A sister location to Zuarepa in Lawrenceville, Zuarepa Gainesville opened its doors in May.
“We prepare family flavors from our heart and want other people to know what Venezuelan food is,” said Lorena Guerrero, who oversees the front end of the restaurant and customer service at Zuarepa. “Our focus is to bring something new to your house. It's like you're sitting at the table at our house and eating our family's food.”
When asked to describe Zuarepa, one word that comes to Guerrero’s mind is “family.”
“It's from our family to your family, and from our house to your house,” she said.
At Zuarepa Gainesville, business is indeed a family affair; Guerrero’s mom, dad, aunt and boyfriend assist in the day-to-day operations of the restaurant.
“Zuarepa is our family business where we all are working together and doing our best efforts everyday to offer you good products and services,” said Guerrero’s father and owner of Zuarepa, Antonio Guerrero.
In 2014, the Guerrero family left western Venezuela and headed to Miami, launching Zuarepa as a food truck there two years later.
In 2018, Zuarepa relocated to Georgia in search of “better opportunities to grow our business and live quality for our family,” according to Antonio.
Zuarepa gets its name from the Venezuelan state of Zulia and arepas — the most popular dish on the restaurant’s menu, often referred to as the “queen of the house.”
Arepas, a staple Venezuelan and Colombian dish, are best described as a pancake-like texture.
Although it may look like a sandwich, arepas are a South American delicacy made out of flour, corn and a dash of salt. From there, the arepas are split open and filled with either steak, chicken, pork or sausage. The meats are then marinated with the family’s seasoning recipe.
To top it off, the dish is garnished with pico de gallo, salsa verde and cheese.
Venezuelan dishes are similar to the bordering country of Colombia, but what sets the two countries apart in food is the taste and the ingredients that are stuffed in your arepa, according to Lorena.
Other South American dishes not to be overlooked at Zuarepa are the empanadas, patacones — fried green plantains — and tequenos, an appetizer that’s similar to a mozzarella sticks.
Zuarepa Gainesville is open for lunch and dinner 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
For more information on Zuarepa and its menu, visit zuarepatogo.com.