Located on the outskirts of Downtown Binghamton, Happy Pappi’s Arepas Bar is an excellent choice if you’re looking to try something new. Located at 252 Chenango St., the restaurant offers patrons the opportunity to sample authentic Venezuelan street food at a good price.

The owner of the restaurant, Luis Carrillo, is a native Venezuelan whose goal is to bring traditional and affordable Venezuelan food to the Binghamton area. Customers are in for a treat when they see the portion sizes of the food that Happy Pappi serves. As a family-run establishment, both Luis and his wife provided customers with great and speedy service during our visit.

Happy Pappi’s advertised an $18 lunch and a $30 dinner on their menu for Restaurant Week. The restaurant advertised offered patrons the choice to choose from one of two options on their menu for each part of the three-course meal. My photographer, Aidan, and I were excited to try the food after the owner and his wife showed us some of the meals that were going to be served to the other patrons in the restaurant. We agreed it would be best if each of us tried one of the two options from each course to get the full experience.

We visited Happy Pappi’s during dinner, which was great as it allowed us to take our time trying all the dishes. From the moment we arrived, the place advertised a warm and welcoming environment, with its colorful artwork against the backdrop of the mahogany brick wall, accompanied by the fast service the owners provided.

For the first course, there was the option of tequeños, which are deep-fried pieces of pastry dough stuffed with cheese, and two mini empanadas, made of deep-fried gluten-free cornmeal dough that was either filled with beans or chorizo, served with a side of garlic sauce. The tequeños were flavorful even though the filling was only made of cheese. However, both Aidan and I agreed that the mini empanadas were our favorite. The mini empanadas took the cake, as they were stuffed to the brim with both beans and chorizo. At the suggestion of the owner, we tried the empanadas alongside their homemade empanada sauce, adding a bit more flavor to the already savory empanadas.

The second course offered bigger meals for patrons to try, and we were both taken aback by the portion sizes of the main meals. Aidan chose the arepas, which are a traditional Venezuelan dish made from ground corn. The restaurant offers a variety of different stuffings for their arepas, such as chorizo, shredded beef, chicken and pulled pork. Aidan ordered the la pelua arepa, with its main ingredients being shredded beef and sauteed onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes, and it arrived wrapped in a little tray reminiscent of food trucks in New York City.

I went for the Patacone, and it did not disappoint. The Patacone is Happy Pappi’s original take on the traditional sandwich, as it swaps out the bread for toasted plantains. The Patacone itself was stuffed to the brim with ham, shredded beef, cheese, tomatoes, avocado and boiled eggs. The plantains themselves were crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and the beef was juicy and tender. The Patacone was the highlight of the night and its generous portion size is great for leftovers. It is also very pleasing to look at, as Aidan spent around five minutes trying to get the perfect picture of the Patacone.

Happy Pappi’s offers a variety of homemade sauces to go alongside the meals. Ranging from spicy to sweet, there is something for everyone to try. There was the guasacaca sauce, which was made from avocado and cilantro sauce, and there was the mojito, made with spicy red peppers. While Aidan and I were not really craving anything spicy, we both agreed to try the sauces and came to the unanimous decision that the guasacaca sauce was our favorite, as it paired well with both the empanadas and the patacone.

For dessert, we chose the tres leches cake, which is a sponge cake popular across Latin America. The cake itself was sweet and had a hint of cinnamon on it, which we both enjoyed.

With attentive service and generous portion sizes, Happy Pappi’s is a great place for students to visit if they are looking for a great meal at a reasonable price during Restaurant Week.