Arepas Café

On Saturday 30th, 2008, a little bit after 1:30 AM, I went out on a date with my husband to see the group La Excelencia played at Matrix Cafe in Astoria, NY.  When we arrived, we only heard them perform 1 1/2 song of the first set.  We found out the second set would start around 2:40 AM. Although, it meant we could not get home early, we made the sacrifice. We had to go across the street from Matrix Cafe to eat (my husband was starving!) at Arepas Café.  We had to wait a long time for the order.  There were a lot of people ordering during the brake.  We could not eat during the brake; we had to tell the waitress to pack things to go.  By the time, the food was ready, it was time for us to go back inside the Matrix Cafe to listen and dance to the energetic rhythm of La Excelencia’s 2nd set.  It was another issue to bring the food inside the restaurant.  We thought, it would be a good idea that the Matrix Cafe arranged for people to order from the Arepas Café and have the food delivered to be consumed inside while listening to the Salsa played by the band.  But I guess, some places have their own restrictions and cannot allow food inside their venues.  

My husband was finally able to eat the arepa inside the car on our way home, the ‘Reina’ arepa, he ordered was SO DELICIOUS!!! that we had to go back yesterday for lunch time.  The chicken and creamy sauce was melting on his palate, well I had to try it so that’s how I know.

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2 Responses to Arepas Café

  1. Franz says:

    I too saw La Excelencia!

    “La Excelencia hailed Champions of Salsa Battle 2008”

    It ‘s Friday night August 29th, 2008 at the New York Salsa Congress in New York City. Dancers and music fans have all gathered under one roof at the Hilton on 6th Avenue near Times Square to witness a Battle of the Bands by two salsa bands, La Excelencia & Ocho y Mas. The main ball room on the 2nd floor is packed with over 8000 salsa music fans and the ticket is 30 dollars. As all of the attendees wait outside the bands are setting up inside the ballroom, it gave time for us to hear the gossip of who they felt was the best and why. People that claimed Ocho y Mas was the best did not notice that Ray Bayona was selling shoes with his girlfriend near by. I asked Mr. Bayona if he was going to perform and he said no that he was no longer a member of Ocho y Mas. This began to worry the Ocho y Mas fans amongst us in the mob of people awaiting the reentrance to the Salsa Congress. One man near me spoke of a trombone player named Willy Alavarez, another of the timbalero Marc Quinones, it was like awaiting the gladiators before battle.

    La Excelencia also was being mentioned amongst a group of dancers who had recently seen them in Belgium and were anxiously awaiting a second glimpse. In Europe I had to been hearing of this young salsa Orchestra that was making a name for themselves all over the world. This was the reason I had crossed the Atlantic from Austria just to see this up and coming band take on the giants that backed up so many salsa bands of the 90’s. La Excelencia was definitely the underdog, they did produce though an original music CD “Salsa con Conciencia” which was highly recommended by all the top DJ’s and dance instructors in Europe. Ocho y Mas too had a good CD called “Juega Billar” although the tunes were not original they did cover tunes by the 70’s greats.

    The doors finally opened and on the program it said La Excelencia would take the stage, but the gentlemen on the stage seemed much older then the pictured La Excelencia. I asked a photographer in the crowd who is this band, he replied Ocho y Mas. So far the schedule had changed no one understood why, on the stage was Spanish Harlem’s vocalist Wily Torres, and no Marc Quinones. The band did not look like the same guys I had watched on so many youtube videos this was a mixed band I was told of Willy Salsa Band and Ocho y Mas. Bobby Allende came to the front and spoke on the microphone giving an announcement that they did not come to battle they had nothing to prove they came to play music. What I gathered from Mr. Allende speech was that they felt La Excelencia was no competition. Ocho y Mas began to perform with new vocalist Willy Torres and the other new faces in the band it it was very on point! Hearing all the old school music of the salsa greats made me feel like I was in the 70’s during New York’s salsa era. Ocho y Mas was to play two sets but only gave their fans one short set.

    Soon after La Excelencia began to take the stage, they seemed like youngsters but I knew better since I heard their CD and too watched them on youtube many time before. The first tune they played was explosive people were yelling next to me La Excelencia had the crowd! The performance was a mix of Afro-Cuban and New York Salsa it was truly a treat to hear these original tunes live and well performed. The vocalist Edwin Perez is a great young sonero and whoa the crowd as did his counter part Gilberto Velazquez. The horns were sensational these guys gave all they had and the crowd was feeding off of it. The rhythm and percussion section was strong they sounded like a well oiled engine ready for take off. They gave the fans about an hour and a half of pure original music and a journey through rhythms that captivated everyone.

    We also were treated to two new songs that will be featured on La Excelencia’s new CD “American Sueño” and “Aña Pa’ mi Tambor”. This was such a treat La Excelencia’s new material was amazing they did a cha cha-cha and a descarga truly amazing talent these youngsters have. And the new songs are still original written and performed by La Excelencia. As they ended the night they introduced the band and the leaders are Julian Silva on timbales and Jose Vazquez-Cofresi on congas. Not only does Mr. Silva play timbales he is also the arranger and writer of several songs on “Salsa con Conciencia” and the new album to come. Mr. Vazquez-Cofresi also wrote many songs on the first CD and it was mentioned that he wrote Aña Pa’ mi Tambor”.

    After the performance people cheered for La Excelencia who amongst the spectators were seen as champions. Days after the performance everyone kept speaking about how La Exclencia destroyed Ocho y Mas on stage. La Excelencia are true champions and deserve all that that will come to them, I’m awaiting the new CD by La Excelencia more now then ever! I was able to find clips of the bands performance that night click on the links to view this historic performance by La Excelencia Champions of the Battle of the Bands at the New York Salsa Congress 2008. – “El Salsero Europeo”

    American Sueño:

    Aña pa’ mi Tambor:

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