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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Arepa Mia (Decatur & Downtown)

Toddler Foodie Rating:  2.5 out of 5 Gummy Bears (applies to Decatur location due to lack of toddler-friendly seating only, not quality of food)

:) = Delicious, authentic Venezuelan food and beverages.  The bright, colorful d├ęcor and cute cartoon arepas gracing the walls of the restaurant create great ambience for kids. Friendly Spanish-speaking staff.  Easily accessible private parking lot.  Front and back entrances create a smooth flow of people traffic, considering the space is not very big.

:( = This location only has one picnic table that seats 8 comfortably.  The rest of the seating - high-top counters and bar stools - is definitely not toddler-friendly during busy hours.  During peak hours (weekend brunch/lunch), this restaurant is best for kids 5 and up. 

"Must. Grow. Longer. Arms."
We are huge fans of arepas.  Mommy discovered arepas during a girls' trip to Miami, and she has been making them for us at home ever since.  So when the opportunity came up to try the Decatur location of the popular Venezuelan restaurant Arepa Mia, we were all in.  (Don't tell Mommy, but we think a restaurant can probably cook arepas much better than she can.)

We arrived at the restaurant around 12:30 PM.  Sometimes parking and getting out of the car with toddlers can be difficult in the heart of Downtown Decatur, but Mommy happily discovered that Arepa Mia is not exactly in the heart of Downtown Decatur and has a large private parking lot.  We entered directly from the parking lot through the back door- really convenient.

Photo credit:
Upon entering the restaurant, we met a winding line of diners waiting to place their orders at the counter.  Mommy held us tightly and weaved through the crowd in an attempt to find a seat.  To her dismay, there was only one 8-person wooden picnic table in the dining area - and it was full.  The rest of the seats were high backless tools at even higher counters.  Mommy sat each of us down on a stool and stood behind us to make sure we didn't topple off.

Arepa reina pepiada
At this point, I guess we could have decided to leave... but the food looked and smelled SO good, we couldn't bring ourselves to do it.  Our aunt who had joined us for the meal went to the counter and ordered us the arepa reina pepiada, queso empanada, cachapas pabellon, and two fresh guava juices.
Queso empanadas
Cachapas pabellon

All we can say about the food is WOW.  Every dish was so tasty and full of exotic flavors that we weren't even sure where to start.  Our favorite dish was the cachapas pabellon.  It was both salty (due to the cheese) and sweet (due to the sweet corn used to make the cachapa).  We also enjoyed the empanadas, even though the cheese was really messy and wet.  The arepa was a little too intimidating for our tiny hands and mouths, but Mommy loved it.  The best part of the meal, though, was the fresh guava juice.  The cashier told us that Arepa Mia offers different fresh juices weekly.

The crowd died down eventually, and the picnic table came open.  We moved over to the table, sparing Mommy and Auntie from having to hold us on their laps (while sitting on backless stools) any longer.  We all were able to fully enjoy our meals after that; but by then we were almost done.

We would love to give Arepa Mia at least 4 Gummy Bears because the atmosphere was bright and fun, the staff was friendly, and the food was so authentic and delicious.  Unfortunately, we don't think we'll be able to go back unless we go on a weekday.  There just isn't enough toddler-friendly seating.  If we're craving Venezuelan food another weekend, we may order takeout to enjoy at home.  And we will definitely dine in again when we're older, more coordinated, and have better listening (and obeying) skills.

"Mommy gets so tired trying to cachapas with us!"
"Can't touch this."


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