Get your fill of Venezuelan arepas

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La Guadalupana offers 13 varieties of Venezuelan arepas, which are grilled corn cakes stuffed with fillings such as shredded beef, chicken salad and vegetarian options. Photo by Tom McGovern La Guadalupana offers 13 varieties of Venezuelan arepas, which are grilled corn cakes stuffed with fillings such as shredded beef, chicken salad and vegetarian options. Photo by Tom McGovern

grilled corn cake opened up to make a pocket. Crunchy on the outside, moist on the inside. Filled with deliciousness.

This is how La Guadalupana, the Mexican grocery and deli at 221 Carlton Rd., describes its arepas, the latest addition to its deli menu. (It’s not just you; our mouths are watering, too.)

The grilled corn cakes are a culinary staple in both Colombia and Venezuela, though each country (and, really, each region of each country) prepares its arepas a bit differently. Colombian arepas tend to have a more pronounced sweet corn flavor profile and are typically eaten for breakfast, whereas Venezuelan arepas are more like sandwiches—fluffy corn cakes stuffed with all sorts of fillings.

La Guadalupana’s arepas are of the Venezuelan persuasion, says co-owner Veronica Torres, whose husband, Johan, is Venezuelan. As more and more Venezuelans seek asylum in the United States in hopes of escaping the violence and the economic and political strife that continues to worsen in the South American country, the Torreses thought it would be a good idea to introduce Charlottesville to this kind of cuisine. To their knowledge, La Guadalupana is the only area restaurant offering arepas right now (and you can get them delivered via UberEats).

There are 13 different arepas on the menu, including the carne mechada (shredded beef), the reina pepiada (chicken salad with avocado), pabellón (shredded beef, queso fresco, beans and sweet plantains) and a couple of different vegetarian options, all for $6.99. But for fans of La Guadalupana’s authentic Mexican cuisine prepared by a chef from Veracruz, Mexico, there’s no need to worry: The tacos, quesadillas, sopes and tortas are still on the menu.

Food on the fly

Firefly restaurant has opened a food truck, Firefly on the Fly. It can be found around town on the regular at Moxie Hair Salon, the Custom Ink office and Silver Lining Day Spa for weekday lunches, and on weekends at Craft Cville events at IX Art Park, as well as Random Row Brewery, Reason Beer, Castle Hill Cider and other local breweries, cideries and wineries. The menu includes burgers—hamburgers, No Bull veggie burgers, wild Alaskan salmon burgers—and a pulled pork sandwich, all for around $10, and a small variety of salads.

Cheers to that

As its name suggests, Know Good Beer & Bourbon, which holds its spring fest (there’s a winter one, too) on Saturday, May 12, at IX Art Park, is not just an opportunity to drink good beer and spirits—it’s a chance to get familiar with what you sip by chatting with the brewers and distillers themselves.

Brewers and brewing teams from local joints like Champion Brewing Company, Three Notch’d Brewing Company, South Street Brewery, Reason Beer, Devils Backbone Brewing Company and others, will be on hand to both serve and describe their beverages for guests. Festival founder Drew Craft is convinced that this personal aspect is what’s kept the festival going for five years, outlasting another, similar local event, Top of the Hops.

And the festival now includes distilleries, too, with appearances by local makers Vitae Spirits, Virginia Distillery Company and Silverback Distillery, plus Chesapeake Bay Distillery, Richmond-based Belle Isle Moonshine and Belmont Farm Distillery out of Culpeper, as well as an appearance by Chuck McCauley, who makes small batches of bourbon whiskey out of his licensed home distillery.

And while Know Good Beer & Bourbon is focused on knowing good booze, it’s about doing a bit of good in the world, too: Part of the festival proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House charity, which supports programs focused on the health and well-being of children.

Devils Backbone gets into the spirits

Devils Backbone Brewing Company has opened a distillery, Devils Backbone Distilling Co., adjacent to the company’s brewpub in Roseland. Mountain Cane Silver Rum is the distillery’s first release, with spirits such as Nelly’s Apple Brandy and Virginia Pine Gin to follow in the near future.

New chef at Wintergreen

The Devils Grill Restaurant at Devils Knob in Wintergreen has opened for the season under the direction of a new chef, Edwin M. Schölly. Schölly, who most recently was executive chef at Baltimore Eagle restaurant in Maryland, was a guest chef at the White House for 24 years. He won a James Beard Award in 2011 and was named German Master Chef of the Year in 1996.

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