An Exciting Venezuelan Spot Joins the Italian Market’s Lineup

Arepa Grub Spot works well for a quick snack or a meal where you can be alone with a sweet corn envelope straight off the flat-top grill.

arepa grub spot italian market south philly

An arepa filled with pernil from Arepa Grub Spot / Photograph by Casey Robinson

I ended up walking straight into a pole. One of those metal ones that hold up the awnings along 9th Street. Never even saw it. I was leaning in for a bite, holding half an arepa in wax paper, and one thing led to another.

You can’t just drop by Arepa Grub Spot, pick up a ham-and-cheese, maybe a slow-roasted beef with cheddar (called a “Party Loving Arepa,” which I love), and expect to stroll through the everyday havoc of the Italian Market while gently snacking. Not even if you avoid the poles.

No, you’re going to make a mess. You’re going to get cheese on your face and beef juice on your shirt, and you’re going to leave a trail of corn shrapnel behind you on the sidewalk. Arepas — like cheesesteaks, like barbecue — are the kind of thing you must commit to with your whole heart, consequences be damned. And Arepa Grub Spot’s version more than most. Because this place, with its counter service and handful of seats, is made for convenience. For lunches eaten on the go in a neighborhood made for pedestrians.



Arepa Grub Spot
1112 South 9th Street, East Passyunk

CUISINE: Venezuelan


Order This: Arepas, naturally. Tequeños. Oh, and a roast pork sandwich for later, too.

Arepa Grub Spot serves its Venezuelan food to the neighbors every day of the week, from sunup till long after dark. There’s a sleekness to the small spot — dark colors, fake skylights patterned like a jungle canopy, quick service, a cooler full of drinks. The kitchen makes good use of the space, offering a menu that’s got both breadth and depth. Cachapas are filled with stretchy handmade cheese sandwiched inside a sweet pancake that crumbles like cornbread as soon as it cools. For lunch, there’s a roast pork patacon — a bit thin on the pulled pork, but nicely crisped up in the panini press behind the counter, like a thin Cuban minus the sliced ham and mustard. You’ll see 25 different arepa varieties, from the simplest soft-melted-cheese version to an option with dark roast beef that takes days to prepare, sweet with brown sugar and marsala wine, tender from the long marinade. These folded corn envelopes come straight off the flat-top grill, brown but not charred, finger-thick and sweet with corn sugar. Not too sweet, but close. Right on the edge of being too much, and I’ve got a pretty wicked sweet tooth.

Takeout or not, Arepa Grub Spot is about speed and generosity. Perfect for a fast snack between shifts, a bite before drinks, or a Sunday meal at a window seat where you can be alone with some potato broth and fried yuca.

Just be careful where you walk if you’re snacking in motion. That’s all I’m saying. It’s a big, pole-filled world out there, and Grub Spot’s arepas can sometimes be a dangerous, if ultimately welcome, distraction.

2 Stars — Come if you’re in the neighborhood

Rating Key
0 stars: stay away
★: come if you have no other options
★★: come if you’re in the neighborhood
★★★: come from anywhere in the region
★★★★: come from anywhere in the country

Published as “Hazardously Good Arepas” in the February 2023 issue of Philadelphia magazine.