Several years ago, there was a Venezuelan restaurant on Madison Avenue in Memphis called Arepa & Salsa. I met a friend there for lunch one day and was introduced to the arepa — the Venezuelan corn patty. The fried or grilled patties are typically stuffed with meat, but Arepa & Salsa offered a black bean option. I ate there a number of times before it closed.
Though I was super-sad about its closing, I was happy to see a new Venezuelan restaurant open in its place. Sabor Caribe opened at 662 Madison not long after Arepa & Salsa closed. That was a couple years back, and I don't know how on earth it's taken me so long to try it, but I FINALLY ate at Sabor Caribe last week. They have a black bean option for their arepa sandwich! YAY! I ordered the Veggie Arepa (minus the mozzarella) with a side of Yucca Fries.
The vegan version of the Veggie Arepa is stuffed with black beans, tomato, and avocado. You can order the arepa patty grilled or fried. I went grilled since I knew I'd be having a side of fries. Balance, right? The patty is soft and warm on the inside and lightly crisp on the outside, and it's flavor is somewhere between a corn tortilla and cornbread.
The yucca fries were amazing as well. Though I don't get to eat it often, yucca is among my favorite foods. I think it's WAY better than a potato (especially when it's deep-fried) due to yucca's high starch content. If you're not familiar with yucca, it's the starchy root of the yucca plant. It's also called cassava, which is one of the main ingredients in Daiya vegan cheese.
Sabor Caribe also has fried plantains as a side. And I'd imagine you could order the traditional Venezuelan plate Pabellon vegan-style. It normally comes with black beans, rice, plantains, and shredded beef, but they're super-nice, and I'm sure they'd leave the beef off if asked.
Sabor Caribe is located at 662 Madison. Call 901-425-5889.