Man Food: Devouring the Namesake Sandwich at Chacarero
In the case of the chacareros here, the whole is much greater then the individual components.
At Chacarero, pretty much everybody is after the namesake sandwich, a traditional Chilean item that consists of a bread-roll hybrid flatbread piled high with grilled meat, tomato, muenster cheese, avocado spread, hot sauce, and steamed green beans. It feels exotic yet not intensely so, and it has all of the elements to make it something special.
But the version from this local favorite—which can be found at its downtown outpost on Arch Street as well as at a shiny new Prudential Center food court location—is a classic case of the sum of the parts being far stronger than the individual components themselves. Both the chicken and steak fillings (a combo sandwich with both is $9.35), while tender, are woefully bland and watery, and an under-ripe tomato offers little to no benefit. The creamy avocado puree, however, is noticeably tangy, providing a great cooling match for the very pungent hot sauce.
Un-melted muenster cheese feels irrelevant to the sandwich, and the green beans, which are supposed to give the sandwich its unique slant, are steamed to the point of no return, lacking the crispness that the sandwich sorely needs. Still, add everything up and it suits just fine, although I can’t help but wonder how it would fare without the hot sauce. The spicy green sauce is scarcely applied, yet it really has a way of pulling everything together and knocking this sandwich back into the win column—it’s a secret weapon in every sense of the word. The bread, sort of soft and dense, is probably too dry for its own good, but it has a sweetness to it that manages to enhance and not distract from the abundance of fillings.
While individually the elements that make up the Chacarero sandwich may not be thrilling and are mostly devoid of any substantial flavor, somehow together everything just makes sense. I wish each piece would sing individually, but after polishing off a very substantial meal highlighted by a vinegary hot sauce and smooth avocado spread, it’s hard to complain about the end result.
Chacarero, 101 Arch St., Boston, 617-542-0392; 800 Boylston St., Boston, chacarero.com