First Look: Arepa Mia, Decatur

In 2012, Lis Hernandez, a native of Venezuela, opened Arepa Mia in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market, where her motto is “Happy Stomach/Warm Heart” and her authentic Venezuelan arepa sandwiches have become a big hit. Now, Hernandez has a second place in Decatur that promises to be every bit as popular.

The look: The narrow storefront space on East College Avenue near Agnes Scott is cheerfully decorated in red and white. Order at the counter, take a heart-shaped number, and peruse the Venezuelan folkloric displays of children’s toys, photographs and traditional textiles.

The scene: On a recent Sunday afternoon, there was a steady line at the counter, where a cheerful server was eager to explain the menu options. Around the dining room, most seats were filled, and the conversation was lively, as busy food runners kept orders moving from the kitchen.

The food: The signature arepa ($6.50-$9.50) is a cornmeal cake, split in half and stuffed with a variety of meats, veggies, cheese, and other goodies, with many ingredients sourced from Georgia farms. The Sifrina arepa ($8.50) is shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, avocado, guayanes cheese and fried sweet plantains. Other Venezuelan favorites include empanadas, and cachapas, a grilled corn cake topped with the likes of roasted pork with mojo sauce. Sides ($3-$4) include Venezuelan-style organic black beans and shaved yucca and plantain chips.

The drinks: On the beverage menu ($2-$4.75), look for organic drip coffee, fresh-squeezed organic orange juice, bottled tropical sodas, and housemade papelon con limon, a Venezuelan drink made from concentrated sugar cane and fresh limes.

The extras: From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Sundays, you’ll find a special brunch menu with the likes of Venezuelan-style scrambled eggs with tomato and onion ($12) and a ham, egg and cheese cachapa ($13).

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