How to find Barocco, drive down Madison, and don't blink because is a plain vinyl siding store front with a plain black and white sign. There was plenty of free parking on the streets near by while we were there at the noonish hour. Again, this little store front that doesn't look like much (there are many delicious gems with plain store fronts in Cleveland!) but boy-0-boy does the food pack a culinary punch! Just delicious, flavorful, and Columbian street food that warms your heart.
chicken arepa with a side of fries
This Columbian style restaurant has only been around for less than a year, and I believe it will be around for a long delicious time! The specialty here is he arepa sandwich with a side of arepa fries. Arepas are street food sandwiches in parts of Columbia. The bread portion is a hominy based bread that is similar a very thick corn tortilla mixed with a polenta, and the bread is as sturdy as any wheat based bread. Juan and son, chefs and owners of this pop & son place, make the arepas in-house by hand everyday, and they make the arepas the traditional way (takes time to make these right) and they don't cut corners on this amazing corn based tortilla bread. The arepas a stuffed with corn, cheese (or no cheese for vegans), onions, peppers and a choice of protein (or not if vegan) including grilled diced chicken, beef, pork, chorizo, ham, bacon or tuna. I just think all of them are delicious! They also make their own arepas fries too from the arepas dough, deep fried like a French fry. OMG! I am still thinking about this meal! The best part about it, that one arepa cost only $6, and the with a side of arepa fries and a soda, you are looking at about $9-10 lunch. Take friends with you to share an order of the fries, as the arepas are filling enough for lunch. In addition to the arepas and arepa fries, are the traditional Columbian street food sauces, which are also made in-house in the traditional ways. The sauces are a spicy peanut, a creamy chimichurri, pineapple, ranchero, and creamy garlic on the day we were dining. My dining buddy asked Juan why the various sauces, and Juan said that these are the sauces that are traditionally offered at most any Columbian street food cart, so he offers them here.
On this day, we ordered the chorizo and the chicken arepas, regular fries and arepa fries. The chicken is arepa is diced chicken sauteed with corn, onions, green peppers, cheese and Columbian style spices. I am guessing there may be some salt, paprika and chilies in the spices for the chicken arepa and I am not sure what else. The chicken was well seasoned and delicious. The chorizo sandwich is filled with a Mexican style chorizo, corn, peppers, and cheese as well. The chorizo is spicy flavorful, not burn your face hot. The fries, well, I ordered regular fries because I did not know better. The regular fries are fine, and fair carrier for the delicious sauces. But, the really fries to order are the arepa fries. These are the hominy corn fries that are house-made by Juan everyday. These little gems are like no other French fry you will ever have. The inside is a little bit like polenta or grits, with the outside being nice and crunchy from being deep fried. The arepa fries are the perfect vehicle for the house-made sauces.
Another added bonus about this restaurant is that the owners are really nice. I mean they came out from behind the counter to say hello, and find out how we liked our meal. They genuinely want to know how we liked it, and they really hope they made scrumptious food we love to eat. We did love this food, not only because it was flavorful, and tasty, but we could really taste the tradition and love that goes into every part of the preparation of the dish. The owners are nice. And as I have said before, Nice goes a long way. Nice is just another bonus here, and will keep me coming back. Barocco, I will see you the next time I am in Cleveland. I love eating your arepas!