It seems sandwiches are all the rage these days. Recent blog posts on a couple of different local sites have declared top 5s or 10s of their personal searches and favorites. Adam Richman just launched his new show Best Sandwich in America which, while interesting and mouthwatering subject material is so poorly put together as to be near unwatchable, nearly driving me to download and re-watch episodes of Man vs. Food. Nearly. But the whole idea is inspiring, and I’ve long reviewed sandwiches that I’ve come across here when worthy of a mention, positively or negatively.
And so, I’m on The Great Sandwich Hunt – seeking out the best sandwiches from any barrio and perhaps even the city surrounds. And, trying to enlist various friends in accompanying me – allowing for multiple sandwich tryouts on any given day – we can order one at each place and share, you know? Over the next couple of weeks I’ll setup a page that has the current rankings, similar to my expat snacks page. I’m thinking to organize it both by type of sandwich as well as by barrio, so there will be two ways to look for a winner – and, they may not have the same winners, if you stop to think about it.
So what constitutes a sandwich? According to Wikipedia, “A sandwich is a food item, typically consisting of two or more slices of bread with one or more fillings between them, or one slice of bread with a topping or toppings, commonly called an open sandwich.” They even note that a court in Boston ruled that a sandwich must include “at least two slices of bread”, removing such things as tacos, burritos, shawarmas, wraps, etc. from consideration. I’m inclined to agree with the general concept, though I do accept the open faced sandwich which only has one slice. I’m excluding, arbitrarily perhaps, things like burgers, meat or veggie; and probably anything simply wrapped up in a flatbread of one sort or another (shawarmas get their own listing already on my snacks page, and a falafel one is probably not far behind, just sayin’); there may be an occasional inclusion for something particularly outstanding that is, say, stuffed in a pita, but even there I’m likely to shy away.
In terms of those that will actually get any serious consideration – it’s unlikely that I’ll give any attention to something like your typical pebete or miga, simply because the chances of either type offering any sort of satisfaction worth making a trip for are beyond slim – though if anyone wants to assert they know of or offer one worthy of making a trip, I’ll check it out. Will I consider something like a local chori-, bondi-, vacio-, morci- pan? If they have something special to offer, yes – not if they’re simply a slice or two of meat or a split sausage, grilled and shoved on an oversized length of bread. They’ll have to be outstanding in terms of additions, condiments, bread, or something else of the sort.
I begin with the first round of some that were suggested to me via Twitter from local friends. And I’m taking names and suggestions for more – barrio is unimportant, the motto is, “Have Sandwich, Will Travel”.
Matt suggested Club Danés, at Av. Alem 1074, essentially the lunchroom for the Danish consulate and embassy. He had fond recollections of the open-faced pickled herring sandwich. First off, the lunchroom has a great view over the harbor which is kind of cool, especially if you can get a table at the window. The menu offers two plates of the day and/or a list of a dozen smorbrod. The latter turn out to be a single slice of brown or light rye bread with a topping, pickled vegetables of one sort or another on pretty much all of them. The herring was perfectly cured and tasty and set-off nicely by the pickled onions. 24 pesos for a single herring fillet, a lettuce leaf, some onion, and a slice of bread, regardless of how good, is really pretty pricey, and not particularly filling or satisfying. The waitress asserted that the most popular sandwich on the menu is the pork liver pate, so I had one of those brought to the table as well. Another 28 pesos – actually more interesting though, a quite good pate and a mix of pickled cucumbers and beets – the latter a fantastic accompaniment. Quite good, but I felt neither to be worth the price. I should go check out the similar offering at Club Sueco just for comparison.
Two different hot pastrami sandwich recommendations came my way. The first, also from Matt, was for Malvón, Serrano 789, Villa Crespo, which I’ve already tried, been moderately disappointed by (as pastrami, it’s a perfectly good smoked brisket sandwich), and written up. Carly suggested that I check out the version at La Crespo, Thames 612 also in Villa Crespo. Pastrami, or pastrón, as it’s called here is always so disappointing, more or less being the lunchmeat, Oscar Mayer, sort of version – minimal flavor, thin slices, boring. And entering the little hole in the wall that is La Crespo, mostly a takeout joint with a dozen bar stools scattered around at high tables, didn’t prime me for anything much better. So what a fantastic surprise to find that they offer up the real thing – smoked and braised and absolutely dead-on delicious, served on dark rye with good pickles, spicy mustard and an accompanying onion compote. It’s no Katz’s, but then, what is? The owner even, as we chatted, apologized for it being “only a little bit like New York” – not as over-stuffed because “it’s just not the custom here”. It was plenty stuffed, believe me – and my only criticisms are personal choices – this is very lean pastrami, I’d usually get the fatty type back in NYC, even if I shouldn’t, and, I prefer a “Jewish rye”, i.e., a lighter “corn rye” – and on a return visit I may ask if they have that, since they seem to have a variety of breads. Top contender, no doubt, and well worth the high 30s peso price and the trip across town. They also offer other deli stuff – a really good potato knish, chopped liver, and more.
More to come and I’m taking suggestions! Send ’em in.