Chacarero beef sandwiches at El Guaton, Woodside Queens
- Eric Eto
After a late lunch at Sripraphai, I spotted a Chilean place on Roosevelt (near 68th St) that I hadn't noticed before. The place otherwise looks like a pizzeria, but they have a section of non-Italian items on the menu that seem pretty interesting. My only chilean experience is from the chilean sandwich stand in downtown crossing in boston, but at El Guaton, they have an entire list of sandwiches including the chacarero sandwiches I've become accustomed to eating. This one is made on a homemade foccacia-textured flat round bread with ample slices of grilled beef, avocado, string beans, tomatoes, and mayo. It's a real monster of a sandwich. The menu here is pretty extensive with the pizza and italian stuff and all kinds of chilean items like empanadas, tamales, soups and stews, grilled meats and chicken. They also carry a line of sodas that look like they're brought over from south america, including a version of the oh so elusive lemon soda I really enjoy. Since this was my first visit, I can't attest to the overall quality of their food, but it seems pretty promising. Anyone know more about this place? Are there other places for chilean in NYC?
El Guaton Pizzeria and Amasanderia
68-14 Roosevelt Ave
i've never had any of the sandwiches you describe, although i am mighty tempted to dash out and grab one at some point this weekend after hearing the rundown! the empanadas, however, are very good at El Guaton. they're large, chilean style, and the beef ones are copiously filled with meat that's cut roughly, not ground too fine and mixed with a healthy amount of onion and enough gravy to make handling it on the road (which i always seem to try) kind of a mess. make sure to get a container of the hot sauce on the side.
as far as other chilean, there was a place--the name of which escapes me--on broadway in woodside (near 65th street). it is/was fairly hit and miss. good grilled meats, but decidedly subpar on anything more involved than that.
re: david sprague
hmmm. I have been eyeballing a place along there that has had a new sign/awning at least, if not being a new place, for several months. Yeah, a pizza plus place.
I guess I should try it out and see if this is the place you're talking about. I don't remember anything in the signage that says Chilean. What info did you guys see to let you know that?
OK, I tried my first chacarero yesterday. Eric, I know you are a strapping young man, but after a meal at Sripraphai how could you eat a chacarero? You must have had lots of help or taken a lot home. Huge.*
Same for their standard size empanada. Only as I was leaving with my bag of left overs did I notice that they have empanaditas (little empanadas, the size I usually think of for empanadas) as well. I found my chicken empanada to be good (and still tasty when I finished it for brunch this morning) but it did not have the same impact as the sandwich.
And speaking of the chacarero. I would dispute with your description of the bread (pan amasado) as being foccacia-textured except I don't know what else to say except that it is much softer (think over-sized fresh homemade hamburger bun) than what I think of as foccacia (and I ain't no foccacia expert neither). These sandwiches are huge and juicy. Lots of grilled beef and avocado and then there are the string beans. Very interesting. The bean pods are spit in two, making them very thin and they seem to have been blanched and either marinated, lightly pickled or somehow dressed. They play a role both like a sliced cucumber based pickle and like lettuce, adding flavor and crunch.
The place has an ambience like your typical corner pizza dive with tv going and #7 train roaring overhead every few minutes. I saw at least a couple of people who probably came in looking for a quick slice to go and got confused because the display counter contains no pizza (although standard varieties are available by the slice, etc.). Instead displayed are a variety of savory baked items: sausage rolls, empanadas, hallenos (sp?), and calzones.
Like you said there are a variety of sandwiches: beef, pork, or chicken, and the chacarero is only one variation of filling. Fried egg or sauerkraut or fried onions are found in other versions. One of the next things I want to try is their cazuela, described as chef's choice of meat stewed with potato, corn, yellow squash, green beans and rice.
This is all new to me, so, I too look forward to exploring this place and to hearing suggestions and comments from others who know this cuisine.
BTW: their hours, 10:30am-10:30pm, 7 days.
* Ha! While doing a little internet research on guaton and amasanderia (a type of Chilean bakery featuring savory breads like emapanadas), some sources use guaton like gordo (fat) and some gangster types also have Guaton as a nickname. Here it must refer to the very round faced chef on their logo and the stuffed full sandwiches etc.
Wray, thanks for the detailed summary. Seems that I'll have to go and investigate further at el Guaton. The oversized empanadas seem like my next target. Even though I may be strapping, I didn't eat the chacarero sandwich there. I took it home to have later. No way I would have been able to handle that, fresh from Sripraphai. As for the pan amasado, I think it's misleading to describe it as an oversized hamburger bun since it's a bit more springy like focaccia... the texture is somewhere between the two. Regardless, I don't think you can go too wrong with homemade bread, whatever the texture.
OK, I went Friday afternoon to try the cazuela (see my message earlier on this thread) and they said it hasn't been selling very well so they are considering dropping it from the menu. Also soups are a winter thing. Bottom line, no cazuela today. So I continued pan amasado research and got another overstuffed sandwich. This time I went with churrasco completo with is about the same as what I had before but has sauerkraut instead of string beans.
With the kraut, I realize that these sandwiches are somewhat like big delicatessan sandwiches. The beef reminds me a lot like the roast beef I used to get in New Orleans (stand back, I'm gettin' nostalgic) and it is juicy, like with a bit of pan gravy. The sauerkraut was very mild and with the mayo I had to wonder if it was slaw instead of kraut. The pan amasado? Hmmm. still can't think of a better way to describe it. Will have to try again.
This week they have been featuring a chorizo on their version of a hot dog bun (fresh baked by El Guaton) and I tried it. Didn't rock my boat. The bread is good, but the chorizo seemed crumbly and not very flavorful.
ive had those sandwiches before at a place called san antonio bakery #2 on astoria blvd. I highly recommend the place, but not for the sandwiches necessarily, but for a chilean twist on an american favorit: the hotdog! they serve chilean style hot dogs, which is a hotdog on a fresh baked bun, that has guacamole, diced tomatoes and onions, and mayo...sounds nuts, but its great! enjoy.