All Nashvillians know the Farmers’ Market is the weekend attraction that brings together farmers, restauranteurs, shop-owners, crafters and special events. If you’re lucky, you know that every third weekend the best Venezuelan food in all of music city is served by popup restaurant Caracasville. We recently had the opportunity to chat with Fidel Vasquez, Owner of Caracasville, to learn more about their mouthwatering menu and what makes their Arepas a customer favorite.
How did Caracasville get its start?
With a passion for cooking and lack of Venezuelan cuisine in Nashville, my wife Ivonne and I opened Caracasville in November of 2013 at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. At first, we offered a limited menu of just empanadas and went to the market only three or four days a month (mostly on weekends). For weeks, we did not have much traction since Venezuelan cuisine was a new concept for most people. With persistence, we kept coming back and it finally paid off – people started liking our food! Three months after opening, we introduced Arepas, a dish made of ground maize dough, to our menu, and we started attracting more and more customers.
We decided to open at the Farmers’ Market before opening a restaurant because it was the only way to offer our food without having to invest a lot of money and it required very little commitment. The market helped us grow as a pop up restaurant and now we feel ready to expand. In fact, we have a truck that we are now converting into a food truck. We will start from there and are excited to see what happens next!
What days are you currently at the Farmers’ Market?
You will find Caracasville in the market the third weekend of every month. The market won’t allow vendors to work more than one weekend per month. This allows all vendors to have the same opportunities and no preferences which we totally agree with – we appreciate the work they do!
Where does your inspiration come from?
My wife and I are from Venezuela and still have family living in the capital, Caracas, along with other states in the Northeast. This region is where you’ll find the best Venezuelan empanadas and is what inspired our name, Caracasville.
What ingredients can’t Caracasville live without?
We use onions, green-red peppers and garlic in almost every one of our dishes!
What are your top selling dishes?
Our top selling dishes in order are the Arepas, Empanadas, Chicha and Cachitos. Can’t make it to Nashville for our top selling Arepas? Try making our gluten free Arepas at home!
Ready In: 20 minutes
- 2 cups P.A.N corn flour (can be purchased at most local supermarkets)
- Vegetable Oil (as needed)
- 2 1/2 Cups Warm Water
- 1 teaspoon Salt (for taste)
- Desired Fillings: Vegetables, chicken, beef or ham
- Gradually stir cornmeal into water with your fingers until mixture forms a soft dough
- Knead the masa (dough) until smooth
- Preheat a grill on medium high and spray with vegetable oil to keep the Arepa from sticking
- Shape the masa flat and round. Place it on the grill
- Wait 2 minutes and flip it over and 2 minutes to the other side
- Heat approximately 4 additional minutes minutes per side until the Arepa is puffy
- When the arepa is ready, cut it open and stuff it with your favorite item(s): chicken, pork, beef, vegetables, cheese, ham – you name it!
What is the difference between Venezuelan food and other South American food?
Our cuisine has indigenous African and European influences (Italian, Spanish and French), which brings tons of flavor to our cuisine. Venezuela is so large and diverse that each region has its own regional cooking. Differences between our food and other South American cuisine are really just in the ingredients we use. Many Americans tend to think Arepas are only cooked in Colombia. However, both Columbia and Venezuela make amazing Arepas each with a different style and ingredients.
Thank you so much Fidel for sharing your special Arepas recipe and a look into Venezuelan cuisine! Stay tuned as to when Caracasville will be serving near you by following them on Facebook and Instagram!