TRI-TAYLOR — A diner and cafe serving arepas, pastelitos, lattes and more is open in the Tri-Taylor area, offering both traditional Venezuelan and American-fusion dishes.
Typica Diner & Cafe opened at 2325 W. Taylor St. last month, only 10 months after owners Daniel Soria and Karen Diaz opened the first Typica Cafe in Wicker Park at 2034 W. Division St.
Soria and Diaz, both originally from Venezuela, said they wanted to open a second location to expand their range of dishes.
“We want to show more Venezuelan food in Chicago, and over at [the Wicker Park location] we have some limitations because it’s just a bakery and cafe,” Soria said.
The Division Street location serves pastries that are baked in-house and has a full coffee bar that uses in-house roasted beans.
The Taylor Street location allows for a sit-down experience as well as a coffee bar for drinks to go. Pastries and coffee from the other location are also available.
The diner’s larger menu includes traditional Venezuelan arepas — a flat, round cornmeal cake that can be filled with a variety of meats, veggies or cheeses — and small hand-pies called pastelitos. There are also Venezuelan-American crossover dishes such as sweet plantain waffles or an arepa benedict.
The coffee menu is just as expansive, ranging from drip coffee made with their Division Street roastery beans to specialties like a bombón — espresso and sweetened condensed milk.
Soria said his number one priority in serving customers is making sure they enjoy the experience of sitting-down and hanging out in the diner, rather than “you buy your coffee and you get out.”
“We try to be more authentic, like, ‘Hey, I know you, you come every single day. I know your name,’” Soria said.
Part of this experience is achieved in the foam art Soria designs on every latte. Customers can enjoy the hand-made designs with their in-house beverages.
Soria said he began training as a barista when he was 15 years old in Venezuela and has since competed in world-wide latte art competitions.
“I just love coffee,” he said. “When I was young, I said, ‘Okay, I want to do something unique. Everyone takes classes to be a chef, or bartender, and I got to do something different.’”
While Soria is the coffee guru on the team, Diaz said she uses her business degree to manage the administrative side.
Soria and Diaz said it’s been hard opening not just one, but two, businesses during the pandemic, but it’s been rewarding to have gotten a great response from the community.
“It’s so nice when people that haven’t eaten an arepa in their life try it and they say it’s good,” Diaz said.
Typica Diner & Cafe is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
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