Rica Arepa: A Venezuelan delight

Arepas at the Rica Arepas Venezuelan Cafe. Photo Credit: Gisselle Vargas

By Gisselle Vargas ‘20

Located in the Hermosa neighborhood of Chicago, Rica Arepa cafe greets its customers with the colors of the Venezuelan flag: yellow, red, and blue. Along with its vibrant colors, the cafe has beautiful art and bilingual workers.

When I first entered the restaurant, I was welcomed by a waitress and handed a menu. After taking a look at it, I honestly felt a sense of confusion. When I was asked if I was ready to order, I informed my waitress that I have never had Venezuelan food before. Not only did she explain the menu and talked about the most popular foods, like the arepas, but she also made sure we were comfortable throughout our stay. The fact that the workers are bilingual adds to the level of comfortness and welcomeness.   

The walls that were painted yellow made the room stand out and the art made its walls entertaining to look at. The Latin music playing in the background fitted with the environment and feel of the cafe. As we waited for our food, I found myself  looking at the art on the walls. There were several pictures of islands, waterfalls, and beaches in Venezuela. Additionally, there was a board with Venezuelan sayings, which I thought was super creative. My favorite part, though, was a wall that was covered in Venezuelan dollars along with other dollar bills from Latin American countries like Uruguay. Because the dollars have no value in the United States, people taped them on the wall. This small action being done in the United States, though, shows how Venezuela is actually going through an economic crisis because of the immense inflation. Most of the bills hung up are worth less than a U.S dollar or have been replaced in Venezuela with another bill because the monetary system is constantly changing.

After enjoying the art, the food arrived. We all ordered arepas, which are common among Venezuelans, hence the name of the cafe. Arepas are made out of fried corn tortilla like bread and are stuffed with anything of your choice. I got the chicken and cheese arepa with a jugo de tamarindo. As a side dish, we got an order of cheese sticks but made with Venezuelan cheese. The food had lots of flavor to it and it was hot and read to eat!

Overall, I loved trying new food for a low cost, about $11 for my dish. The food did not take a long time, and the food tasted delicious. The people were really nice, and the place was not crowded, noting that I went in the afternoon. All the decorations in the cafe were essential and important because they added to the cafe’s livelihood and modern style that celebrated the Venezuelan culture.

  • Location: 4353 W. Armitage Ave Chicago, IL 60639
  • Phone number: (773)-543-3000
  • Does Catering/Delivery/Pick Up