My favorite food groups are arepas and plantains, in no particular order. There’s a lot happening in Tampa’s downtown food scene for sure, but there’s plenty popping in North Tampa to satiate even the most discerning palate. Recently, on a trip up to Busch Gardens I passed a spot that I couldn’t not stop at. Introducing The Arepa Marketplace Latin Cafe.
The space officially opened in February 2019, and the dining room is filled with the sweet smells of empanadas, cachapas, and arepas. The restaurant brings together the best of Venezuelan and Latin cuisine under one quaint roof.
Plantain sandwiches are on the menu
My gateway into the menu was the Patacon. A sensational sandwich which uses smashed, flattened plantains as buns. The deep fried plantain sandwich features fistfuls of delicious lechon. If there’s a better lunch in the city of Tampa, then I haven’t found it yet.
Tequeños is our new obsession. The Venezuelan fried bread spear is filled with queso blanco. Good luck just eating one basket. I could devour these things by the bucket.
Irresistible breakfast options
The Latin Breakfast is the absolute best way to start your day in the city of Tampa. Indulge in an arepa with shredded beef, scrambled eggs, sweet plantains, Paisa cheese and black beans.
Have you ever tried Salchipapa? The street food is my new go-to. It’s made with a hefty amount of French fries, a sliced up beef frank, pink sauce (a tasty mayo-chup mix), garlic sauce and Paisa cheese.
Huge selection of arepas on the menu
Diners can choose from about 11 different arepas. Options range from shredded beef and chicken, to Paisa cheese and black beans, and avocado stuffed varieties.
Do not, and I repeat DO NOT leave without trying the Cachapas. It’s a sweet corn pancake folded over a generous amount of cream cheese. It is divine, and you will want it for every meal every day after one taste.
Arepa Marketplace is located 11142 North 30th Street.