Last week I ate what felt like all of the arepas. I took my little brother to Hola Arepa while he was visiting, I met a coworker for lunch at Arepa Bite in Moundsview, and I capped off the week in my own backyard at Cafe Racer Kitchen.
Cafe Racer Kitchen, the brick and mortar of the Cafe Racer food truck, expands on the arepa sandwich and/or filling + sides model of the truck by presenting elevated yet homey dishes inspired by Latin American street food.
That said, I immediately ordered the poutine.
Yucca frita is topped with pulled pork gravy, arepa “curds”, peppers, aioli, and queso. The pork was tender and flavorful, the yucca firm yet yielding, and the arepa curds were little dumpling pockets of corn goodness. The gravy was more like a broth, and a rather salty one at that.
Having never experienced the food truck, I felt like I should order an arepa. You know, for science.
Cafe Racer and Cafe Racer Kitchen serve their arepas open faced, which differs from both Hola Arepa and Arepa Bite. In terms of the actual arepa, Cafe Racer’s are my favorite because they are the most like a corn fritter. They are crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, and are a little sweet. It is sort of like eating a cornbread pancake.
The pulled pork appeared to be the same from the poutine. Very good, very tender, but maybe a hair bland now that it wasn’t swimming in salty broth. A good hit of lime would have really done the trick, I think.
The filling gets points for being topped with crispy little shoestring potatoes. This is such a smart way to add texture, I’m not sure why other places don’t do it.
I opted for sweet plantains and queso as my side. If you like griddled plantains, you will like this. A few of the sides were bordering burnt, which was in no way a bad thing and reminded me a lot of when you burn marshmallows. (Confession: I am a serial marshmallow burner).
Dessert was tres leches cake with chocolate and strawberry sauce drizzled over the top. The drizzles made me very nostalgic for Dairy Queen sundaes and/or banana splits. They were sweet but not really all that distinct in that bottled ice cream topping way. The cake itself was textbook tres leches, competent but not extraordinary.
Here is the thing about Cafe Racer Kitchen: even though I had some quibbles with all of the dishes I had for dinner, it left such an impression for me that I immediately came back for brunch. This is the arepa benedict with roasted vegetables.
Two more of those fritter-like arepas, topped with a variety of roasted vegetables (or you could opt for keilbasa), sweet potato hash, fried eggs, and hollandaise. Well, hollandaise was advertised anyway. If it was actually on the plate, it was used so sparingly I couldn’t taste it. I didn’t really mind, though. The sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables were soft and, for lack of a better word, roasty enough that they carried the dish. I also had some very good cold press coffee, which they will sell you in a to-go cup if you ask nicely.
There is just something about Cafe Racer Kitchen. It is homey and unpretentious. The food is competent and comforting. You will leave full to the point of misery, and yet you will be back the next day, and maybe even the next (they have weekday brunch)! Maybe I will make arepa week an annual occurrence. Or a quarterly one. Heck, maybe monthly.