A cool Latin American restaurant specializing in Venezuelan-style corn cakes is opening two locations in North Texas, one in Dallas and one in Frisco. The restaurant is called Arepa TX, and stars a chef who is also a popular online personality.
Executive chef is Mary Ann Allen, also known as the Frugal Chef, who has a website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel where she offers tips and humor on budget-friendly, healthful eating. She grew up in Bolivia and created the menu for Arepa TX based on her travels and culinary experience.
She's opened Arepa TX with her family, including her son and daughter-in-law, Susana Arce.
The Dallas branch will open in late summer at 5940 Royal Ln., at the corner of Preston Road. But if you must try their arepas right now, as well you should, the Frisco branch opened at the beginning of April, at the bustling Shops at Starwood at 6959 Lebanon Rd.
Arepas are the satisfying corn cakes with a pocket inside, which you can stuff with fillings such as meat, cheese, avocado, and eggs; they've been described as corn meal English muffins. Dallas has a couple of places that serve them, such as La Duni and Zaguan Latin Cafe.
Arepa TX takes a gourmet approach, stuffing them with a mix of meats, cheeses, and sauces that represent various countries and regions. The menu is a fusion delight, featuring arepas stuffed with smoked brisket, pulled pork, fried chicken and maple, avocado BLT, and banh mi chicken.
They also cover that all-important vegetarian and vegan category with options such as Brie cheese and chutney; rajas, zucchini, and corn; and the vegan favorite, barbecued jackfruit, whose texture is miraculously meaty.
In addition to arepas, the restaurant's other specialty is artisanal frozen custard gourmet pops, which they make in versions with cream and without.
They serve soups, salads such as greens with avocado, and Latin American dishes such as jicama with chili and lime, and fried yucca served with chimichurri sauce. Their drinks selection includes a cute "bubbly bar" of cocktails made with sparkling wine, such as the French 75, containin sparkling wine, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon bitters.
Arce is a former wine buyer who was based in New York. She and her husband moved to Texas when he got a job in Dallas. They persuaded Allen to join them and launch this venture. The Frisco location is a new building; in Dallas, they're going into the space previously occupied by Natalie's.
"We all love arepas and feel like we are doing something that you can't find anywhere else," Arce says.