Openings and Closings

Avanti Close-up: Quiero Arepas From Igor and Beckie Panasewicz

If you haven't stood in line for one of the Venezuelan street-food sandwiches known as arepas at the Quiero Arepas food truck, you haven't experienced the anticipation of sinking your teeth into one of the best bites in town — mobile or not. Now that owners Igor and Beckie Panasewicz have parked a second incarnation of Quiero permanently inside Avanti Food & Beverage, you won't have to chase the truck down to satisfy your Venezuelan craving.

Igor Panasewicz was born in Maracaibo, Venezuela and grew up in Caracas. After coming to Colorado and meeting Beckie, he used to make arepas and bring them to her at work — and it wasn't long before her co-workers began clamoring for their own. The couple realized they were onto something and so launched the food truck to bring the overstuffed corn-flour pockets to the people of Denver. 

At Avanti, you'll find the same street-tested combos as on the truck's menu, with succulent slow-cooked meats, flavorful black beans, sweet fried plantain and a secret guasacaca sauce made with cilantro, parsley, avocado and seven other ingregients that Beckie keeps under wraps. The arepas themselves are made with imported P.A.N. brand white corn-flour dough which is formed into disks and griddled before a quick finish in the oven to puff them up.

Beckie recalls the early days of Denver's food-truck movement: "Avanti kind of feels the same, with Kevin [Morrison — who founded Pinche Tacos and now has Poco Torteria] and Tommy [Garnick] at Brava — we were all part of the Justice League," she says, referring to the Justice League of Street Food truck rallies that ran from 2010 to 2013.

"In 2010, I didn't think I could make another arepa," Beckie adds. "But we've tripled sales since then." The Quiero truck is taking a break this week as the Panasewiczes turn their full attention to Avanti, but Beckie expects to be back on the streets four days a week starting next week.

This week we're spotlighting the seven fast-casual food counters inside the brand-new Avanti Food & Beverage building, which just opened on Monday. Here are our other Avanti close-ups:
Poco Torteria from Pinche's Kevin Morrison
Farmer Girl from Chef Tim Payne
Brava Pizzeria from Dave Bravdica
Souk Shawarma from Jon Robbins of Bistro Barbes
Bixo Mexiterranean BItes from Marco Gonzales

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation