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35 Catt. 1: In re Arepa Zone

2015 February 19

Opinion of JUSTICE CATTLEYA, in chambers.

When I first spotted Arepa Zone (“AZ”) in a line of food trucks near the Ballston metro station, I was immediately curious to learn more. What was an arepa? What type of cuisine was it? How did one correctly pronounce “arepa”?

AZ bills itself as “the DMV’s first and only food truck serving authentic [V]enezuelan cuisine.” The menu helpfully explains that an arepa, pronouned ah-ray-pah, is a “grilled corn patty opened up to make a pocket, crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside” and stuffed with your choice of filling.

While AZ’s menu predominantly consists of, well, arepas – thirteen variations in total – it also serves cachapas. A cachapa is a “thick, sweet, and creamy corn pancake.” It is folded over and filled with various meat and cheese fillings. For this, AZ has four different filling combinations.

Street Food

How, oh how, did arepas and cachapas not make it on a food truck’s menu sooner? Arepas and cachapas were meant to be on a food truck’s menu. They are, in other words, street food, or “the kind[] . . . that can be [prepared] in front of you and [is] meant to be eaten with your hands, without forks, while standing up.” In re Eat Wonky, 2 Catt. 5 (2011). Similar to sandwiches, they are easy to eat on the go. See, e.g., In re Wassub, 13 Catt. 1 (2012); In re Borinquen Lunch Box, 10 Catt. 3 (2012); In re Rolling Ficelle, 6 Catt. 3 (2012) (cases finding sandwiches to be street food). They are also considered to be street food in countries where they are popularly eaten. For example, arepas are classic street food in Columbia. See In re Barbecue Cart at Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, 33 Catt. 1 (2014) (granting positive treatment to dishes that are considered to be street food in their countries of origin, like bratwurst in Germany).

Catira and La Clásica

With all signs pointing to a promising experience, I queued up in AZ’s line. Arepas and cachapas were, for me, something new. As I read through the various filling choices on the menu (“I want to try that. And that. That one, too!”), I planned second and third return visits even before taking my first bite.



Catira ($7.50). For my first arepa, I ordered the Catira, which was filled with shredded chicken and shredded cheddar cheese. It was served with a small container of guasacaca, a green sauce. All arepas also came with a small side item. Sides varied from visit to visit; I was given a cabbage and carrot slaw while my law clerk received a side of watermelon on a later date.

As AZ advertised, the grilled corn patty had a toasty texture on the outside and was soft on the inside. The shredded chicken filling, made with a sofrito sauce (typically garlic, onion, paprika, and tomatoes), was tasty on its own, but the flavor hit a high when topped off with AZ’s rich and creamy guasacaca. Usually made with avocado, onion, garlic, pepper, cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and olive oil, guasacaca is commonly described as the Venezuelan version of guacamole. After pouring the entire container of guasacaca over my arepa, I ate it with gusto, not even minding the drippings of the chicken’s sofrito sauce running messily down my hands.

La Clásica

La Clásica

La Clásica ($7.50). The classic cachapa was filled with a generous amount of queso de mano, a mild, soft cheese that reminded me of mozzarella. The sweet corn pancake surrounding it was similar in texture – soft and thick. While the first two bites of the cachapa were interesting – cheesy! sweet! fluffy! – the lack of variety in texture made the remaining bites monotonous.


AZ’s arepas and cachapas are a welcome, well-executed breath of fresh air to the food truck scene. While you might have to find the filling that matches your taste and texture preferences, there are plenty of choices to consider (think ingredients like ham, beef, chicken, black beans, plantains, tomato, and avocado), and eating your way through the menu to find your favorite will likely be a fun adventure. Find the truck at various locations in DC and Northern Virginia.

AFFIRMED. It is so ordered.

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