Adventures in Latin Street Food — via Lakewood

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I'd love to report that the road to all dining reviews includes a million thrilling food discoveries along the way. But the plain truth is that rare is the menu that is truly clever, creative and unique — if not in the world than at least Cleveland. Apart from the usual twists and tweaks, most menu items simply riff on an existing body of work.

Imagine my surprise then when we stumbled into Barroco Grill (12906 Madison Ave., 216-221-8127), a small and snazzy start-up in Lakewood. This casual new eatery specializes in Latin-inspired street food, with grilled meat skewers, Cubano sandwiches, and stuffed arepas.

Those arepas — puffy tortilla-like discs made with corn dough — are filled with chicken, steak or veggies and eaten like a sandwich. They are topped with your choice of killer house sauces, among them spicy peanut, chimichurri and ranchero. These little gems have my vote for Best New Street Food.

As good as those arepas are — not to mention Barroco's lush Cubanos — we went absolutely bat shit over the arepa fries and cheesy corn. Served alongside a molten crock of melted cheese, chicken, bacon and corn are fried arepas. Cut into fingers and deep fried until crisp, the arepa fries are for dipping into the fondue. This is the Latin version of cheesy fries — and it may be the best drunk food in town.

Prices are $3 for a cheese arepa, $5 for cheesy corn, and $6 for the Cuban. The menu also includes hot dogs, BLTs and burgers served on arepas.

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