Venezuelan food is a cultural melting pot, combining influences from the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and beyond. But it hasn’t received the same international acclaim as some other Latin cuisines, particularly in Australia. Reveka Hurtado is out to change that with Papelón, her catering operation-turned-restaurant on the fringes of Footscray Market.

At this sunny, orange diner, Hurtado shows that Latin food is “more than just tacos”. The menu might feature deep-fried corn-meal empanadas stuffed with chicken, beef or vegetables; breaded queso sticks called tequeños served with cane sugar (or papelón) syrup for dipping; and hallacas, corn-meal parcels filled with olives, raisins and meat, then wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed to serve.

Mains include sancocho, a Latin-Caribbean stew made with starchy green plantains, cassava, potato, corn on the cob and beef broth; pabellón, a mixed plate of rice, black beans, pulled beef and the sweet contrast of ripe, fried plantains; and arepas with your choice of filling, from chicken and avocado to pulled pork and birria.

Before Papelon, Hurtado ran Venezuelan restaurants with her family in Chile – and eventually moved to Australia on her own. Here, she lives her passion for enabling the Latin community to reconnect with their culture and peers through food.

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Updated: April 4th, 2024

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