The Great Sandwich Hunt
I’m on The Great Sandwich Hunt – seeking out the best sandwiches from any barrio and perhaps even the city surrounds – so this list will change as time goes on – presumably.
This is a hard category to organize, particularly when it comes to type of sandwich. Can I simply say “the best pork sandwich”? But what of the differences between, say, roast pork sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, ham sandwiches, bacon sandwiches? And the same will hold true in the various other fillings and styles. So, it’s going to be a bit less definitive that I might have at first envisioned.
Not included on this page are things like burgers – you can find my thoughts on hamburgers on my Expat Snacks page, nor on veggie burgers, for which I’ve written several posts (search on “V-burg” and you’ll find them). And, I’m going to echo the Superior Court of Boston in leaving out things like wraps and burritos and tacos and shawarmas (the last two of which also make an appearance on the Expat Snacks page anyway) and stick with a more “American” ideal of what constitutes a sandwich. At least for now. Away we go….
Vegetable – top of the non-meat heap easily goes to the grilled vegetable sandwich on focaccia at the Museo Evita Restaurant and Bar with a very close second to the Popeye from Arévalito in Palermo with its gooey melted mozzarella over spinach, tomatoes and caramelized onions, all served up on thick cut house-made olive bread. A knockout roasted eggplant sandwich at Pain et Vin in Palermo finds its way into third place.
Fish – There aren’t many fish sandwiches out there in BA, unless you count the occasional tuna salad (usually not a pretty thing here), or the myriad mediocre excuses for smoked salmon on a bagel. However, the San Pablo from Strobel’s right near the Obelisco is still one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in the city with its grilled pacú (an insectivore piranha from the local rivers) and black olive tapenade on a ciabatta roll. The other winner in this category is the Smoked Salmon sandwich from Food Factory with its numerous layers of smoked salmon, guacamole, dill cream cheese and confited tomatoes on black olive bread, all accompanied by great crushed potatoes. Amazing prawn sandwich at Brač in Palermo.
Chicken – The current reigning champion, the touted “best chicken sandwich in BA“, and by others, “the best chicken sandwich in the world”, is certainly a fantastic chicken sandwich, and one that I’d happily eat again, anytime, at Mama Racha on Plaza Costa Rica in Palermo. While not a wow sandwich, an excellent choice is the Curry Chicken Baguette at the small take-away spot, Hendrick’s, in Centro with a mildly spiced chicken curry, sun-dried tomatoes and melted cheddar – an odd sounding combo that suprisingly works quite well.
Turkey – It’s a tough call between two neighboring and competing restaurants, but in the end, I give the nod to the Pavito Clásico from Trianón in Boedo with its tangy dark meat turkey escabeche, lettuce, tomato and mayo on really good rye bread. The all white meat turkey, lettuce and tomato, with mushrooms and hearts of palm, at Café Margot, just down the block, comes in a reasonably close second.
Club Sandwich – These sandwiches can be so different in their interpretations that it can be hard to compare, but for me, nobody beats the Smoked Chicken Club at Malvón in Villa Crespo (and, I’m assuming, at the Palermo Chico location too) with its smoked trio of chicken, bacon and mayo, plus lettuce, tomato, egg, and really good toasted housemade bread.
Here’s where things get hard… the red meats…
Pork – More than one winning sandwich here. First, the Chicharrón from little Perú Express downtown is a clear winner so far in the roasted pork category – thick, juicy slices of roast pork dripping in juices and topped with pickled red onions. Second, on the barbecue front, the slightly smoky Pulled Pork from Bar BQ in Palermo – with its tender pork shoulder and fantastic tangy bbq sauce. A bacon, fried egg and cheddar sandwich is not something to be dismissed lightly, and the version from Brie is pretty damned good and worthy of being included in my top trio of pork goodness (this sandwich is unfortunately not always available).
Beef – is it any surprise that in this beef-centric culture, beef will come in many guises and have several contenders to the throne? I think if I were forced into a corner and had to pick one absolute winner it would be the Peceto Completo from Café Paulin, downtown – a foot-long hero layered with juicy slices of top round, lettuce, tomato, onions, roasted mild green chilies and cheese. In BA one has to consider a lomito, the classic steak sandwich that is an icon of the local culture – though there are many good ones out there, my favorite has to be the tender, juicy thin-sliced Lomo at Sirop in Recoleta, with fresh tomatoes and gooey melted brie on a ciabatta – it’s not classic, but it’s delcious. And third, one can’t ignore cured beef in the form of the outstanding Hot Pastrami from La Crespo, in Villa Crespo – heaped with slices of delicious, tender, house-made pastrami, juicy pickles and spicy mustard, all on a dark rye bread.
Mixed – Is it beef or is it pork? Although the classic chivito of Uruguay is considered a steak sandwich, in some places, there are roughly equal amounts of each. For example, the Chivito Canadiense from La Perlita right off of Plaza Misere in Once is a whopping “Dagwood” of a sandwich with juicy steak, sliced ham, crispy Canadian bacon, fried egg, gooey melted cheese, caramelized onions, fresh tomato and lettuce, mayo and probably half a dozen things I’m forgetting, all stacked up on a loose interpretation of a kaiser roll and accompanied by another mound of french fries.
Lamb – I’ve found few sandwiches made from lamb other than burgers, but the standout has to be the Sloppy Joe styled filling of the Sureño at Marruca Coffee in Villa Crespo – I could eat two of those at a sitting they’re so good.
If you want to see all the various contenders, here are links to the entire series of posts. Adam Richman, eat your heart out.