A few months ago I read about the opening of Guasaca in Raleigh on some of the local foodie blogs and made a note that I should try to check it out. As I periodically checked reviews on yelp I kept reading about how great the food was so I bumped this up into the “must visit” category (yes I keep a list of places to check out). Recently I was out at a meeting near the Marketplace at Lake Boone Trail where Guasaca is located and took the opportunity to stop in for a quick lunch and grab some pictures. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to visit. This place is great!
The setup at Guasaca is very similar to Chipotle or Moe’s in that you order and pay at the counter and get to watch the staff create your meal. The big difference at Guasaca is the food! The food at Guasaca is based on a Venezuelan inspired cuisine known as an arepa. Arepas look like pita pockets but they are slightly thinker and made from corn and are grilled fresh right there in the restaurant. The arepas come wrapped in a little paper pouch. I learned on my visit it is best to keep them wrapped in the paper pouch and hold them from the bottom (not the side) to avoid squeezing out all the tasty fillings!
You can order an arepa filled with a wide variety of meats, vegetables and sauces. The meat choices are chicken, pork, shredded beef, grilled steak, and tilapia. There are five or six different sauces to choose from to add to your sandwich I got the “signature” chicken arepa with black beans, pico de gallo, cheese, and cilantro sauce which was fantastic. You can also get chips with traditional salsa or “guasaca” which is a type of salsa made with avocados and other veggies that is really tasty. In addition to the meats and sauces there are tons of veggies to choose from to add to your the arepa or you can opt to enjoy the medley of meat and veggies as a salad in a bowl.
One of the things I really like about Guasaca is that they don’t use any processed food or pre-made ingredients. The food tasted very fresh and the flavors were tasty and interesting making for a fun new lunch experience. The dining area is casual and cozy with long slim design with a nice modern flare with an acid etched concrete floor and white tables and a light lime green walls highlighted with some industrial style lighting fixtures. They also have one of those fancy new Coca Cola Freestyle machines offering 100+ drink combinations along with brewed sweet and unsweetened tea.
Guasaca has become really popular with the lunch crowd so it can get a little busy during the lunch hour rush, but if it gets too crowded inside there is some really nice outdoor seating on a brick patio out in front of the restaurant along Lake Boone Trail. Guasaca is open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. To check out their menu visit their website or facebook page below.