Winner: Arepa Pabellón
Restaurant: Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen, San Francisco
Food cost: $2
Creator: Adriana Lopez Vermut, proprietor
Ingredients: A grilled corn pocket stuffed with slow-cooked shredded beef, simmered with cilantro, garlic, cumin, bay leaf, leeks, bell peppers, onion and other spices, layered with black beans, fried sweet plantains and salty queso fresco with the restaurant’s signature Pica’Pun hot sauce (a family recipe).
What makes it special: Considered Venezuela’s national dish, the pabellón is typically served on a plate with rice, beans and plantains. It brings together flavors from the Caribbean, Spain and South America, which together represent Venezuela’s mestizaje roots. Here, however, the ingredients are stuffed into a grilled white corn arepa, which is a flat, round unleavened patty of maize that comes from indigenous tribes in the region. “I like to refer to this dish as Venezuela in a pocket,” Lopez Vermut said.