Ávila Arepa is an Urban Venezuelan eatery that specializes in arepas, a popular South American street food. They’re the first of casual Venezuelan fare in YEG and are located on Whyte Ave, between 108 and 107 street. Being on the quieter end of Whyte Ave, you might miss it if you aren’t keeping an eye out.. but definitely keep your eyes peeled because they’re worth checking out.
My short review – vibrant interior, friendly staff and great food. Ávila Arepa is unique to the Edmonton food scene and is an awesome pick if you’re looking to try something new that’s also quick and filling. As someone who has never tried Venezuelan food before, I can gladly say that this meal made me want to try more.
When you first step into the space, you’ll be greeted with colorful walls, vibrant decor and fun Latin music. We came on a gloomy day so it was pretty fun! There were decor pieces that added a nostalgic touch to the restaurant which made it feel more authentic for me. To order, you go up to the counter and then you’re given a number from which they will serve you at your table.
So, first things first – what are arepas? We were told that they are gluten-free, corn flour ‘cakes’ which were cut in the middle and filled with whatever you choose. Because they loaded with an abundance of toppings/fillings, I immediately thought of it as a healthier version of a pita, burger and taco, all in one.
The menu has a lot of variety which made it a little hard to decide what we wanted. There are the classic arepas which seem to come with one item inside, or the signature arepas which have a little more. There’s also a bunch of vegetarian and gluten free options.
After much debate, we ended up ordering two arepas – the Ávila and the Le Trinidad – as well as a side of the Cocheno Frito Bites.
Let’s talk about the arepas to start. Each arepa comes with a side of coleslaw salad, which helps balance out the savouriness in the rest of the meal. It was good but definitely not the stunner. One of the first thing that I noticed about the arepas was how there was so. much. cheese… like, A LOT. I usually love cheese but this was a little too much! I’d definitely ask for less cheese next time. Keep in mind that not all of the arepas have cheese though!
But, aside from the overload of cheese, the arepas were good. The arepas themselves were well cooked and the fillings were very fresh. You can tell that the food is made to order! All in all, what you see is what you get – there’s no surprises in the flavour.
The Ávila ($10.50) came with oven roasted pork, tomato, arugula and cheddar cheese. I thought that this arepa was missing a little something.. maybe a bit of crunch in the pork or some sauce? The meat itself was not dry or anything, it just lacked an extra kick or component that tied everything together. To make up for this, we actually used quite a bit of hot sauce with the arepa which was satisfying.
The Le Trinidad ($10.50), on the other hand, came with sirloin steak, arugula and cheddar cheese. I enjoyed the Le Trinidad arepa much more because it was juicy and more flavourful than the Ávila. However, I felt that there could’ve been a little extra something as well, maybe a sauce too perhaps? Regardless, I definitely enjoyed the combination of tender sirloin steak and fresh veggies over the roasted pork.
As a side dish, we got the Cochino Frito Bites ($8) which were essentially deep fried pork bites. This side dish was my favourite dish of the whole meal and it’s all because of the amazing dipping sauce that it came with. The sauce was made of cilantro, mayo, garlic and onion. The cilantro was the star of the show, which made it so delicious – unless you hate cilantro… For me though, I could dip everything in it! It may be one of my new favourite sauces. I actually put it on my arepas to make up for that missing component I mentioned before. It gave the perfect hint of freshness to the meal and especially to the deep fried pork bites which were already very well seasoned by themselves. The Cochino Frito bites were a great ‘sidekick’ to our lunch.
To conclude, I liked how the arepas were filling but not to the point where I felt bloated. If you don’t count the overload of cheese, the arepas can be pretty healthy I’d say, since you get your fair share of protein and/or veggies in there. The flavours are fresh and true to taste and the meal itself was the perfect portion for me. As a bonus, it all came at a decently cheap price too. I’d definitely consider coming back again. I’ve heard good things about their dessert and saw that there was arepas with chorizo or avocado (love avocados!) too, so I already have an idea of what I’d want to try next.
Service here was very friendly and welcoming which is always appreciated. We came a little earlier in the lunch hour so it was a bit quieter… but with their vibrant interior and delicious food, they’re the perfect pick-me-up meal and a great addition to the Whyte Ave area.
10760 82 Ave, Edmonton