Whenever I’m in Chile one of the first things I do, considering I’m usually tired after a long flight is to go to a diner or café and order a sandwich and a beer. As I described in this earlier post, Chile does sandwiches right. There are dozens of them and most involve grilled steak and avocado. Apart from some of the sandwiches show up on restaurant menus near the Chilean border in Peru or Argentina, I’ve never encountered a Chilean sandwich shop. Anywhere.
Until now. In Manhattan’s Midtown East, Barros Luco, opened a few months ago and I finally made it there on a rainy Saturday for a visit. There are two levels; the first floor is just the counter where you order while there’s a spacious upstairs with cozy seating. It definitely has a fast food feel to it and the menu just has a handful of sandwiches and empanadas.
The Barros Luco is the favorite sandwich at the restaurant. It’s thinly sliced steak/or chicken breast covered in melted cheese. Order it Italiano and they’ll add tomato, mayo, and avocado. The Chacacero, one of my favorites when I’m in Chile, is a Barros Luco that adds string beans, tomato, mayo, banana peppers, and Aji verde. The Barros Jarpa combines ham and melted cheese, while the Ave Palta is chicken salad and avocado. There are eight empanadas range from the standard Chilean Empanada de Pino (beef, egg, black olive, and golden raisins) to Shrimp and Cheese. Their Vienesas, hot dogs, are true to form and come slathered in avocado, mayo, and tomato. There are three sauces that can be ordered on the side, Aji Verde (banana pepper & cilantro), Aji Rojo (Red Pepper & tomato), and Pebre (tomatoes, onions, cilantro, red peppert, & garlic). Sweet potato fries can be ordered on the side as well and come with homemade ranch dressing.
According to their website, this is how the sandwich that the restaurant is named after was named:“ Ramón Barros Luco was born in 1835 and was President of Chile between 1910 and 1915. His name became famous not for his time as president, but from a popular sandwich named after him. While in office, he would often eat a particular sandwich at Confitería Torres (pictured below). At el Torres, he would order “carne con queso caliente en pan amasado” which is “steak with melted cheese on homemade bread”.”
300 1/2 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.