By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 11, 2022 at 11:01 AM Photography: Lori Fredrich

There’s yet another delicious option to enjoy at the 3rd Street Market Hall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. That’s because Anytime Arepa is officially serving up a menu featuring not only their delicious arepas, but a number of new items as well (with more on the way).

Founded by Maria Salas and Leo Farfan in 2018, Anytime Arepa got its start with a small stall at the Kenosha Harbor Market, but has grown to include both a food truck at Zócalo Food Park and now a brick and mortar location at the Downtown food hall. [Read the family’s full story here].

Maria Salas and Leo FarfanX

The business is named for the ubiquitous Venezuelan arepa, a corn-based flatbread which is so popular and versatile that it is commonly eaten, not only at dinner, but also for breakfast, lunch or even a late night snack.

But it’s also a testament to a family who left their homeland and traveled over 2,500 miles to establish a new and better life for themselves and their loved ones.

“We want to dedicate this opening at the Market Hall to our families… both the Salas and Farfan families in Venezuela,” says Farfan. “It means so much that we are able to operate this business for ourselves and for them.”

He notes that, as the political turmoil continues in their homeland, one thing they have always done – and which they will continue to do – is to offer their family members (including their parents) a better life by sending them a portion of the profits from their growing business.

What to expect

If you head into the food hall and find the main bar, you’re not far from the Anytime Arepa stand, which serves up a menu of arepas, empanadas and other Venezuelan snacks.

side view of vendor stallX

Their vendor stall features visible signage above a  rustic wooden counter which Farfan says pays homage to the original wooden counter they built to sell their first arepas at the Harbor Market in Kenosha.  

Since everything is made from scratch, the open kitchen also enables customers to see their food being made from start to finish.

Salas in vendor stallX

As for the menu, guests can look forward to indulging in any number of delicious items, including their namesake arepas made with freshly griddled masa dough filled with slow braised meats, vegetables and accompaniments.

Choices include house-braised beef brisket, chicken, pork, or veggie (black beans and plantains) and the guest’s choice of additional fillings including veggies (black beans, fried ripe plantains), cheese (cheddar, feta or monterey jack) and salsa (garlic, avocado or spicy). Pricing is $11.99-$12.99.

Pork and brisket arepas

But, there’s also a new option on the menu. Currently available only as a special on weekends, Anytime Arepa has also introduced a Venezuelan classic: the reina pepiada (also known as the Queen arepa) filled with shredded chicken, fresh avocado and mayonnaise. It’s an arepa said to be named in homage to Susana Dujim, who won the Miss World pageant in 1955. And – even better – it’s fresh and delicious.

Also new on the menu are Venezuelan empanadas, a fried treat made with arepa dough that’s filled, folded into a half-moon shape, sealed and deep-fried. Fillings include ground beef, chicken, cheese, dominó (black beans and cheese) or pabellón (beef, plantains and beans) The large sized empanadas are priced $5.49 to $6.49 each with garlic, avocado, or spicy salsa on the side.

Empanada just out of the fryer (Photo: Anytime Arepa)

Of course, guests can also opt for snack-sized mini empanadas, which are  available in a sampler basket featuring two cheese, two beef and two chicken empanadas for $14.99 (served with choice of salsa).

Venezuelan pastelitos, little deep-fried ravioli-shaped snacks made with filled wheat-based dough, are also a feature. They are currently served in a basket with two of each flavor (chicken and beef) plus two tequeños ($10.99).

Guests will also find baskets of tequeños, a snack featuring rich pastry crust wrapped around salty, melty queso blanco, that definitely gives the American mozzarella stick a run for its money. They are $10.99 for a shareable basket.  Guests looking to assuage their sweet teeth also have the option to order sweet Nutella-filled tequeños.

Important note: All items at Anytime Arepa (with the exception of the pastelitos and tequeños) are gluten-free. In fact, to prevent cross-contamination for guests, none of Anytime Arepa’s flour-based items are made in their kitchen at the Market Hall. They are made off-premise, delivered frozen and prepared using a dedicated fryer.

Coming soon!

Starting as soon as next month, Farfan says they will be adding their scrumptious breakfast arepas, filled with local farm fresh scrambled eggs and bacon, which will be served at their booth between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Breakfast arepa
One of their breakfast arepas at Zocalo Food Park

Moving forward, Farfan says they also hope to introduce additional Venezuelan dishes to the menu at the food hall. Currently they are working on finalizing their recipe for cachapas, Venezuelan pancakes traditionally made with ground fresh corn, cheese, and panela (or sugar). They are also busy perfecting the tomato-based salsa to accompany their savory fried tostones.

Guests can watch for specials and new additions on Anytime Arepa’s social media channels including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.