RESTAURANT REVIEW: Guasaca South American Grill

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I’d been eyeing this place for a while now because of its consistent top 5 ranking on the Raleigh Yelp page. I’m also a huge fan of anything Mexican/Spanish/South American, so I had to hit up this Venezuelan spot. Guasaca is described as a “Salsa & Arepa Grill” where you can order from an array of specialty arepas, or you can build your own arepa, salad or bowl. Fillings/toppings include: meat(grilled chicken, pork, shreaded beef, steak, tilapia), toppings(cole slaw, plantains, black beans, black eyed peas, salsa, cheese, carmelized onions), and a variety of sauces(mustard, cilantro, red sauce, vinegar sauce, sour cream, or Guasaca sauce). They also offer chips and salsa as a side.

You’re probably wondering what an arepa is, as was I. Guasaca describes it as Venezuala’s daily bread which is corn based instead of wheat. It can be filled with many combinations of fillings and boy was it good…

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The best way I can describe this place is a twist off of Chipotle. You stand stand in line choosing which toppings you want on your dish.

What sets them apart? The arepas.

My dad and I weren’t very hungry going in, so we wanted to split a chicken arepa. We went to claim a seat since it was busy while my mom ordered. Apparently there had been some confusion while ordering, because she came back with 2 arepas along with her salad and side of chips. This was probably a good thing though, because the arepas aren’t terribly big. Also, 1 chicken arepa is $4.10, while 2 are $6.95, so it probably turned out for the best.

It looked like a corn dough patty that was lightly fried, and split open to hold a generous amount of chicken, black beans, pico de gallo and cheese. Cilantro dipping sauce was served on the side.

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I first tried the bread and after that, I knew we were gonna hit it off. I can now suspend my search for a valentine knowing I have Guasaca to spend the day with. Who needs girls when you’ve got arepas?

I pretty much love anything having to do with corn and this bread was cooked to the perfect crispness, with just enough chew and sweetness to it. I could go home with just the bread and be happy, but let’s dig into the fillings for the sake of this review. The shredded chicken was very tender and well seasoned offering a savory element to the sandwich. The beans and cheese combined to add a creamy, savory taste. The salsa had nice tang and I believe a citrusy lime flavor to add a nice kick. All held together by the crispy, alluring arepa bun. The cilantro sauce also offered a creamy, fresh taste to the sandwich or chips. Once issue with the arepa is that it starts to leak and fall apart quickly as the bread loses it molecular integrity.

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Pico de gallo also came with the chips which went together perfectly. The chips were not broken and very fresh, and also had that same lime tang to them which is a plus in my opinion.

I almost forgot, Another huge plus: the price.
Salad: $6.95
2 chicken arepas: $6.95
Chips/salsa: $2.19

The entire bill for 3 mediocre appetites came to $17 something with tax. Hard to beat that.

I’m gonna agree with Yelp on this one and highly praise Guasaca. I’d highly recommend this place to anyone who likes to try unique foods and likes Spanish inspired, Chipotle-esque restaurants. The only knocks I have for the place was the apparent confusion while ordering, limited sauces/salsa served in tiny cups, and it being quite busy(not really a bad thing, just means it’s a good place). Check them out if you’re in the Triangle. Find there website here: https://guasaca.com/

Restaurant: Guasaca South American Grill
Location: 2 locations in Raleigh/Durham, NC
Rating: 9/10

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