Carolicious Arepas Bring Venezuela to HubWeek immigrant restaurateurs bring flavor to boston one arepa at a time

By Zoe Pantazelos

Music, food, art, and innovation came together at the "Foreign Born, Boston Built, Immigrant Led" event on Tuesday night in Boston’s Seaport District to kick off HubWeek. Following a panel discussion in which foreign-born founders of Boston companies shared what the future looks like for immigrant-driven innovation, the food came out.

Amid the bustle of HubWeek events, Carolina García had a mini outdoor kitchen set up where she served her restaurant's specialty dish: arepas. A Venezuelan delicacy, an arepa is a small corn flour patty and stuffed with fillings such as cheese, plantains, beef, and vegetables. According to García, not a day goes by where arepas are not enjoyed in some Venezuelan households.

"Food means family, roots, tradition. The taste of things is what we normally will remember from our family." - Carolina García
Carolina García prepares an assortment of arepas for HubWeek in Boston's Seaport District on October 1, 2019. The gluten-free arepas are grilled before they receive their respective toppings. Pictured on the far left is the "Capresa Cream," with tomato, mozzarella, and García's signature basil sauce. The near set is composed of the "Best Buddies" arepa with cream of plantain, mozzarella, and basil sauce.

García and her friend Carolina Salinas immigrated to the United States together in August 2015 from Caracas, Venezuela with the plan to open a business. García's son was studying in the U.S. at the time, so she decided to leave behind her home country and create a new life in America. When the two women arrived in the U.S., they were not exactly sure what to do but soon realized they could turn their culinary talents into a business.

Carolicious is a restaurant started by Carolina García and Carolina Salinas, often referred to as "las Carolinas." The restaurant opened on August 29, 2019 within Aeronaut Brewing Company's Foods Hub in Somerville, Massachusetts. While Salinas was not present at HubWeek, García served up three different types of mini arepas for HubWeek attendees to sample.

While participating in an immigrant entrepreneurship program called Nibble offered by the Somerville Arts Council, “las Carolinas” perfected their gluten-free arepas and started to sell them throughout the greater Boston area. Now, after three years as entrepreneurs with Nibble, the two women have achieved their dream of opening their own restaurant, Carolicious.

García's former spouse, José Colmenares, assisted her at HubWeek and is a regular helper with the restaurant. According to Colmenares, García was invited to serve her food at HubWeek through connections she made in her previous entrepreneurship program endeavors.

García and Colmenares worked continuously over the course of two hours to feed a constant stream of people. García says it takes her just five minutes to cook her mini arepas, from grilling the corn dough to placing the signature toppings.

Why arepas? García explains that "it is the main dish in our country. Normally, we grow up eating arepas for breakfast or for dinner."

José Colmenares serves arepas to hungry HubWeek attendees on October 1, 2019 in the Lot at HubWeek.

Zhenya Karelina, a graduate student at MIT, and Neishay Ayub were among the HubWeek attendees lined up to get a sample. Ayub said she had won free tickets to HubWeek from work. Both described the food as "really good."

Zhenya Karelina (left) and Neishay Ayub enjoy the food in the Lot.

García says the best part of her job is "meeting a lot of people and getting feedback from them that they really love [our food]".

García and Colmenares putting the finishing touches on a batch of arepas from their makeshift outdoor kitchen at HubWeek.

Carolicious will be in permanent resident in the Aeronaut Foods Hub in Somerville. The menu includes the three arepas featured at HubWeek, in addition to several other types. Other Venezuelan staples such as empanadas and pabellón are part of the menu as well.

"We try to let people know that Venezuela exists," said García. "That's our flavor, that's our roots, and that's why we love to have food as a window to the people."

Created By
Zoe Pantazelos


Created with an image by canliga - "corn chef kitchen"