Coupa Cafe – Beverly Hills, CA

When it comes to experiencing new and exciting restaurants, having family in Los Angeles is like having the key to Fort Knox. It is known as one of the food capitals of the world with endless options from destinations across the globe. On our last visit to the City of Angels my cousin took us to Coupa Café in Beverly Hills. Having a knack for finding great food and service is one of my cousin’s standout hostess qualities. She loves to experience new food just like Mr. Traveler and I, so anytime she has something out of the ordinary to try she saves it for us. And for that we are thankful.

Coupa Café started off as a coffee shop bringing Venezuelan coffee directly from farmers in South America supporting organic and fair trade ingredients. After sustaining a booming business in multiple locations the locally family owned café decided to incorporate culinary dishes into the menu.

You can choose from authentic Venezuelan selections as well as more “American friendly” selections for those a little wary of taking a walk on the wild side. Per usual we decided to wander over to the wild side and ordered a few appetizing selections.

The staff was very polite, explaining dishes that we didn’t quite understand and made ordering very simple. Needless to say upon first bite of our appetizer we were pleased beyond imagination. The flavor was outstanding. Our plates were filled with exotic aromas tempting our senses.

For our appetizers we tried the EMPANADITAS and the waiter’s recommendation, MINI CACHAPAS. The empanaditas were fried traditional mini empanadas topped with chicken and queso blanco; a soft un-aged white cheese. The empanadas were light and fluffy; the light green dipping sauce added the perfect amount of flavor.

The mini cachapas were mini corn pancakes with a queso topping similar to melted mozzarella. The texture and look closely resembles your mom’s homemade pancakes on Saturday morning minus the dripping syrup. In place of maple syrup the dipping sauce was queso de mano, a cheese commonly used as a filling for Venezuelan arepas and cachapas. Both appetizers came with more than enough to share but left us craving more.

Each of us sampled a different entrée to get the total experience and try the most possibilities. Mr. Traveler decided to try the PABELLON AREPA. My cousin ordered her favorite dish, PABELLON ESPECIADADES DE LA CASA. And I stepped out of my own comfort zone and sampled the PABELLON EMPANADAS. When people say a picture is worth a thousand words they have never ate at Coupa Cafe. My taste buds could have spoken an endless amount of adjectives for the food that had been placed on our table. My camera could only capture a sample of the flavor that you could taste.

Mr. Traveler’s dish, was a cornmeal sandwich loaded with carne mechada (shredded beef), black beans, sweet fried plantains, and queso. It was coupled with a side salad to soften the spices. It was described as savory but sweet from the plantains smothered on the inside. Although delicious, he was disappointed in the size of the sandwich. It was about the size of an English muffin. Luckily, he was allowed to share with my cousin and I.

The traveling cousin had warned us how much food came with her order and insisted we help her eat it. Her plate was jam-packed with shredded chicken, black beans, rice, sweet fried plantains, arepitas, nata, and queso blanco. The typical dish would come with shredded beef but she opted for the chicken instead. There is also the option to order veggie. The chicken was spicy but very delicious when paired with the accompanying rice and beans to calm the sizzle. The sweet plantains were also wonderful on their own opposed to  being in a sandwich like Mr. Traveler’s arepa or my empanada. This plate is definitely not for the faint of heart unless you are planning on sharing.

My entrée was more than pleasing. Resembling a large Jamaican beef patty or Italian calzone, my empanada satisfied my passion for spicy foods. It was stuffed with carne mechada, black beans, sweet fried plantains, and queso paisa (like mozzarella but saltier). The outside was fried and sealed, upon the first bite the delectable flavors melted in my mouth. I could taste each flavor from the spicy beef to the sweet plantains. Mine was also coupled with a salad and was almost too much for one person.

The overall atmosphere is aesthetically pleasing and warming at the same time. They have some outdoor seating available on warmer evenings. It has the feel of a small café although many can be seated inside. We coupled our meal with an amazing Italian Prosecco wine that was the perfect combination of spirits to share. We will return on our next visit to Los Angeles and highly recommend visiting one of their locations if you ever get the chance. Don’t be afraid to try something you have never had and eat off each other’s plates to get the full spectrum. It is a place that welcomes friends, families, and couples alike and they will treat you like family while you dine.

Restaurants like Coupa Café are what we consider to be rare finds and the reason we started this adventure together. When you pair an atmosphere of learning with great camaraderie plus foods that are better when shared you get a memorable experience that words and photos can only describe.

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