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Finally tried Chacarero (OK) and Beard Papa (WOW!) downtown...

I am finally checking out the high points recommended downtown now that it's my workplace (it used to be in the very unchowish Seaport/South Boston area).

Chacarero was chaotic with a long line at 12:40 and it was really unclear about how you pay, get a receipt, and THEN order the sandwich (why don't they have a simple sign that says "Stand here in the cashier line first and then get in the other line to order your food" -- though they were quite friendly at the window -- it was the one on the side of Filene's, by the way) --

The very big "small" BBQ chicken sandwich with extra hot sauce and guac was a LOT of food for $6 (enough for two to split easily, in fact), but aside from that, I didn't get why it's highly-touted -- it's a decent chicken breast sandwich with some decent vegetables (green beans, roasted peppers, and tomatoes) on fresh but bland round bread -- seems that's it to me -- no really unique spice or flavor in mine today, though the heat in the sauce was OK.

I'm not sure what I'm missing about it. What is it that others love there? - should I order differently next time?

Beard Papa in Quincy Market, on the other hand, was definitely the most expensive ($2)and BEST cream puff I've ever had -- pristinely fresh vanilla custard in a perfect puff pastry shell sprinkled with just enough powdered sugar.

There was no line at 3:30p on this Tuesday and the server was very smiley and friendly. I am NOT a cream puff fanatic, but I'd go out of my way once in while for another one of these!

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  1. I agree with you on Chacarero. Didn't seem to wow me either.

    1. I'm so excited that there's a Beard Papa in Boston! Their cream puffs are definitely the best out there - the shells are baked and are always super fresh and crispy, and doesn't get soggy because they fill it for you right there.

      Their special flavors - chocolate, strawberry, green tea, mango are also good - but I think that vanilla (with little flecks of real vanilla bean) is by far the best.

      I fell in love with them when I worked next door to a Beard Papa's in NY.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Christie

        Inspired by this thread, I grabbed a Beard Papa cream puff during lunch. Cream puff aside (tasty chocolate cream with a fairly crispy shell), I noticed that the Quincy Market location only does chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. Here's hoping they add mango, et al, soon.

      2. I think if you are a cream puff fanatic, you might not like Beard Papa as much -- I've heard complaints that their puffs are filled with custard instead of cream. But I love it, especially the eclair (what you had, except with a dark chocolate topping instead of powdered sugar). Mmmm.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Pia

          I find that Beard Papa's cream puffs have an odd, kind of metallic aftertaste.


        2. Another underwhelmed Chacarero eater. Probably too much hyper for its own good. I will try it again soon with less unrealistic expectations.

          Beard Papa absolutely rocks, though.

          1. I'm a fan of Chacarero. I like the mix of marinated beef, cheese, avocado, hot sauce, etc..Bun is ok. They certainly could make it "clearer" as to how to order, pay, pick up.

            If you want to try them again, there's also a store on Province St..rarely a line. I'm told they also have empanadas; but I haven't tried them yet.

            Different hounds..different tastes.

            3 Replies
            1. re: 9lives

              Former Chacarero junkie here.

              Having worked downtown for almost a decade I think one of the main attractions to this place has been that it's just a little bit different from the rest. Just about every corner you turn around here there is a deli/sub/bagel/salad/Italian shop with little variation to what they offer on the menu. I agree that the ingredients are simple, but I think it's the combination (plus being in close proximity to most offices) that makes it a hit. And I admit when I first discovered it I spent a whole summer overdosing on the large combo with extra beans, cheese, and sauce. Now I just occasionally go there (before 11:30am to avoid the line) when I need a meat and heat fix.

            2. Totally agree about first experience at Chacareros - my bf was raving about this place saying it was the best thing ever. I had one and was like, eh, that's pretty cool but is this it? THEN, I went back again and it was better.....so try one more time since they maybe had an off day (not cool, but can be excused once, right?). I am now a 'regular' and tend to go early or late to avoid the rush and I get the chicken - not the bbq chicken.

              1. I think urban_myth hit the nail on the head, it's about the sandwich being something "different", "unique", just a great combination of ingredients that all come together to create a delicious sandwich. No it's not earthshattering, no it's not rocket science, it's just really really GOOD.

                6 Replies
                1. re: twentyoystahs

                  As twentyoystahs said, green beans. They come on the Chacarero original, along with cheese, avacado paste, some sort of hot sauce, and salt and pepper. The also offer a bbq sandwich, but I've never had one and the differences between the two aren't spelled out on the menu.

                  1. re: urban_myth

                    You are right, they aren't spelled out, so the other day I decided to have one. Apparently the bbq is marinated in garlic, lime or lemon? and some spices. So the marinated chicken is used and then the sandwich is made the exact same way ---except at the very end they put a pile of roasted red peppers on top. Mmmm. It's only something like .50 or .75 more and I think it's worth it for the peppers alone. Honestly I don't taste all that much difference btwn the marinated vs regular chicken, they're both good. But the peppers give the bbq chicken the slight edge for me.

                    1. re: twentyoystahs

                      Damn, red peppers....just when I thought I had kicked the habit.

                  2. re: twentyoystahs

                    my biggest complaint about chacareros is that the meat is not really seasoned or flavored whatsoever. sure theres other things going on in the sandwich, but you'd think they could marinate the chicken or season the meat a little before slapping it on the grill.

                    sure its unique, but that hardly makes it good and definitely not really really GOOD. as a matter of fact, i would call it really really underwhelming.

                    1. re: corduroy79

                      i just finished my leftover half from yesterday's chacerero's chicken sandwich and it was great. i don't think the sandwich is bland at all --and i do think the chicken is seasoned a bit. i think the key with this sandwich is the combination of all these different ingredients that result in the flavor --chicken, avocado spread, hot sauce, muenster cheese, tomatoes, green beans, salt and pepper --and that delicious bread. you can't leave anything off --they all complement each other, and combine together to just create the most amazing taste. at least i think so. mmmm.

                      1. re: twentyoystahs

                        alls i'm saying is i would take a standard old BLTA over a chacarero any day of the week. but to each his own right...

                  3. The chacarero chicken sandwich can be hit or miss, I've found -mostly good, but sometimes inexplicably, incredibly bland (I don't know what the reason is). The beef version is more consistent flavor-wise, but the meat can be chewy. Does anyone care to guess what to call the cut of beef they use, and what it's fat content might be?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: wontonton

                      Agreed about the beef having more flavor. I had the chicken once and don't need to have that again.

                      1. re: wontonton

                        Seems like skirt steak to me.


                      2. Guilty pleasure: Beard Papa eclair/cream puff if one is forced to trudge around downtown with a hangover.

                        It's so *not* my thing, but it's sooooo cool and creamy and good.

                        1. I think the spicy sauce makes or breaks Chacarero. It is THE flavor I go back for (but it is also very spicy). I ask for extra. Agreed, otherwise the sandwich is bland.

                          1. I had a strawberry cream puff from Beard Papa's yesterday and enjoyed it. I like how it's prepared with care and pride.