Viva Las Arepas | Venezuelan Wood Grilled Meats at their Best

Review by: Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

Meats Beyond Arepas

To call this restaurant merely an arepas place sells it short. Viva Las Arepas makes some of the finest Venezuelan wood grilled meats anywhere. You can have a great meal here without even exploring the arepas menu. Mesquite smoke deeply infuses the meat and makes it more robust than in many highly-regarded BBQs. This place is one of Las Vegas’ hidden gems.

The Venezuelan wood grilled meats include chicken that reveals charred corners and a pink smoke ring. It comes with black beans that are halfway between whole and refried. They remind us of tropical charro beans, smoky and meaty.

Signature Arepas

A grilled beef arepa comes stretched wide, full of carne asada-like chunks of beef. Only iceberg lettuce and slices of tomato adorn it. It almost impersonates a backyard BBQ burger, especially when you added a squirt of mayonnaise-based cilantro-avocado sauce. The Rubenesque street-cart style reina pepiada (curvy queen) arepa presents the chicken fully dressed in this green mayo. It looks like chicken salad, but the smoky flavor takes this chicken to new heights. When hostile hot weather overwhelms Las Vegas, this cold sandwich finds special welcome.

They make the white corn arepas themselves crunchy on the outside and doughy in the middle. Unlike corn bread, they serve as a more bun-like vehicle for rich fillings. Those seeking a more corn-flavored experience should go for the cachapa. Sweet yellow corn studded with fresh corn kernels delivers earthier satisfaction. It’s especially good filled with soft mozzarella-like cheese and salty farmer’s cheese similar to Cotija. You’d expect to find this sweet, salty, gooey pocket at a street fair arepa cart. But this fresh version will ruin those greasy abominations forevermore

Sweet Things, Too

The less peckish can avail themselves of a few smaller fried snacks, such as oniony empanadas fried to a crisp. Desserts include a coconut and cheese pastelito. It reminds us of a beignet filled with soft, sweet cheese and shredded coconut. It is a donut to remember. But like all the food here, it is large and starchy and demands a very healthy appetite.

What To Eat

Wood Fire Beef Arepa

Reina Pepiada Arepa

Wood Fire Chicken with Black Beans


Beef Empanada

Coconut Cheese Pastelito


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