La Latina opened up recently close to my neighborhood and very close to my work’s office. I definitely wanted to check it out since I’d never had Venezuelan food technically. In looking at its menu online it looked very similar to Colombian food with the arepas, but I wanted to check it out nonetheless- new restaurant, proximity, and seeing how it compared to Colombian (which I really enjoy). What really sold me was that looking at it website I saw “the corn flour is 100% gluten-free”!. For full disclosure when I’ve eaten Colombian arepas at La Moon or Munchies I’ve never actually asked if they’re gluten-free (partially out of laziness, but also true arepas are supposed to be all corn and I’ve never had a reaction. I’m not always the best gluten-free…..).I nonetheless thought it was really cool to find that listed on La Latina’s website!
I stopped by to get some take-out today and found a small laid back restaurant of several tables and a counter at the front to order from. The menu like I mentioned is similar to Colombian restaurants I’ve been to, but without the hot dogs. There were a variety of typical fillings like beef, chicken, and pork with or without cheese. I got two arepas- a shredded beef with cheese and the “Domino,” which was black beans and cheese (for Portlanders it sounded just like my favorite corn tortillas as a kid at the long-gone Mocheezmo Mouse so I had to get it). I was given a choice of cheese- a gouda and one that I missed the name but is a salty cheese. I chose the second one randomly.
The food came quickly and I took it home to enjoy. A few differences I noticed between the arepas at La Latina and what I’ve tried at Colombian restaurants I’ve been to (whether it’s a cultural or simple restaurant difference I’m not sure)- the arepa was softer and was actually one arepa stuffed with the meats and beans, while the other restaurants put the meat in-between two arepas. I enjoyed both of these differences, especially having the arepa be softer, but I also liked that there didn’t seem to be too much arepa. Both were really delicious. The cheese was salty and soft, almost a “squishy,” texture, but it complemented the meat and beans really well. A few other things listed on the menu (found here- http://www.lalatinamiami.com/) to try out are the gluten-free mini arepitas (little balls of arepas) and boliararepitas (the little arepa balls stuffed with cheese), as well as chachapas, which are sweet corn pancakes with cheese. There also is a beef or chicken dish served with plantains and black beans and rice. For the non gluten-frees there are several different kinds of empanadas to try and tequenos, which are little balls of dough stuffed with cheese.
I’d certainly recommend La Latina for gluten-frees craving a “sandwich”-like thing as well as any interested in trying Venezuelan food or really good arepas and am planning to go back soon!
UPDATE: Have now put some way better pictures than I’ve had before. We’ve ordered La Latina often at work and it never disappoints. A new favorite is the cachapa, which is sweet corn pancake that’s larger than an arepa. It comes with cheese inside and you can add meat. You can never go wrong with La Latina!
La Latina- 3509 NE 2nd Ave (on 2nd St right before 36th in that building of small businesses. I parked across 2nd St in the gravel parking lot)