The arepa is the staff of life in Colombia, where these golden griddled cornmeal cakes are eaten throughout the day. Closer to home, they're also the foundation for the menu at Mais Arepas (1200 Carondelet St., 504-523-6247).
David Mantilla, a former partner in Baru Bistro & Tapas, opened Mais Arepas this month. He is a native of Cali in western Colombia, and his menu highlights the traditional flavors of his hometown, especially arepas with a dozen or more different fillings. There also are dishes like ajiaco, an Andean potato soup with shredded chicken, and the bandeja paisa, a Colombian-style mixed-meat platter.
Mantilla says the restaurant's name is a play on words, combining the French word for corn with arepa to suggest the Creole-style approach he's after at Mais Arepas.
"Back home, the culture is a mix of European, African and native people so that's the idea of Creole I think we share with New Orleans," he says.
Mais Arepas serves lunch Tuesday through Saturday and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Reservations are accepted.