My lovely sister recommended Hola Arepa to me many moons ago because of their gluten sensitive menu. Naturally, when I heard the entire menu is gluten-free unless otherwise specified, it shot to the top of our Tour to go to list. And thank God for that! Really. Actually. Because brunch at Hola Arepa is nearly a religious experience.
The Overall Experience
I love Hola. And today, Hola loved me back. Both my breakfast companion and I had insanely delicious meals, indulged in incredible coffee, and smiled till our faces hurt. The portions are perfected and each dish is packed with fresh, diverse ingredients. Plus, the staff is friendly and accommodating even though they’re all too cool for you. I went, I ate, and I didn’t want to leave unless I was leaving only to come right back again.
The Venue and Service
Hola is a pretty small place (though the giant mirror on the back wall may fool you into thinking otherwise). Because of this, when we arrived at about 10:30am on a Sunday, we would have had to wait 20 minutes for a table. However, we opted to sit at the bar (for no wait) and were treated to service from a bartender with a genuine smile, quick coffee refill skills, and overall top-notch diligence. He served nearly ten diners with ease. BONUS: They opened up the garage door-like window, exposing an additional outdoor bar attached to the indoor one and allowing the warm spring sun to stream in and make our lives better.
The Food and Coffee
The brunch menu is relatively small and not terribly diverse. However, the individual dishes themselves offer diverse ingredients and fresh spins on breakfast classics that were entirely refreshing. Though I had a ton of potential choices, I selected the Breakfast Arepa ($11.50, but plus pork and guac made it $13.50). This gem of a breakfast was a cornmeal griddle cake sandwich stuffed with a fried egg, black beans, tomatoes, pork, and guacamole. And it was incredible. The cornmeal cake itself was delectable – soft and spongy, but firm enough to hold the whole meal together without breaking once. The ingredients inside were a strong combination of Mexican flavor that never became too spicy. On the side came the most perfect yucca fries I’ve ever encountered. The meal was breakfast perfection.
My breakfast companion chose the Fried Chicken and Cachapas ($13). Her meal came as a sweet corn cake cachapa topped with fried chicken, fried egg, bacon, chipotle-maple syrup, arugula, cape gooseberries, and sweet corn. She LOVED it. The chicken was super light and crispy, never weighing down the morning meal like fried food can. The cachapa was a thick and hearty, yet still sweet pancake that nicely soaked up the egg yolk and syrup, further enhancing the flavor. The bacon was pretty classic, but managed to have a deliciously nice flavor despite not being super thick or fatty – impressive. The gooseberries were made into like a creamy, mayo-like consistency and topped the meal beautifully. The sweet corn was also a genius addition! It was sweet, but not sugary, adding a fresh and hearty kick that perfectly punctuated the meal. Overall, because everything was kind of layered, you get a really complex, savory flavor with every bite. My friend, who isn’t even gluten-free, found the meal fresh, savory, flavorful, and satisfying.
All in all, Hola Arepa was fantastic. The food? Fantastic. The coffee? Fantastic. The atmosphere? Fantastic. I already made plans to go there for my birthday dinner and already recommended it for brunch to everyone I know. See you in a week, Hola. And every week thereafter, if I had my way.
Coffee Quality: 10
Food Quality: 10
Quality of Service: 10
Menu Variety: 8
Overall Satisfaction: 10
Parking: street parking
Average Score: 9.5
Have you been to Hola Arepa?
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OR…want to experience Hola Arepa for yourself?
Check out their website or pop their address into your smartphone:
3501 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408