At least two threads last week discussing Chacarero had me craving one last Friday. I was flying into Logan at 3:00, and had to be in Brookline Village at 4:45, so during the flight I was plotting how to get from Logan (where I had my car) to Chacarero (where I have always had good luck parking illegally nearby, getting my Chacarero, and getting back to my car before being ticketed) and then enjoying my chacarero in the car while I drove to Brookline Village. But then I remembered that at least one hound, in the thread linked below, expressed a strong preference for chacareros at La Mamma, in Allston, over the eponymous Downtown standard beared (how's that for a pretentious clause?).
So as soon as we landed, I googled the address of La Mamma on my blackberry while taxiing to the gate, and then made the easy and quick drive to La Mamma for my first ever non-Chacarero chacarero. And although I liked it, I have to say that I found it to be no substitute for the original.
La Mamma's chacarero is served on homemade bread, warmed in a pizza oven, topped with beans, tomatoes, onions (I think), and, I believe, mayonaise. It is larger than the large sandwich at Chacarero, and served quartered, which makes it easier to eat. I asked for mine with extra hot sauce, as I would at Chacarero, and it was topped with a tomato based hot sauce (I swear, it could have been buffalo wing sauce!)
Not knowing what constitutes the "right" way to make a chacarero, I tried hard not to judge La Mamma's chacarero just because it was different than what I was used to. But although I enjoyed the sandwich very much, it just didn't have the same wonderful balance of flavors that Chacarero's chacareros have. I missed the muenster cheese, I missed Chacarero's hot sauces (you get two different ones at Chacarero if you ask for "extra hot sauce"), and I found that the ingrediants at La Mamma were not as flavorful: the bread, although good, was not as good as Chacarero's, and the tomatoes and beans were not as good. Also, the mayonaise and hot sauce La Mamma used made for a much heavier sandwich.
La Mamma is a great find. At first blush, it looks like any other neighborhood pizza and sub shop. But is has supplemented its menu with two blackboards full of South American specialties. I absolutely will go back. The chacarero was good; just not as good as Chacarero's. And I very much want to sample its empanadas and some of its South American specialties. But Chacarero is safe for now.
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