Profile: Arepazo Tapas & Wine

By Columbus Alive
From the August 8, 2013 edition

Anyone who works Downtown knows having lunch at El Arepazo, a quaint bodega serving South American cuisine, can easily be the highlight of the week. The Downtown spot has been drawing a steady crowd for a few years thanks to its scrumptious offerings.

Now Gahanna residents have easy access with Arepazo Tapas & Wine. There are some slight variations on food offerings from the original location, including the addition of tapas and a full bar.

The decent-sized bar and a number of two- and four-top tables occupy the single-room bistro. The space features low — but not dim — lighting with wood and brick accents. It’s a chic upgrade from the Downtown space.

The best plan of attack for imbibing at Arepazo Tapas & Wine is the cocktail list ($10 and under). The Classic Margarita, or the Jumbo version if you are so inclined, is a nice representation of the traditional recipe — not too sweet and a healthy kick of citrusy booze.

If the margarita is good, the Classic Caipirinha is great. Caipirinha is Brazil’s most popular drink and for good reason. Even if it’s hard to pronounce, it’s a simple recipe that results in a perfectly refreshing cocktail. The version at Arepazo, using cachaca — usually referred to as “Brazilian rum,” but actually quite different from that generally sugary spirit — lime juice and a dash of simple syrup, is appropriately authentic. Cachaca has an earthiness that balances out the sweetness of the sugar cane, and only needs a little citrus for the flavors to pop.

The list is varied with other Latin American cocktails and sangria, and there’s a handful of south of the border beers on tap. The wine list chooses quality over quantity with a few quality options by the glass and bottle that are also kind of the wallet.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the tapas menu, which boasts more than a dozen mouthwatering options. The standouts include Venezuelan Empanaditas ($8), Chorizo al Vino ($6) and Tortilla Espanola ($8).