The new location (7281 Biscayne Blvd.), which shares a shopping center with the original Ni.Do. Caffé and Flavorish Market, is the first step in some major expansion plans for the restaurant. Next year they’ll also be popping up at the Central Fair marketplace where the Miami-Orlando Brightline train will stop, a crucial location to introduce all types of tourists and travelers to the handheld corn cake.
Co-owner Carlos Estevez credits Doggi's success to the quality of its core offering. “We re-invented the arepa. The traditional arepa does not look like this. Some of them are soggy; they have a lot of filling in the middle and get your hands dirty. Ours have amazing texture and are crispy."
Along with a new location, the arepa bar also received a facelift. Estevez said he wanted to do away with the traditional folkloric look and incorporate a youthful vibe into the brand. A wall is covered with hashtags he stated that they’ve popularized like #arepa, #curda, and #chevre and each table is stamped the same way with some that read #bendicion, #conchale, and #naguara. They’ve decided to keep the wallpaper collage with traditional Venezuelan products to maintain a homey vibe but instead of Oscar D’León, Phoenix blasts from the speakers.
Estevez credits his business partners, mother Yoleida
“In reality, this has all been a team effort,” Estevez said. “It’s a family business, and it’s taken a lot of sacrifices. My brother had an idea to open a brick-and-mortar. We fight a lot like any family but we love each other, and our mother is the glue that keeps us together. She takes care of the books, I’m the chef, and my brother does social media and other business matters.”
A couple of tables down a pair of Colombian brothers discussed the flavors of the arepas and the Lavazza dark roast ground espresso they drank. It was their first time at the restaurant, which they found via Instagram even though they knew about the flagship location on Coral Way.
Guillermo Orjuela ordered the arepa de pabellon with shredded beef ($10.50) and Juan Pablo chose the arepa reina pepiada with chicken salad ($7.99) and the cachapa a traditional yellow corn pancake with farmer’s cheese ($8.50).
“I thought the arepa was very delicious. Everyone knows Venezuelan arepas are recognized worldwide for the flavor and Venezuelans make the best arepa in the world, “ Guillermo laughed. “I know this for a fact. They take first place and Colombia takes second place, and this is a Colombian saying this.”
Estevez agrees. “We want the arepa to be known because of Venezuelans. If [Doggi’s] name is attached to it, then that’s great, but we just want people to know about the Venezuelan arepa."
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