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 Wings-Burgers-Tacos 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 (which have their own page) 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. The amazing prawn sandwich at Bra? in Palermo is also the only nod to a shrimp salad (or any seafood salad) sandwich I’ve found in town.
Chicken – Every time I find a really good chicken sandwich, it seems the place goes out of business shortly thereafter. I keep searching! 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. On the barbecue front, there’s 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? Although still an amazing sandwich, 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, which held the crown for many years, has been supplanted by the spate of new sandwich places. Tiny hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop El Refuerzo offers up an amazing rendition of the same Peceto Completo with tangy pickled peppers. And, new to Recoleta, Abocado Cantina is serving up a stunning, spicy monster sandwich of beef with house-made condiments – ginger pickle, hot sauce, and mustard, the Sr. Beef! The classic Argentine lomo sandwich, a generally simple steak sandwich, has to at least make an appearance to be politic about it all, and both as classic as it gets, and pretty darned good, is the Lomo Completo from Rodi Bar in Recoleta. A nod has to go out, as well, to the smoky, tangy, barbecued Brisket sandwich at El Tejano, in Palermo.
Pastrami – One can’t ignore smoked, 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, the first decent pastrami sandwich to hit the streets of BA. But it was quickly followed up by an equally good Hot Pastrami at Schwartz & Berg in Palermo. Still, the king of the pack is the sous vide Pastrami (something like 36 hours, it’s so tender it’s like butter), at Mishiguene in Palermo, though that one comes at a hefty price-tag, and is only available at certain times on certain days.
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 original series of posts (more have crept in, mixed into my various Bite Marks posts). Adam Richman, eat your heart out – can I still say that now that we’ve met and are at least “friended” online?