Last Updated on January 29, 2021 by Jeremy
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When walking around the Strip District in early 2021, we noticed some changes in front of Reyna's grocery store. Their short-order taco stand was replaced by a Colombina arepa stand. As we are just as crazy about arepas as we are tacos, it didn't take long for us to place an order.
But, as it turns out, Colombino is not just an arepa stand, but rather a coffee and cacao bar that also serves arepas.
This one is truly the best of all worlds, and in the span of 36 hours, we visited this one twice. It is that good.
Colombino Shines with Coffee and Cacao
We didn't quite know what to expect at Colombino until talking to one of the owners during our first visit. We knew they served arepas, but it was only at this point that we understood the full extent of their business.
Arepas are one aspect, yes, but they also import their own green coffee beans directly from Colombia, roast the beans themselves, and have a packed coffee menu of options including drip coffee (with a daily special), pour over, and even espresso. It is hard to beat a good Colombian coffee at the best of times, but a good Colombian coffee directly imported and roasted for a walk-up stand in the Strip District? This one is too good to be true.
But while we envision many coffee orders from this one to accompany our frequent strolls through the Strip District, it was their hot cacao that really stole the show.
This traditional hot chocolate is made with straight-up cacao and sweetened with panela and spices. You get a nice, robust hit of the cacao on the start of every sip which then pops with a nice hit of the spices that are more complimentary than overpowering. It is the kind of beverage you'll take a sip of, then immediately go back for another- a perfect beverage to stroll the Strip District with especially on a cold day.
You'll Want a Couple of Arepas Too
On its own, we'd be happy stopping at Colombino purely for their coffee and cacao products, but we also walked away with arepas during both of our visits. In fact, I'd go as far as saying they're the reason we returned the very next day for more.
While Colombino's arepa menu is not the largest we've ever seen, they have a nice mix of sweet and savory options here and you'll do well to get both.
Their signature arepa is sweet and is topped with sweet plantains, cheese, and a heaping portion of guava jam. The soft arepa base here makes for a nice texture through and through, but it is the balance of guava and plantain that really made this arepa shine. For this particular one, it is worth noting that it is on the smaller side, so it is good on its own as a snack but may not be enough to constitute a full meal.
That's where the savory arepas come in to play.
For those who want a bit more, the savory arepas are for you. These have a crunchy arepa base and are loaded with your choice of protein (chicken or crispy pork), topped with beans, plantains, avocado (extra charge), and optional hot sauce.
Loaded is probably an understatement here as, with the extra avocado, ours was literally overflowing from the shell (so much so that you'll definitely need a fork). The crispy pork here paired well with the plantains and the nice hit of avocado and hot sauce really helped pull this one together for a complete meal.
The combination of the savory and sweet arepa from Colombino made for a delicious (and slightly light) lunch for us. If we were making this a decent meal, we probably would recommend couples each get their own savory arepa and then split a sweet one as dessert. Or, if you are like us and find that you didn't get enough the first time, you can always go back the next day- we don't regret that decision at all!
Colombino is located in the stall in front of Reyna's at 2013 Penn Avenue in the Strip District.