We know it is easy to confuse some Latin dishes due to their form and flavor, BUT believe us when we claim that arepas and tacos, although commonly mistaken, are NOT the same thing. Yes, they are both delicious street food from Latin American cuisine, and yes they share a base of cornmeal and flavorful fillings but… beneath the surface, these dishes offer distinct experiences.

After reading these three main differences you’ll be able to distinguish one from the other and still enjoy them both. 

Shape Up: Tortilla vs. Patty Power

The taco is all about the vessel: a small, soft corn or crispy hard flour tortilla cradles a variety of fillings, making it perfect for one-handed enjoyment. This allows for exploration of diverse ingredients in bite-sized portions., tThe arepa, on the other hand, is a thicker, disc-shaped patty made from pre-cooked cornmeal dough. It can be enjoyed whole or split open like a pita bread. Arepas prioritize the base itself, often serving as a hearty canvas for savory or sweet fillings.

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Flavor Fiesta: Spice Kings vs. Savory Stage

Tacos are known for their explosive flavor combinations. Proteins like al pastor (marinated pork), carnitas (braised pork), and barbacoa (slow-cooked beef) are paired with fresh salsas, onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. Spices come alive in every bite.

But arepas offer a milder flavor profile, allowing the fillings to take center stage. Shredded chicken, stews, and melty cheeses are popular choices. Fried or sweet fried plantains (patacones) can also be incorporated for a textural and tastebud adventure.

Both dishes hold, as anyone can see (and taste), A LOT of flavor. And although they might seem challenging to make or you might feel clueless when thinking about combining all these ingredients, at COCINA we have you covered so… drum rolls please…

Find a delicious way of making “Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos” or, if you feel more tempted by the arepas, discover how to make a special recipe known as “Reina Pepiada Arepas.”

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Regional Reigns: Mexican Marvels vs. Venezuelan-Colombian Crowns

Full disclosure, many Latin American countries still claim some dishes as theirs, and the origins of most of them are still unknown. At the same time, these dishes are also directly related to one country in particular. Like alfajores to Argentina, feijoada to Brazil and so on. 

We can all agree that no matter where they are from, arepas and tacos are indeed delicious. At the same time, here are some traditions that come from countries that are known from their recipes regarding these dishes in particular.

Tacos are considered a vibrant symbol of Mexican cuisine. Their variations span regions, from the fish tacos of Baja California to the barbacoa-filled tacos of central Mexico. Each region boasts its own unique flavors and techniques. Arepas are a cornerstone food in Venezuela and Colombia. They are enjoyed throughout the day, from breakfast arepas filled with cheese to heartier lunch and dinner options. Different regions within these countries may have their own signature fillings and cooking methods.

Both tacos and arepas are deeply woven into the cultural fabric of their respective countries, offering a glimpse into the rich culinary traditions of Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia. 

So, the next time you crave a taste of Latin America, remember – tacos and arepas offer distinct journeys for your senses. Whether you’re looking for a quick and flavorful bite with a variety of fillings (taco time!), or a hearty platform to showcase savory and sweet ingredients (arepa extravaganza!). There’s a delicious option waiting for you.

So grab your favorite fillings, fire up the grill, and get ready to celebrate the delightful diversity of Latin American cuisine!

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Sticky Cinnamon Buns

These homely and exquisite cinnamon buns will make you lick your fingers time and time again! A recipe from our guest Chef Shelly Gilad from Shelly’s Humble Kitchen.

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Turkey Leftover Quesadilla

Give your turkey leftovers a second life by frying it up with onions, garlic, and cranberry sauce. It makes the perfect sweet and savory filling for a quesadilla.

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