Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A new food craze is sweeping through Melbourne, and I'm excited! Ok, so by 'through Melbourne' I actually mean 'in Fitzroy,' but I'm still excited. What is it, you ask? Arepas! South American cornbread. Completely gluten-free, and mostly dairy free too! These dense little pockets are amazingly filling and delicious.

I've found two great places providing these tasty little foodstuffs, both doing it deliciously and differently. One is the Columbian cafe Sonido! on Gertrude St, the other is the Cruzao Arepa Bar on Brunswick st.

Sonido! functions as a funky Fitzroy Cafe. All-day breakfasts, strong coffee focus, carefully designed space and a 4pm shutting time. It's not open for dinner and doesn't have a liquor license, but more than makes up for it in atmosphere. If you're feeling adventurous, try one of the South American fruit juices. I gave the 'curuba' a shot, and was pleasantly surprised. They also get bonus points for their large array of Gluten-free sweet goodies. The choc-raspberry brownie is exceptional!

Empanaditas - Deep fried cheese or beef filled pastries
Cruzao goes for a slightly more tapas-bar feel. This is reflected in the menu, the pricing and the set-up. Still very laid back and relaxed, but I wouldn't call it a cafe. They're very enthusiastic about the share plate idea, offering lots of different dishes with great flavours. Cheese and beef are the staple filling, always with some delicious guacamole to be found near by. (I think they throw in some coriander. It's a great flavoursome little touch.) I highly recommend the empanaditas, filled, amazingly fresh little corn pastries. Crispy and hot, these will satiate a gluten-free dumpling craving like little else. It's possibly slightly overpriced for the larger share plates, but the smaller ones are great value.

Fresh Guava Juice. Mmmm.
One of the best things about both of these places is their gluten free knowledge and labelling. I can guarantee no confused looks when you double check ingredients. They're great for dairy-free too, and not bad for nightshades as long as you avoid the tomato-cooked beef. The arepa might be small and unassuming, but it  makes an excellent addition to the Gluten-free scene in Melbourne. I only hope they manage to move out of Fitzroy and into the wider community sometime soon!

Sonido! on Urbanspoon

Cruzao Arepa Bar on Urbanspoon

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