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Arepas & tequeños & empanadas, oh my!

It lies on an inconspicuous strip mall on Harper and 12 Mile, inviting hungry customers in with a streetside sign. Their food truck parked outside, a celebration of Detroit and Venezuelan culture, emits the pleasant scent of arepas, tequenos and more. Its name? Papelon Market Cafe.

Opened last year, Papelon Market Cafe sprouted from husband Fernando Gonzalez and wife Maria Narvaez’s food truck, Papelon Arepa Bar. They have operated the food truck since 2016 and its popularity led them to open a physical store where their second food truck resides permanently on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Walking in, the atmosphere of the restaurant evokes casual dining. Neon signs and beautiful murals allow every person to feel at home. A shopping corner allows customers to shop for their favorite Venezuelan goods they can’t find anywhere else. Above all else, an ambiance of unpretentious food allows anyone new to Venezuelan food and culture to dip their toes easily and feel at home right away.

Whether for here or to go, Papelon Market Cafe offers many tasty drinks, snacks and bowls that are quite outstanding. To start, nobody can visit a Venezuelan restaurant without trying one of the most famous foods from there: arepas. For those unfamiliar, arepas are flat, round cornmeal cakes that come stuffed with typically some sort of meat, cheese or beans. Beef, queso de mano, plantains and beans: Papelon Market boasts a wide array of fillings for their white corn arepas—all of which are excellent.

While arepas may be one of the most notable Venezuelan dishes, Papelon Market Cafe’s best dish was their cachapas, a type of yellow corn pancake. Faultlessly balancing sweet and savory, the restaurant’s cachapas are generously packed with any filling of your choice, and it’s hard to ignore their size. The giant pancakes come in generous sizes that certainly maximize your bang for your buck. If you’re hungry enough to eat a cow, cachapas are the dish for you.

The only thing better than their food is the warmth of the employees and owners. Even if you aren’t familiar with their menu, they will take the time to sit down and explain what something is to assuage any worries. The owners personally ensure that every customer’s time at their restaurant leaves with a good impression of Venezuela and its food, something on which they pride themselves.

Overall, Papelon Market Cafe is perfect for anyone looking to try something outside of the typical Mexican version of Latin food with its informal ambiance. With its wide array of options, Papelon Market Cafe has something for every person’s taste.

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Paul Kaminski '24
Paul Kaminski '24, Supervising Copy Editor
In a busy and action-packed life with swimming, cross country, track, quiz bowl and DECA, Supervising Copy Editor Paul Kaminski ’24 still finds time to enjoy the little things in life.“I’m a big fan of salsa music, I feel like it includes a lot of rhythmic variation,” Kaminski said. “I think it’s a very nice genre—especially when you can understand Spanish—and I feel it really helped me to get a good score on the AP Spanish test.”Listening to salsa music isn’t something new for Kaminski.“The first time I heard it I was sitting in a little gray and black speckled computer chair,” Kaminski said. “ My dad put on the music video for a song by a singer called Celia Cruz, and I really enjoyed it. I was spinning around in my chair like a maniac.”For Kaminski, the Tower is a great way for him to express his ideas that he wouldn’t normally be able to.“You can experiment with photography, opinion writing, graphic design, and film criticism all in the same class,” Kaminski said.

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