Aussies call it a steak sambo. Uruguayans call it a chivito. Except we’re not just talking about a minute steak between two bits of white bread. The chivito ($12) is more like a skyscraper. Scotch fillet, bacon, ham, grilled onions, grilled red capsicum, fried egg, tomato, lettuce and mayo are all jammed into a glazed, soft bread roll. Try and get all that into your gob without making a mess.
Homesick Uruguayans flock to Lion D’Or in Carramar for a taste of home. It’s a simple eat-in bakery café stocked with breads and sweets out the front. A small kitchen in the back sends out hot meals for cheap.
The Milanesa ($11) is another Uruguayan classic, a veal schnitzel in a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo. Order the plate version ($18) of either to swap out the bun for a pile of chips and a set of cutlery.
And the chacarero ($11) is worth a look-in too – a steak sandwich variation that adds green beans to the standard lettuce, tomato and mayo combo. Eating your greens never felt so good. Empanadas come in both Chilean and Uruguayan versions. The latter has a softer pastry and omits the cumin found in the Chilean recipe.
Make sure you save room for dessert. Bizcochos are a national pastime, little pastries eaten for breakfast, afternoon tea and snacks in-between. They range from savoury – like the cruasán which looks and tastes like a distant cousin of the French croissant – to sweet, filled or covered in dulce de leche caramel, quince paste, custard cream or crystallised sugar. Bizcochos are what you bring when you meet up with friends and family. At $1.20 each, there’s no excuse not to bring a whole bagful.
Ask about the churros, piped donuts smothered in cinnamon and sugar usually kept on a tray behind the counter. And don’t forget their alfajores, two soft shortbread rounds sandwiched with dulce de leche and encrusted around the edges with dessicated coconut.
There’s one last thing you’ll want to take home. The rosca de chicharrones is a bread loaf studded with pork crackling. Seriously. Take. My. Money.