It was hot and steamy yesterday, what better way to celebrate one of the final 90+ degree days of summer than to eat at one of the hottest food trucks in Minneapolis, Hola Arepa. The Latin street food sensation, Hola Arepa has been recommended to me by several people and has been on my radar for the entire summer. Unfortunately while people were happy to tell me their food was great, they neglected to mention they have some of the most forward looking street food available in downtown Minneapolis to date.
Hola Arepa serves several variations of a stuffed corn-based dough sandwich known as an “arepa”. They tout their arepas as being vegan and gluten free which is a big draw for many. Me? I loved that they are proud to offer local and sustainable ingredients when they can and proudly use Fischer Farms pork and Kadejan chicken. While this normally wouldn’t be a big deal being that it’s a food truck in Minneapolis, once you take a look at the prices on their menu, you’ll realize what a great deal it really is. Seriously with an average price under $6, Hola Arepa is an absolute steal.
We arrived around 11:30 and found the truck with no where near the line length that accumulates at any number of other trucks around the city at that hour. We looked over the menu board and placed our orders. One coworker ordered the Cuban Arepa (Fischer Farms roasted pork, ham, Swiss, pickles, mustard and jalapeno-herb aioli) for $7. Another ordered the Pulled Chicken Arepa (Kadejan Farms chicken, beans, tomatoes, salsa verde, and pickled cabbage) for $5. I nabbed the Pulled Pork Arepa (Fischer Farms pork, black beans, cotija cheese, and special sauce) for $6 as well as a basket of chips and salsa for $2. We also ordered a Pineapple Jarritos (only flavor they have), a cucumber lemonade ($2) and an Arne Palmer ($2) to drink.
Our orders were up quickly and were served simply enough in paper boats with nothing except what the menu promised. The sandwiches were presented in a way which was above average for street food in Minneapolis but, as expected, nothing fancy. They were individually wrapped in paper and were begging to be doused with one of the four sauces available.
We walked a half a block away and sat down on stone benches to eat. My Pulled Pork Arepa was tasty but as a recent Urbanspoon reviewer mentioned, the sandwiches are super messy and aren’t really well suited for people working downtown all dressed up. After the first bite sent a rocket of pulled pork, juice, and some “XXX hot” salsa (it was actually pretty darn spicy!) through the back end of the arepa onto the sidewalk in front of me I swore out loud and picked up a large pile of the pork and ate it anyway–I live by the five second rule, deal with it. Overall the sandwich was a good one. Not a great one but a good one solely because the meat itself lacked any real flavor. Much like Rosemount’s Las Tortillas, it really needed something extra to fight through the powerful taste of the arepa. If they got that down the Pulled Pork Arepa would be phenomenal.
While my arepa needed some work, my coworker’s Cuban Arepa was nothing short of spectacular. Only allowing me a small taste, it was not nearly as good as the famed torta at the temporarily homeless Tacolmeca but in the traditional Cuban sense it was nearly spot on. The pickles and mustard were beautiful and while the arepa was again a bit powerful for the sandwich, the ham and pork worked really well to pull it all together with the cheese. I must admit that the $7 price tag when compared to the other sandwiches was a bit concerning but after just that little taste it was well worth it–and possibly two or three more. If you’re downtown and you see the baby blue truck idling along the side of the road start running towards it and order the Cuban, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised as just how good it is.
The pulled chicken sandwich, one I didn’t try myself, apparently also suffered from a lack of flavor in the meat but as I understand it the arepa was quite good. For $5 it is simply a steal when you look at other downtown offerings, especially food trucks. If you’re looking for an inexpensive and filling meal, this one might be it.
While we were impressed with the sandwiches, the drinks were a little strange. The cucumber lemonade was more cucumber than lemonade and my coworker noted on two different occasions that it was “weird”. Apparently the Arne Palmer, with mostly pink lemonade due to it’s bright pink color, suffered from some weirdness but carried an interesting hint of strawberry as well. While I’d prefer flavors other than pineapple Jarritos, the woman at the counter noted that they had limited space in the truck and that’s what they could have. No complaints but be forewarned that you may be stuck with pineapple, Mexican Coke or some crazy homemade concoction and you may want to bring your own with you.
Overall I’d definitely recommend you check out Hola Arepa the next time you’re craving some street food. They definitely have some inventive sandwiches and with a little work they definitely could compete with the big boys just down the street. If you’re looking for some decidedly different and inexpensive as can be for Downtown, I highly suggest you get over to their Twitter page and find out their currentl location (they were between 9th and 10th on Marquette when we visited) and get over there to try out an arepa for yourself.
Have you ever eaten at Hola Arepa? If so what did you think? What did you order and would you order it again in the future? Have you tried any of the other food trucks either in Minneapolis or St. Paul? Do you think there should be more or are there too many to choose from already? Whatever you have to say about Hola Arepa go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Hola Arepa Food Truck (check Twitter for updates)
Between 9th and 10th on Marquette
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Monday – Friday: 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Sunday: 11:30 AM – 3:30 PM (Uptown Market)
See all the pictures from Hola Arepa on Flickr here.