Living in New York City means accepting that all of your favorite places will eventually close up and be replaced by a combination Duane Reade/Citibank, but the news that Queens's legendary Arepa Lady would soon be retiring still struck a heavy blow. If you've been lucky enough to experience the Lady (real name: Maria Piedad Cano) yourself, you'll know why. Maria's arepas are maybe the highest possible calling for the humble cornmeal cake: fluffy as clouds, exceptionally crispy from the griddle, and the ideal landing pad for her perfected roast corn and queso fillings.
As awful as it might be to consider the possibility of an arepa-free future in NYC, there's going to be at least one more chance to share in the Arepa Lady joy, thanks to the hungry hearts behind The Meadows Music & Arts Festival. They're bringing out Arepa Lady as part of their "Feastival of Queens" experience, a special festival food lineup devoted to the local community's cooks and merchants. The magic arepas can be yours again, and this time you can experience their glory while simultaneously watching Erykah Badu tear it up onstage.
It's not unusual for music festivals to have a strong food program these days, but The Meadows is one of the few remaining big festivals that can still call itself truly independent, so it's not surprising that their commitment to bringing out local community vendors is extra on-point. To make sure they got it right, the fest teamed up with Queens cuisine expert Joe DiStefano to select a diverse lineup of local favorites. Which means if you still have room after the arepas, you can feast on Dumpling Galaxy's crab & scallop dumplings, Sugar Club's banana roti, and plenty of other Queens hits.
And because The Meadows is one of the best new fests to come to NYC in a while, the most exciting news might be getting the chance to learn if arepas taste even better if you pair them with a killer JAY-Z set. The festival's heavily-stacked bill features headlining performances from Jay, Gorillaz, Nas, Weezer, Migos, Future, Run the Jewels and way more.
The Meadows Music & Arts Festival goes down this weekend, September 15 - 17, at Citi Field in Queens. One and three-day passes are still available - get tickets here, and check the full music and food lineups on the posters below.