As those of you who know me know, I am always up for trying something new. At Georgia Tech, I have the pleasure of working with two wonderful women from Colombia Beatriz and Valentina. After hearing them talk several times about arepas, I had to try them.
Thanks to Blissful Glutton and the AJC for this fabulous tip on where to find them! Las Arepas de Julia sits quietly next to a Subway on Lawrenceville Highway just south of Pleasant Hill Rd. in Lilburn.
The storefront is unassuming. Several small neat tables dotted the small store. The colors were bright with Colombian travel posters dotting the walls. A television showed Spanish television. The patrons all seemed to be from Colombia, a good sign in my book.
As food arrived around us, I saw large plates of meat, rice and beans, a great looking chicken soup with rice, and a number of other fresh looking main dishes.
Thanks to my friends we ordered a wonderful sampling of Colombian snacks. We started our meal with fruit juices. Traditionally mixed with water, or milk these were delicious. We had blackberry, passion fruit, and one other traditional Colombian fruit flavor. We ordered them mixed with water. They were refreshing and went well with the food.
As an appetizer we chose the empanadas. These were different from any I had ever had. They had a thick and crispy cornmeal outer shells, that have some substance and crunch to each bite. The inside was filled with mashed potatoes and delicious meat. We tried both the chicken and the meat. I was instructed to eat them by hollowing out space in each bite for the pepper condiment which gave each bit a vinegary kick!
Finally what we were really seeking, the arepas... We chose three favorites the arepa con carne desmechada a tasty blend of shredded beef and peppers, the arepa de choloco con queso perfectly sweet and salty this was like an amazing grilled cheese sandwich only better, and the arepa con camarones and guacamole served with good size and good quality shrimp served in creamy salsa rosada.
We weren't quite full and my friends were excited to be having Colombian food, so we ordered one more dish patacones con hogao, fried green plantains smashed flat and cooked like latkas. They were served salted with guacamole and what seemed to be stewed tomatoes. They were crisp on the outside and warm and soft on the inside a perfect combination.
We finished our meal by grabbing some traditional Colombian candies Chokis from the counter. They sell other traditional packaged foods. My friends loaded up on some of their favorite snacks.
Overall a great meal and a great experience. I am planning to go back again soon. I am hoping others will join me as I plan to tackle the traditional and massive bandeja paisa, a mixed plate with a fried egg, rice, beans, avocado, plantains, ground beef, fried pork skin, pork sausage and an arepa.
4044 Lawrenceville Hwy Lilburn, GA 30047