Dear Mr. Gold:
I am looking to try traditional Venezuelan arepas but am finding it difficult in L.A. I know that Colombians have their own version, but the Venezuelan version is the best known (and best stuffed). Any idea where I can get one in the L.A. area?
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Colombian arepas — thick, griddle-cooked corn cakes — can be pretty good, especially if you luck into one of the freshly made ones, still crisp and oozing salty white cheese. Godhead. But there are a couple of cafés in town serving the Venezuelan kind, and while I would recommend neither for its general cuisine, the arepas are just fine: Café Bolivar on 1741 Ocean Park Boulevard in Santa Monica (310-581-2344), which is more or less a sandwich joint that happens to serve arepas, and the fancier, coffee-intensive Coupa Café, at 419 N. Canon Drive in Beverly Hills (310-385-0420). Both places are a little unconventional, but they stuff arepas with things like goat cheese, chicken salad and Venezuelan beef stew.
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