Shachi’s (Finally) Brings Arepas in Midtown!
Arepas are something I look forward to eating when I head downtown or when I find myself in Brooklyn or Queens. But I never think about eating them in Midtown. I suppose the reason is that the Venezuelan/Colombian specialities are not easily available in this neck of the woods. That is until Shachi’s Arepas To-Go opened a few weeks ago. The NY Times just reported the opening this week, but the guy working the counter told me they’ve been there for more than a month already. How did we miss this? I guess it was slightly confusing because it seems this is the sister restaurant to one that recently closed in Williamsburg. And the website and Yelp reviews make it sound like this is a sit-down restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen that’s been around for years. Hm.
But the name of the restaurant speaks the truth – the joint is truly a take-out place with just one table off to the side. It’s a shame there’s not more seating options because the colorful walls and comfortable atmosphere beckons you to dine in. But alas, it’s not really possible. The menu consists of entrees, empanadas, and of course, arepas. The arepas range from the traditional, like chicken and avocado salad, to the unusual, like pesto, tomato, and cheese. They offer a few special takeout combos, but the only one within my budget was the Arepa/Soda/Empanada. If you want more than one arepa, you’re going to spend well over ten dollars.
So I stuck with the combo and found myself a seat elsewhere. The arepa I chose was the Pabellon with shredded beef, sweet plantains, black beans, and white cheese. It was much smaller and messier than the ones I’ve enjoyed downtown at Caracas Arepa Bar. The corn patty still had a nice grilled crisp and a rich, buttery mouthfeel. It was slightly dry, but the fillings made up for that – when they stayed put. With each bite, I’d lose more and more of the insides until I was resigned to use a fork. And it was quite tasty – the shredded beef was incredibly moist and I loved the sweet plantains and the salty white cheese. The black beans, however, seemed almost like an after thought. They were dry and bland and it felt like they were going to be a side dish that accidentally got stuffed inside with everything else.
My chicken empanada was a disappointment. The bright yellow batter resembled the exterior of a corn dog and it was much sweeter and greasier than the empanadas I’m used to. Could this be a different variation? The chicken filling inside was quite wet and made me think it was stuffed with chicken soup. And I don’t think they were going for a Venezuelan soup dumpling, although that sounds pretty darn good. It also came with two sauces – a bright tangy chimchurri sauce (that tasted fresher than it looked) and a hot sauce that had a little kick at first but mellowed out into the meal. They definitely added to the experience.
I can’t say I was completely satisfied with my meal here. I was satiated for a bit, but found myself hungry a lot earlier in the day than usual. Yet I can’t complain too much because we finally got some arepas in Midtown. And they’re pretty decent.
The + (What people who like this place would say)
- I’ve been trying to find arepas in Midtown forever
- Comfortable, clean setting
- Wide selection of fillings
- Open for breakfast
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The food is not quite filling enough
- No place to sit
- Not as good as Caracas
- Messy stuffings
- What’s with the weird empanadas?
Shachi’s “Arepas” To Go, 317 West 35th Street (btw. 8th+9th Ave.), 212-695-8884