For all of the closings that have befallen the Las Vegas restaurant scene during the economic struggles of the past few years, Viva Las Arepas is a good news story, and one that is now getting better. What started as a cart in the parking lot of Dino’s on Las Vegas Boulevard South, has now expanded into a sit-down restaurant just a block up the strip (1600 block of Las Vegas Blvd South). It is a tribute to the quality of their product to make such an impression on the marketplace, and in truth it is a major bonus for the consumer – not only does eating standing up in the blazing sun go out of play, but because of they way they stuff their namesake product they did not travel all that well for home consumption. The restaurant features both tables and booths, after your order at the counter.
The Arepas are still the star of the show – overstuffed corn cakes that bring back fond memories for those of us that got to spend time exploring the culinary wonders of Venezuela. They are a fantastic value for the price points, and include about 33% more of the main ingredients than we remember from the streets of Caracas (Pernil and Black Beans & Cheese in the photos). But now a full-scale kitchen also means wood-grilled chicken as well, also at terrific price points (a whole chicken will only set you back $10.99). And a half rack of ribs with two sides goes for $8.99. And for as well balanced as the Arepas are, you can also dress up each bite with either a vibrant home-made hot sauce, or their garlic mayo (squeeze bottles of each on the table).
There is a lot of pride being put into this food, and it is nice to see the local restaurant tide coming in for a change, after so many others were swept away.