Arepa is a South American patty made of cornmeal which can be grilled, baked or fried and usually topped or stuffed with cheese or meat. Other areas in Latin America have something similar; the El Salvadorian pupusa being the most familiar to me. So how good can arepas get? If you ask me, it’s all about the filling because I can’t tell if the dough was laboriously made or if a store-bought cornmeal was used. I like my arepas light but filling; go easy on the meat inside and you’ll make me frown.
Valencia Luncheria is very generous with their arepas. Between my friend and I, we ordered several arepas stuffed with pulled pork, shredded beef, chorizo, roast pork, chicken and cheese. Out of all of them, the pulled pork was probably the best, followed by the shredded beef which had some sweetness to the sauce. The spinach and cheese arepa was a godsend after all the meat and I wished I ordered more of it. The chorizo wasn’t moist enough–I ended up picking and eating them on their own. After my third, I was skipping the cornmeal and just eating the filling. We also ordered ceviche at a whopping $10 for a small cup and it lacked oomph in the seasoning department. I like my ceviche less on the tomato slush and more on the lime and cilantro flavor.
We went just in time before dinner rush began. A few groups were waiting for tables right by the counter when we left. With the downpour outside, everyone congregated in Valencia’s tight quarters. Apparently, it gets even more crowded on the weekends during brunch. There’s no beer or liquor for sale in the restaurant, but there is a deli a few stores down where you can buy to bring your own. Still, our bill for three people went up almost $70 and I think I was just stuffed more than I was satisfied.
Valencia Luncheria is at 172 Main Street in Norwalk, Connecticut. You can call 203/846.8009 to ask how long the wait is for brunch.