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The Short Version: Caracas Arepa Bar is a warm and welcoming place to go for lunch, dinner, or cocktail hour. The Brooklyn restaurant has weathered the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is now open for indoor dining with limited capacity. Couples can plan a fun date at Caracas Arepa Bar to enjoy the restaurant’s traditional Venezuelan food and rum-infused cocktails. Just make sure to come with a big appetite because the kitchen doesn’t skimp when it comes to portion sizes.
COVID-19 has brought some dark days for the restaurant industry all over the world. Tourism has dropped. Restrictions and reopenings have posed logistical challenges, and the financial downturn has caused some small local restaurants to go dark.
New York City was hit hard and early by the pandemic. But in the first few months of 2021, things have started to look up. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, New York officials began lifting its ban on indoor dining and ensuring that restaurants could safely make people’s winter days a little brighter and a little more romantic.
Caracas Arepa Bar made an announcement Feb. 13 that the dining room would be open for the first time in almost a year. The NYC neighborhood restaurant put extensive safety precautions in place, including plexiglass separating its tables.
“Happy Valentine’s Day! Come with your sweetheart and celebrate with us,” the Caracas Arepa Bar team said on Facebook. “May love always prevail — and que viva la arepa!”
Caracas Arepa Bar had to close its original location in the East Village during the 2020 pandemic, but its Brooklyn bar is still slinging drinks and serving authentic Venezuelan food. The Rockaway Beach location will reopen for the summer season as it has every year since 2011.
Whether they’re sheltering from the cold in a private booth or ordering their dinner to-to, couples can trust Caracas Arepa Bar to add extra flavor and fun to any date night with its savory arepas and craft cocktails.
Caracas Arepa Bar has brought a lot of love to the table since opening its doors in 2003. Some diners say the classic South American dishes make them feel nostalgic for home, while others say it gives them a taste of vacation in their neighborhood.
The Caracas menu has arepas, rice bowls, croquetas, salads, and appetizers bursting with fresh ingredients. Tofu can be substituted for most meat dishes, and the servers are always happy to recommend vegan-friendly options or accommodate dietary restrictions.
As of 2020, Caracas began offering an online ordering and delivery service that allows people to stay in and treat themselves to an arepas date night at home. The menu even includes single and family-style cocktails that can really bump up the flavor in an evening.
Roneria Caracas is a specialized cocktail bar inside Caracas Arepa Bar Brooklyn. Rum is front and center here. The shelves are stocked with over 40 types of sipping rums sourced from Central America and the Caribbean Islands.
“The rum bar offers a lot of delicious options for couples to explore on happy hours night after night,” the Caracas team said.
Sharing cocktails at the Roneria Caracas can be a fun date-night activity, especially for those who love rum and want to try something new. The guarapita (aka rum and passion fruit) cocktail is known as a “Venezuelan party in a bottle.” Its tart and fruity taste can definitely perk up couples who have been stuck at home and want to brighten up their day.
The Dark and Stormy cocktail is another crowd-pleaser at the bar. It’s made with aged rum, fresh-pressed ginger, lemon, and angostura bitters.
Looking for a classic cocktail? The rum bar also makes a mean margarita and mojito, both of which are available to-go. The ginger hot toddy is a wonderfully boozy drink for a cold winter night; however, it is not available for delivery, so patrons have to show up to Caracas to get it while it’s hot.
“All of our cocktails are made with natural ingredients and top-shelf spirits with a focus on rums,” the Caracas team told us.
No matter where they come from or what they look like, everyone who sits down to eat at Caracas Arepa Bar is treated like part of the family. The restaurant entertains all sorts of people from working professionals on a lunch break to families celebrating a special occasion. It has seen old friends catching up and Tinder dates meeting for the first time. It’s a casual place for regulars and newcomers to mingle and enjoy themselves.
“I try to eat here at least once every other week,” said Natalie T. in a Yelp review. “I am completely addicted to their offering of salsas. The habanero is truly one to set your mouth on fire and the yellow classic I salivate for all week until I’m finally forced to return for my fix.”
Many patrons have praised the Williamsburg restaurant’s backyard patio space where picnic benches and string lights set the mood.
“The covered, heated back patio has ample space to accommodate social distancing,” said Alexander B. “The arepas are deceivingly heavy and satiating and the sides are to-die for. Caracas is a haven of hospitality and warmth in the neighborhood.”
The Williamsburg location isn’t the only place New Yorkers can fill up on Caracas arepas and cocktails.
Caracas Arepa Bar opened its Rockaway Beach location in 2011. The beachside restaurant became an instant hit among the summer crowds. The Rockaway location serves its arepas from May through September and always leaves folks wanting more.
At the end of the 2020 summer season, Caracas Arepa Bar’s team had a lot of love to share with the local community.
“We just want to send a big big heartfelt thank you to all the Rockaway residents and lovers that have been showing their support,” the team said in a Facebook post. “Keeping sustainable small businesses in NYC is really hard, and we have done it since the beginning by providing a safe and nurturing environment.”
Running a restaurant in a pandemic is no easy task, but as the U.S. emerges from its long, dark winter, there is reason to hope. NYC couples can look forward to having back-to-normal dinner dates and celebrations at their favorite restaurants.
After months of takeout and delivery, Caracas Arepa Bar is ready to welcome patrons to its cozy indoor tables and outdoor patio area. The team delivers delicious South American cuisine and cocktails with a smile behind their face masks.
Caracas Arepa Bar is not back to business as usual just yet, but it is getting there. We will all get there. In the meantime, every steaming plate of arepas and every colorful rum-infused cocktail can act as an encouraging sign of normalcy returning to the streets of New York City.
“It’s been a hard year for us,” the Caracas team acknowledged in a Facebook post. “But we are alive and standing. Hoping for a new year that brings opportunities, health, and happiness to our community.”