Durham is now the proud home of the new location of Guasaca, a Venezuelan arepa restaurant. Guasaca’s flagship restaurant is in Raleigh, but recently a second store opened in the Erwin Square Plaza. If any of you are like me, you have no idea what an arepa is. Essentially, it’s a pita made out of corn. It is extremely popular in Venezuela, and is gaining fame in the triangle region by the second.
Since the Durham location opened a few weeks ago, I’ve been more than my fair share of times.
The employees are enthusiastic and ready to explain how things work. First, you select one of their signature arepas OR to make your own bowl, salad, or arepa. To create your own, you pick from a variety of ingredients: rice, beans (black or pinto), caramelized onions, corn, and cheese, to name a few. Definitely go for the plantains – they bring the dish to a whole new level, adding some sweet contrast to your savory dish.
Next, you pick a protein: shredded or grilled chicken or beef, avocado chicken, or tilapia for the pescatarians among us. Then you can select from the array of salsas and sauces. Last but not least, add the title ingredient: the guasaca. Think of guasaca as a guacamole-ish dip, with more vegetables and more flavor. It. Is. Incredible. (And well worth the extra charge.)
#SpoonTip: ask for a free sample of guasaca. If you like it, order it on the side – you’ll get a much larger serving.
Now, I know what you might be thinking… doesn’t this sound rather familiar? Perhaps like a certain well-known Mexican grill? While Chipotle and Guasaca follow similar models, they have distinct variations in taste. Chipotle is classic. We all love a good ‘potle meal, and know our signature orders like the backs of our hands. Guasaca, however, has a variety of flavors that give it a more cultural feel. Guasaca’s ingredients taste so fresh. I spoke with manager and he told me that almost all the ingredients are made right there. With Chipotle’s recent E coli scare, might as well check out the newest addition to Durham’s food scene.
If you won’t take my word for it, here’s what other Duke students are saying:
“The unique options – like tilapia, plantains, and chunky guasaca – created an interesting and unique flavor profile.”
“The arepa is a must try for first-timers.”
“It’s such a nice new option to have in town!”
“The flavors are great and the people were really nice and excited to share Venezuelan food with new customers.”
If all of this didn’t entice you enough, Guasaca is currently having a promo for Duke students: get a free arepa by putting down your email address. There’s only one thing left to do – check it out for yourself. ¡Adiós!