It takes a boatload of cojones to open a restaurant dedicated to arepas just a few blocks away from the much-lauded institution that arguably made the Venezuelan corn cakes a must-have dish in NYC. But that's exactly what Arepa Factory has done with its cozy new restaurant on Avenue A, where they're offering four different types of arepas plus 20 ingredients and 11 sauces. Others have tried—and failed—to challenge the Caracas arepa dynasty; let's see how these guys fare.

One thing that sets Arepa Factory apart is the make-your-own option, from traditional fillings like sweet plantain, black beans and avocado to arugula, sundried tomatoes and goat cheese. But they're also offering Pabellon arepas, a nod to Venezuela’s national dish of shredded beef, black beans, sweet plantains and Guayanes cheese and nearly two dozen other pre-selected arepas. There's even a brunch option with bacon and eggs:

Prices are more or less in line with nearby offerings, though Arepa Factory is also doing a Langosta lobster salad arepa for $12.95—cheaper than a lobster roll!—and a few others that inch over the $9 bar. But the DIY versions start at $7 for a cheese plus 3 fillings and a sauce—and the fresh corn cakes, called cachapas, starting at $8.75—with proteins and fillings topping out at $3.

147 Avenue A, 646-490-6828; website

Arepa Factory Menu