Street eats and sweet treats

Colombian comfort in Kettering

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Colombian platter at Arepas & Co.

Imagine a little Colombian grandma stirring a fragrant stew, then imagine the sights and tantalizing cooking smells of a busy city thoroughfare. You’ll experience both at Arepas & Co., a new Kettering eatery which highlights home cooking and street food. The restaurant doesn’t feature grilled platters such as the Colombian national dish bandeja paiasa. Instead, according to co-owner and Kettering native Lisa Perdomo, it’s comfort food, the kind of food she ate every day in Colombia and craved once she got back to Ohio.

Second Street Market patrons will already be familiar with Arepas & Co. from their popular booth, open since 2012. After this new location in Kettering is up and running, Perdomo hopes to expand to three or four more locations in surrounding areas.

Street eats

Perdomo, whose husband is Colombian, laughed as she recounted discovering her love for arepas. “As we were walking through the city I ordered an arepa piled high with beans, meat and sauce. As I tried to eat, I was embarrassed to see how it dripped down my arm and onto my shirt. But as I looked around, I noticed everyone else had the same problem, and no one seemed to care!”

Just what is an arepa? That’s what PIP (Palate In Progress) and I set out to discover at the bright red building on East Dorothy Lane near Wilmington Pike. Finding the entrance was a trick. The restaurant is not visible until you have nearly passed by. It sits way back at the end of a narrow driveway, with only a small sandwich board, reading “Colombian Comfort Food.” It’s a small informal place with patio seating for about 20 and only a little more inside. Arepas & Co. doesn’t offer table service, but everything you need to know about Colombian food is handled with friendly charm by Renee, who serves up expert ordering advice from behind the walk-up counter.

The menu is not extensive, divided into appetizer “Quick Bites” and main dish “Platters.” We had to begin with arepas, of course. There are two kinds, a savory version ($5) and a sweet, arepa choclo ($6). The savory is a white cornmeal patty with cheese. The sweet is very sweet, made with yellow cornmeal and served sandwich style with melted mozzarella cheese. Both are gluten free, as are most of Arepas & Co.’s menu items, and both were filling and hearty. We also sampled the tasty deep-fried empanadas ($5) served with any of the five sauces offered.

Sauce boss

Oh, the sauces! Fortunately they are available to take home – and you will want to do just that. There are five main sauces offered: garlic mayonnaise; Pique (described as “el scorcho”); Rosada, a combo of ketchup lime and mayonnaise; creamy cilantro with onion and lime; and Hogao, with tomato, garlic and scallion. PIP’s advice to the uninitiated who may be slightly wary: “Try a sauce. It will be your favorite. Until you try the next one.” High praise indeed from one who claims to be “not a sauce guy.”

He’s right. They each seem to enhance whatever you order equally well. There’s no right sauce for any dish. Part of the fun of the experience is dunking whatever morsel happens to be on your fork into all of them to experience each unique and complementary taste. However, a word of advice on the Pique: it’s EXTREMELY hot and should be dipped carefully instead of dunked.

Platter please!

The Columbian Platter ($6) is a combo of rice, fried plantains and a choice of beans and meat. Renee served up a hefty portion of tender braised marinated pork with a little schnibble of beef for PIP, who was waffling over which to choose. She also provided black and red beans so we could try both, and was patient and enthusiastic with our questions about each dish’s preparation and ingredients.

When there’s an item on a menu called “A Party In Your Mouth” I don’t need to think twice about my order. The Mazurca Desgranada ($6) was delivered with a festive combination of fresh corn, beans, marinated meat, mild cotija cheese and a crunchy confetti of crushed chips. It comes with three sauces, and I asked Renee to serve it in the typical way with the Rosada, garlic mayonnaise and the creamy cilantro. Visually exciting, and satisfying with an array of textures, tastes and temperatures (due to my addition of Pique sauce), that’s a party I’d go to again.

Pollo Guisado ($6), a savory homey stew made from chicken thighs slow-cooked with bell peppers, green beans and carrots, along with Patacon con Todo ($6), fried plantains topped with fillings and sauce, round out the main dish choices. The stew looked particularly tempting, the advantage to being able to see it steaming behind the walk-up counter.

With our dinners, we drank guava and pineapple sodas on the outside patio, and noticed those around us opening picnic coolers with wine and beer. Renee informed us plans are underway for a wine and beer license, with approval unexpected in the next few months. In the meantime, patrons are welcome to bring their own libations.

Arepas & Co. offers two typical Latin American favorites for dessert choices, a Tres Leches cake and a flan. Both are $3, and both are very sweet and rich. Our bill with tip (cash tips only – there’s a jar at the counter) came to a very reasonable $27.23.

If you go, look for PIP and me. We will be the very full people with the bunch of very empty plates in front of us. And a big bag of sauces to take home.

Arepas & Co. is located at 1122 E. Dorothy Lane in Kettering. For more information, please call 937.503.5192 or visit

Reach DCP freelance writer Paula Johnson at

Tags: , ,

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Got an Opinion?


We are interested to hear what you think.  Please send us a message. [contact-form 4 “Opinion”]  

Springfield’s hidden gem


Referred to as an American Folk Art site, I didn’t know what I expected on my journey to Springfield’s Hartman […]

Debate 7/17: Flag on the Play


Q: Should persons with certain known behavioral tendencies such as suicide or violence be prohibited from owning guns? Legislatures across […]

Conspiracy Theorist 7/17: Hooray for Domino’s

Year after year, the same roads are torn up and road crews patch them. But they never really repair them. […]

On Your Marc 7/17: Good any day

First, a funny story. Larry Lee, the big tackle from Roth High School, for a number of reasons decided he […]

The Cult, Stone Temple Pilots, and Bush at Rose

CULT 2016 Tim Cadiente-2

“Rock and roll never forgets,” the classic rock song goes, and Billy Duffy, guitarist and founding member of the British […]