Are you an arepas fan? If so, you’re going to want to get over to the intersection of Curry Ford Road and Chickasaw Trail and try Naguará K’arepas.
If you’re not an arepas fan, you should also go here; you’ll soon be a fan.
If you’re not sure whether you’re a fan or not, it might be that you just aren’t familiar with them. Arepas are essentially little round corn cakes made with masarepa, a ground cornmeal. Think of a fatter type of tortilla or a South American version of a pita.
Like those devices, arepas can be stuffed sandwich-like with any variety of good fillings. They’re especially popular in Colombia and Venezuela, where they’re part of the daily diet.
Naguará’s menu is more Venezuelan. Despite a listing at the top of the menu for the “House Special Arepa,” a Tostada Larense with ham and cheese, the young woman who took my order at the counter of this small storefront eatery steered me away from it. Instead, she recommended the arepa with shredded beef. Who was I not to take her recommendation?
I also allowed her to choose the type of cheese to go with the beef. She recommended yellow, which is no more identified than that on the menu. Lettuce was also chosen as a topping.
It was a huge serving of beef, so much so that it seemed impossible that it was all stuffed inside one arepa. And in fact, a lot of the meat came spilling out — it’s pretty impossible to eat an arepa like this without getting a little messy. Just give in to it.
And sample the sauces that you’ll be given along with your arepa. They range from mild to very hot. I liked the garlic-cilantro sauce best. I liked everything about it, though I think next time I’d try the guayanes cheese or the queso blanco.
The young woman at the counter couldn’t have been lovelier. And I was also greeted warmly by other staffers, including someone I assumed was the chef, who would occasionally come out of the kitchen to check on things.
Naguará, by the way, is a Spanish exclamation, sort of a way of saying “wow,” which seems appropriate here.
It’s a pleasant space in a small strip mall (just around the corner from Pizzeria Roberti, which we also visited recently). It’s a little far out from downtown Orlando, but it’s not too far to drive for true arepas fans.
Naguará K’arepas is at 2751 S. Chickasaw Trail, Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday (closes early on Sundays). There is no website, but most of the arepas are $6.99. The phone number is 407-730-3057.