When Chileans say ‘sandwich’, they aren’t talking about the small flimsy affairs that we are used to in the UK. In Chile they’re usually huge, overflowing belly busters that constitute a whole meal in themselves. Their popularity is on a par with burgers in the US so there are heaps of sandwich shops all over the country. Below are reviews of three I’ve been to in Santiago. You’ll find them all on my map).
There are many kinds of sandwiches in Chile but I was eager to try two of the most famous; the pork Lomito and the steak Churrasco. Sandwiches are often ordered ‘Italiano’, that is with avocado (palta), fresh tomato and mayonnaise (the green, red and white of the Italian flag). They are also good with a smattering of Aji Chileno (Chilean hot sauce) which is a mixture of tomatoes, coriander, ají pepper, onions, lemon juice and water.
This first place is a short walk from Cerro Santa Lucia, the second hill in my last post…
Fuente Alemana falemana.cl, at 58 Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins, next to Baquedano metro station, is the most famous sandwich bar in Chile. The reknown ‘German Fountain’comes from the fact that this is where El Lomito, the unofficial national dish of Chile, was invented.
Basically El Lomito involves shavings of marinated, slow-roasted pork that are kept warm in a flavoured broth (secret recipe) and served piled high in a toasted Frica bun. I had it Italiano, but was unprepared for the sheer amount of mayo that came with it and I had to scrape most of it off. To be honest I felt a bit queasy about halfway through and didn’t finish it! It’s definitely an experience worth having though (B+). Anthony Bourdain is also a fan.
El Lomito is so famous that it has even spawned a chain of restaurants named after it. Branches of Lomit’s have a diner feel similar to Denny’s in the States. It’s a place for the average guy who likes to watch football while he eats (as I do).
Back in 2011 I went to the Providencia branch at 1890 Avenida de Providencia where I had their Lomito Italiano (B) with a round of chips (C+) and a couple of schops; draught beers (B). The portions were huge and I only made it halfway before admitting defeat!
Again, haute cuisine it ain’t (B), but it can be very satisfying if you’re in the right mood. There are lots of other things on the menu obviously, all reasonably priced.
In 2011 I also went to The Clinic at Monjitas 578 (now closed, the new location is 258 Avenida Brasil in Barrio Brasil), a bar opened by and named after a satirical magazine, the Chilean equivalent of Private Eye. It’s a reference to the hospital Pinochet stayed in while he had medical treatment in the UK.
Although the food is no great shakes (B), it has a nice courtyard and a fun atmosphere. I had a ‘Churrasco Italiano’ in a toasted bun. It was perfectly edible but the quality of the thinly cut beef was uninspiring (C). I will give it another go elsewhere though.
The best thing was the Bolivian Pacena beer (A).
Befittingly for a stand up comedy venue, the menu displays a quirky sense of humour, with such items as the ‘Earthquake 8.8’ cocktail or the ‘Longueira’, a long sausage (Longaniza) suggestively arranged with two potatoes garnished with fried onions.
An honorary member of the sandwich family is the Completo; a hot dog served with avocado and mayo, but also maybe with fresh tomato to make it ‘complete’. As it was on my Chilean friend Maria’s list of must-tries, I was pleased to cross it off the list as my last meal in 2011, when I was at the airport on my way home. I had it ‘Italiano’ and it was pretty good (B), thanks Maria!
Next, another Chilean classic, Pisco!…