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5 Things to Know About Hola Arepa, Opening Next Week

Beloved food truck Hola Arepa—known for its, well, arepas (Venezuelan cornmeal griddle cake sandwiches)—has always been one of the most popular and acclaimed food trucks in town. Now, co-owners and chefs Christina Nguyen and Birk Stefan Grudem are taking arepas to the next, brick n' mortar level, with the much-anticipated Hola Arepa restaurant slated to open to the public by late next week.

Eater spoke to Nguyen and Grudem (who were also just named Eater Young Gun semifinalists) about what to expect from the Hola Arepa brick n' mortar, from Nicaraguan small plates to brunch arepas to Dan Oskey's plans for the cocktail menu. Here's the lowdown.

1. The food. The brick n' mortar's menu will expand on the truck's offerings, with ten arepas on the regular menu plus an extra one or two arepa specials every day. There will also be a selection of small plates and salads, including the Nicaraguan dish vigoron: steamed yucca with citrus-cabbage dressing, pulled pork, and chicharrones (fried pork rinds).

2. Brunch. The restaurant will start with just dinner service, but will likely add weekend brunch in its second week. What will brunch look like? Think: brunch arepas, Venezuelan sweet corn pancakes called cachapas, and definitely, definitely some special brunch cocktails (housemade bloody mary mix, anyone?).

3. The space. The former El Paraiso space has gotten a full face-lift, with some of the labor (building the tables and refinishing the chairs) done by Grudem and Nguyen themselves. The overhaul includes polished concrete floors, reupholstered booths, new wall panelings, turquoise chairs, and tabletops made out of reclaimed barnwood. The space seats about 65 inside and 50 on the patio; perhaps most exciting, the restaurant will feature a big window open to the outside for walk-up window orders on any warm day from spring to fall.

4. The drinks. As Twin Cities cocktail mavens might know, Hola Arepa managed to lure acclaimed bartender Dan Oskey away from his longtime gig at St. Paul's The Strip Club Meat & Fish to head up their beverage program. The cocktails will feature Central and South American-inspired drinks (think lots of rum and pisco), mixed with housemade juices, bitters, and syrups.

5. The truck. Truck fans, never fear. The Hola Arepa truck will be back on the streets a couple weeks after the brick n' mortar's opening, serving up mobile arepas at all its usual haunts.
· All Coverage of Hola Arepa [Eater MPLS]

[Photo: Claire Stanford/EAMPLS]

Hola Arepa

3501 Nicollet Avenue, , MN 55408 (612) 345-5583 Visit Website

Hola Arepa

3501 Nicollet Ave. Minneapolis, MN