Plantain Patty Sandwiches

Flatten and fry two slices of green plantain, put some meat and cheese between them, and you've got the Venezuelan patacón. Patacon Pisao in Queens makes a fine one, says Miss Needle. She recommends the "full" option (beef, pork, and chicken), with a meat-to-plantain ratio she finds superior to that of the straight pernil (roast pork) sandwich. Besides patacónes, Miss Needle likes the big, flaky, meat-filled pastelitos.

Manhattan night crawlers may recognize the menu from the owners' original venture, El Dugout Patacon Pisao, a truck that parks up in Inwood and feeds hungry club-goers till dawn. Longtime fan foodyum2008 goes for its cachapas, sweet corn cakes served with meat, cheese, or both. "Other places put a lot of flour in their cachapas," foodyum observes, "but at Patacón Pisao they are perfect, more corn than flour!"

Just a couple blocks from the truck is the brick-and-mortar rival Cachapas y Mas, whose version of its namesake specialty is big, heavy, and "absolutely delicious," bottomlespit reports. The one with chicken, cheese, and salad delivers "the perfect combination of sweet and salty." (The "Mas" in Cachapas y Mas includes patacónes, empanadas, burgers, and the burritolike tacuchos.)

DaveCook notes that the cachapa is a not-so-distant cousin of the Colombian-style arepa de choclo, little cornmeal cakes griddled up by the beloved Queens street vendor known as The Arepa Lady. When this snowbird returns from her annual winter trip home, Dave suggests, a taste-off might be in order.

Patacon Pisao [Elmhurst]
85-22 Grand Avenue (between Haspel and Vanhorn streets), Elmhurst, Queens
718-899-8922

El Dugout Patacon Pisao [Inwood]
431 W. 202nd Street (between 9th and 10th avenues), Manhattan
917-379-5288

Cachapas y Mas [Inwood]
107 Dyckman Street (between 9th and 10th avenues), Manhattan
212-304-2224

The Arepa Lady [Jackson Heights]
Roosevelt Avenue and 79th Street, Jackson Heights, Queens
No phone available

Discuss: Comida Venezolana found in Elmhurst
Venezuelan Food (Cachapas -- Where Have You Been All My Life?)

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