Mama Ana’s brings classic Colombian arepas to the Lowcountry


Ana’s Arepas are stuffed with fillings like guava and cheese | Photo by Rūta Smith

The pandemic provided food and beverage industry veteran Ana Alexandra the time to start a concept churning out arepas, a traditional Colombian treat rarely found in the Lowcountry. 

These Colombian cornmeal cakes are made using water, masa flour and salt and can be baked, fried or grilled. They come in different shapes and sizes and are traditionally found in Venezuela and Colombia, where Alexandra’s mother grew up. 

“My mom was born and raised in a little town outside of Cali, Colombia, and lived there until she was 23,” said Alexandra, who moved to Charleston in 2013. “I used to go there as a kid, and eating that food was always one of my favorite things.” 

Alexandra said only a handful of Charleston food trucks serve arepas, mostly as side dishes, and she couldn’t even find a frozen version at the local specialty grocery store. So she took matters into her own hands. 

“During the quarantine, I started cooking Colombian food because I had the extra time,” said Alexandra, who found her initial arepa recipe online. 

“To be honest, it’s three ingredients: water, salt and masa, and you kind of just have to nail the hydration and the humidity,” she said. 

You might recognize Alexandra from her Instagram account @beergirlmeetsworld where she chronicles her adventures at local bars and breweries. She’s also worked at Daps Breakfast & Imbibe, Holy City Brewing, Freehouse Brewing, Melfi’s, Little Jack’s Tavern and most recently Herd Provisions, where she first served her arepas during a staff family meal in July. 

She received a five-star review from her coworkers, so when Herd Provisions was forced to temporarily close due to the pandemic, she turned arepa-making into a small business, launching Mama Ana’s in mid-July. Alexandra makes her arepas each week in the Herd Provisions kitchen before selling them online for pickup or delivery. 

Ana’s Arepas are stuffed with fillings like guava and cheese | Photo by Rūta Smith

The first few batches of Mama Ana’s arepas, which are pan fried in a cast iron skillet, were relatively simple, but she quickly expanded the operation to include fillings like guava and cheese (Bocadillo) and sweet pepper relish. She later added Herd Provisions meat to the menu with her Desayuno (sausage and cheese) arepa. 

Order three Mama Ana’s arepas for $13, six for $25 or 12 for $45. She’s also selling homemade jams, two rotating meat sauces and crispy arepitas chips. 

To place an order, send Alexandra a direct message to her Instagram account @mamaanasarepas, or visit one of her pop-ups at local establishments like Two Blokes Brewing or Fatty’s Beer Works, where she’ll be on Oct. 10 from 3-7 p.m. 

“I’m really kind of just winging it,” she said. “I feel lucky that I get to eat arepas everyday.” 

For more information and to place an order, follow Mama Ana’s on Instagram
@mamaanasarepas.

Support the Charleston City Paper

We’ve been covering Charleston since 1997 and plan to be here with the latest and Best of Charleston for many years to come. In a time where local journalism is struggling, the City Paper is investing in the future of Charleston as a place where diverse, engaging views can flourish. We can't do it without our readers. If you'd like to support local, independent journalism:

UP NEXT FROM

FEATURE

Jaime Harrison and 6 other ways the 2020 election has been different

Sam Spence

More than $100 will likely be spent to secure each of the 2 million-plus votes to be cast in South Carolina’s 2020 U.S. Senate election. The historic spending spree by incumbent U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison and other groups has turned up the pressure in an already-busy political season with the presidential […]


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Halloween 2020: Masks on masks and social-distanced spooks

Halloween 2020 is sure to be like no other we’ve experienced, but that does not mean it’s canceled. With masked masquerades, socially distanced costume contests, drive-in theaters, and more, we’re bringing your Halloween plans back from the dead. LET THE FRIGHTS COME TO YOU (DRIVE INS AND REMOTE EVENTS) For the West Ashley folks; the […]

The Agenda: SC can’t disqualify ballots over signatures; King Street sample ban considered

Federal judge rules S.C. election boards cannot reject absentee ballots due to mismatched signatures. A federal judge ruled that local election boards can’t reject mail in ballots because of mismatched signatures. There is nothing in the state laws, rules, or regulations that says the signatures have to match. Source: AP City Council considers banning free […]

Jaime Harrison and 6 other ways the 2020 election has been different

More than $100 will likely be spent to secure each of the 2 million-plus votes to be cast in South Carolina’s 2020 U.S. Senate election. The historic spending spree by incumbent U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison and other groups has turned up the pressure in an already-busy political season with the presidential […]

Blotter: Stickin’ around

The Blotter is taken from reports filed with Charleston Police Department between Oct. 14 and Oct. 19. No one described in this section has been found guilty, just unlucky. Blotter o’ the week: A woman reported her car stolen after she parked it on East Bay Street while having dinner and was unable to find […]