Cafe Bolivar

I stumbled across this place when i was idly surfing yelp – and i’ve been nothing but impressed since then. If you’ve never had arepas, this is the place to be. Hidden in the heart of Santa Monica behind a drab exterior, its a gallery/coffee shop/brazilian restaurant all rolled into one.

Image stolen ruthlessly from

I’ve tasted their brazilian mocha, as well as both the domino and pacifico arepas (pictured below) – all were nearly perfect. The pacifico, in true California form, has thin slices of mango, avocado, and gruyere cheese, leading to a generally epic flavor profile. Friends of mine who enjoy flesh have spoken favorably of every other type of arepa on their menu – shit, even their house salad rocks.

Arepa's at Cafe Bolivar. I had mango and avocado, with gruyere...wonderful!

Just today I went and tried out the Vegan Torta – a different variety of sandwich, using only what I can qualify as french bread – and it was fantastic. Another family friend gave the Chicken Caesar sandwich w/soup dujour a shot…but with only lukewarm reviews.

I’d stick to the vegan/vegetarian options here. They don’t seem to treat their meat well, but I’d say thats a good thing!

Chicken Caesar on the left (eclipsed by the massive man paw), Vegan Torta on the right.

Take some time – when its bright and sunny, and the breeze blows just so that the faintest hint of ocean air hits you – and sit outside. Order a variety of arepas and coffee and wait, since the servers bring your food to you without expectation of compensation (though I suggest you tip, they aren’t the fastest kitchen i’ve encountered…so don’t come on a tight time schedule)

Maybe plan the rest of the day while you enjoy your slightly spicy house salad, and enjoy the eye candy as the beach babes exit their expensive Santa Monica properties, their hemp shoulder bags slung ever so casually across perfectly tanned shoulders-

take my word for it. You need the break, and Cafe Bolivar is a great place to take it.



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Hot delicious mess

Before we get started, know this – the idea came from a damn good friend of mine, Jacob, and was prepared at 1 am while doing shots – so my measurements are most definitely off a bit.

Still, for something this haphazard, that shouldn’t matter. We grabbed the random shit floating around my apt, combined it with a few things he’d brought, and before our bleary eyes realized it we’d made a masterpiece.

The Pieces

Prep Time:10 mins

Cook Time: 45 mins – 1 hour

  • 1 16 oz can whole tomatoes, seeded (save a bit of juice)
  • Most of a 16 oz bag of shredded cheddar and mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 a stick of salted butter
  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 1 bigass sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 large brown onion, diced
  • 1 12 oz can of sweet peas, drained
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • fresh cracked black pepper
  • some oregano (i think?)

The Puzzle

0. Preheat oven to 375

1. Chop time: dice your peeled potatoes and onion.

2. Throw the onion into a glass casserole dish on high heat, and sweat until barely translucent. Remove the pan from the heat, and take the onions out (adding them in later)

3. Put your diced potatoes in the pan with the onion oil, and get that in the oven for 15 minutes

4. Take 3-4 shots of cheap whiskey

5. Drain and seed your tomatoes. Roughly chop and add to the potatoes after the 15 mins is up.

6. Add your reserve tomato juice and peas, and let cook for approx 45 minutes or until the potatoes are just barely fork tender

7. Mix beaten eggs with some cheese and the remaining spice you feel like adding- at least pepper and cayenee.

8. Pour this over the top and mix into the casserole dish

9. Copiously cover with cheese

10. Cook until nicely browned on top

11. Bask in your friends adoration at your pure fucking awesome skill

Bottle of rum on the right, beer on the left...