Outside a tiny hole-in-the-wall on the cobblestone streets of the San Telmo neighborhood in Buenos Aires, you’ll find happy eaters sitting on street curbs and door stoops shoveling beefy sandwiches into their faces like there’s no tomorrow. Envious line-waiters patiently endure the grill smoke pouring into their faces while salivating over hungry customers who are devouring the Argentine street food barbecue favorites: the choripan, Argentina’s national sandwich.
Nuestra Parrilla, which means ‘Our Parrilla’ in Spanish, is just blocks away from the famous San Telmo antique market and offers only about five items, handwritten in marker on a white piece of greasy and burnt paper. Strict health code abiders you may want to sit this one out – while this dingy cave of meaty love probably violates sanitation laws, all worries will sizzle away with just a few perfect bites of sausage delight.
The short list of offerings include asado (BBQ) all-stars like choripán (chorizo sausage sandwich), morcipan (morcilla, or blood sausage sandwich), vacíopan (flank steak sandwich), and bondiola (pork shoulder sandwich). I go with the choripan, because it’s the hotness.
The space consists of a humble dining area with a handful of gritty bar stools, hundreds of photos and Argentine memorabilia on the walls, letters and notes from devoted parrilla followers and fans, a tiny TV showing Argentine fútbol, and the toking group of tall, blonde Nordic-looking tourists that mistakenly stumbled upon the joint. The owner, who looks like he just came from a Van Halen concert in 1981, always seems to be just hanging out with his rat-tailed mullet-sporting crew, attempting to chat up any female who is remotely attractive as he sips on the house moon-shiny wine.
It’s hard to go wrong with the wondrous choripán - think thick chorizo sausage butterflied, crispy on the outside and bursting with juicy meat on the inside. I’ve also been known to order the vacíopan - grilled flank steak with a charred crunchy shell and served on toasted crusty bread.
It’s essential to smother the sandwich with Argentina’s number one condiments, chimichurri (a mixture of parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil and vinegar) and salsa criolla (raw dice of onion, green and red pepper and tomato in vinegar) both which sits in murky jars on the bar.
Cheap, quick, tasty — it’s the ideal afternoon pick me up that will also make you want to take a nap afterwards.
Carlos Calvo 471, San Telmo
Average price: AR$20