Detroit – Whether stuffed with juicy steak or packed with shredded chicken, you’re sure to love the Venezuelan sandwiches at El Rey De Las Arepas.
“At the beginning, it was like a family idea,” explains Rayner Gutierrez, the owner. “We always bring the arepas, and people always love the arepas.”
He said it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are, everyone finds something to love in these sandwiches wrapped in a corn-based bread. So in 2014, he opened up a restaurant with the help of his family on Detroit’s west side.
“When I came to the United States, they used to call me Ray. We pretty much put that together like ‘rey’ and arepas, and so we did El Rey De Las Arepas, which means the king of arepas,” says Gutierrez.
The tasty sandwiches are not the only thing he serves; he has a menu full of Venezuelan dishes. If you want something fun, start your meal with some Papas Locas, or crazy fries, which are smothered in shredded beef, cheese, and their popular sauces. If you want to go more classic try their empanadas, or the cachapa which is similar to a pancake, but made with a corn base and stuffed with cheese. The Bandeja Paisa is a great sampler platter with their signature Venezuelan black beans, chicharron, steak, rice, an egg, fried plantains, and a mini arepa. To wash it all down you have to try their passion fruit juice.
All this Venezuelan food caught the attention of local Venezuelans, including a few Detroit Tigers.
“Venezuelans love baseball,” says Gutierrez. “When we came to the United States we always supported Venezuelan people.”
So when Miguel Cabrera joined the Tigers, they were very excited. They would attend games proudly waving the Venezuelan flag and that got them noticed by the popular player. When they opened the restaurant Cabrera came to check it out. He loved it so much he brought other Tigers with him and it soon became a favorite.
Former Tigers player Francisco José Rodríguez, also known as K-Rod has a sandwich named after him. He received this honor after generously paying for an expensive surgery Gutierrez’s aunt needed to remove a brain tumor. The sandwich is a patacón, which uses a fried and smashed plantain as its bun. It is stuffed with steak, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, and their two signature sauces.
For more information, watch the video above.
If you want to try El Rey De las Arepas it is located at 7701 McGraw Avenue in Detroit.