a Venezuelan-style tiramisu with hints of cocoa and espresso. Additionally, they offer quesillo (Venezuelan flan) and churros. In terms of beverages, Amaizing Arepa Bar serves various kinds of Venezuelan juices and sodas. “We have a bar that offers natural juices,” Pacheco said. “Two in particular that we sell almost every week are a lemonade with raw sugar, and a passion fruit juice, which is easily the most popular.” They also have Venezuelan sodas such as malta, which closely resembles root beer with more sweetness, as well as Frescolita, which is similar to red cream soda.
The restaurant offers a spacious open concept with a rustic feel. “The vibes are very industrial with lots of metal and bricks,” Pacheco said. Amaizing Arepa Bar can accommodate approximately 75 guests and aims to cater to the accelerated pace around the area during the work week. Arepas are ideal to grab and go for busy employees who don’t have time to sit down; however, Pacheco also wants to provide a top-tier dine-in experience. Although the industrial feel is something Pacheco plans to showcase, she doesn’t want to forget where they come from. “We are going to try to preserve that industrial vibe while bringing some elements of Venezuelan culture,” said Pacheco. “The food is not the only thing we want to share from our country. We have a unique environment in Venezuela with lots of beauty we want to share with everyone through our restaurant.” The space represents two places that inspired the creation of Amaizing Arepa Bar: It holds the industrial, rustic feel of St. Louis city while having some warm elements of Venezuelan culture and beauty woven throughout.
Amaizing Arepa Bar aims to be open for business by mid-December. It will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and offer a weekend brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Amaizing Cakes Latin Food will still be serving at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market through the end of the regular season. Follow Amaizing Cakes on Instagram and check out the Amaizing Cakes Latin Food website for updates on Amaizing Arepa Bar and where to find Amaizing Cakes at events around the St. Louis area.
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