Express Bakery Café is a hangout for South Florida Venezuelans in a small strip mall behind a BP gas station in Miami Lakes. It has authentic dishes served fast.
All the Venezuelan staples are here: arepas (griddled corncakes with fillings), cachapas (sweet and savory corn pancakes), and sopa de res (beef soup). Glass cases hold cakes, cookies, pastries, empanadas and breads in the pleasant space hung with fairy lights. Breakfast comes with eggs, carne mechada (shredded beef), cheese, an arepa and coffee.
Owner Luis Edwardo Polo is from Caracas and learned to cook with his mother. He studied business administration and opened a cafeteria in a college in the capital city, and then worked for the Don Pan bakery chain, which brought him to Miami in 1995. Eight years ago he bought an outlet and changed it to a Venezuelan café, hiring a baker and pastry chef. His Honduran wife, Cherly, works the register. The owners don’t speak English, but some helpers do. The menu is in Spanish, so come with a Latin friend.
Arepas here have fun names like the La Gato (the cat), slit and stuffed with white cheese, sweet plantains and avocado; El Troly with cheese and bacon (named after the Trolley, a diner in Caracas) and Reina Pepiada (beauty queen) for a Miss World from Venezuela who was known for her polka dot dress. The arepa is stuffed with chicken and avocado salad with small green peas (the dots). Corn pancakes are spread with butter and nata (sour cream) and folded over slabs of soft white cheese.
During December there are holiday specials such as hallacas (meat tamales) tinted orange with annatto seeds and steamed in banana leaves; pernil (roast pork); asado negro (pot roast in dark sauce) and pan de jamon (bread rolled up with ham, raisins and olives).