Last Updated on by Angie
Cilantro & Ajo is a casual Venezuelan restaurant located in South Side that features arepas and other delicious Venezuelan street food. We've had arepas from their food truck in the past, and they were so good that we knew we had to check out their brick and mortar location.
Venezuelan Classics at Cilantro & Ajo
The restaurant is a very casual, order at the counter type of place. The menu focuses on arepas (white cornmeal patties) stuffed with a wide variety of fillings and also a build-your-own option. There are also pabellon bowls, empanadas, tostadas, and sides like yuca fries, tequenos, and jojotos (corn on the cob topped with mayo and queso fresco).
On our recent visit we tried the classic pabellon arepa stuffed with shredded beef, beans, plantains, and cheese. Some of the things that can haunt arepas are fillings that are too dry (no flavor, blah) or too saucy (soaks through the arepa and tears the dough).
But the filling here had just the right amount of sauciness. We absolutely loved the sweetness of the plantains and the salty sharpness of the crumbled cheese that contrasted with the rich, savory beef. The arepa itself was deliciously crispy on the outside with a tender interior. The sandwich was even better when drizzled with their signature creamy and pungent cilantro garlic sauce.
We also tried the tequenos which were fried cheese sticks served with a ketchup-mayo sauce. The dough was thicker and bread-like but fried crispy on the outside. These were a perfect shareable starter.
Do Not Skip the Cachapa
We were intrigued by the cachapa which we'd never tried before, so we ordered one with a side of roasted pork. The cachapa was a sweet corn pancake that was griddled and crispy on the outside, stuffed with an insane amount of cheese, and topped with more cheese.
The pancake was sweet and custardy and reminded me of a southern spoonbread casserole. The combination of savory pork, salty cheese, and sweet corn was incredibly addicting. Just be warned- this dish is a ton of food and should probably be shared between a few people.
Cilantro & Ajo is a great spot for takeout or for a quick lunch or dinner if you're looking for something more interesting than the mundane bar food that is typical in South Side.
Cilantro & Ajo is located at 901 E Carson Street in South Side. Be on the lookout for their food truck at various locations as well!