I've been to El Guaton, the chilean pizzeria/restaurant on Roosevelt/69th St, Woodside, a few times in the last couple weeks, and I've made a few interesting discoveries. First the food. I finally deviated from my usual ordering strategy of just getting the chacarero sandwich (beef, string beans, avocado, on homemade pan amasado bread) and opted for some of their other sandwich offerings. I tried the lomito completo sandwich, which contains pork, saukraut, avocado, mayo on homemade pan amasado bread. While I was expecting a chacarero-style grilled pork loin sandwich, it was a pleasant surprise to find that the lomito sandwich is filled with slices of roast pork kind of like pernil -- nice moist pieces of it. The saukraut and the avocado were more complementary than I had expected. It was almost the perfect combination between a cuban sandwich and a mexican torta de carnitas. I also tried the arrollado sandwich, which contains slices of their homemade spiced rolled pork that you'll find in the deli case in the form of a large round loaf/tube. The sandwich contained the rolled pork slices and avocado on buttered and grilled pan amasado. Looking at the pork roll slices, it resembled headcheese, with bits of smaller pieces of meat in varying shades, with an outer reddish ring from the chilis and spice. This sandwich was also wonderfully flavored with just enough of a hint of spiciness, and the avocado again worked well to lubricate the whole thing.
If you step up to the counter at El Guaton, you'll notice these huge glass containers of pickled onions in red vinegar. When I first saw it, I thought it was a fruit drink of some sort, but was quickly corrected. I was told that it accompanies their meat entrees (or cazuelas on their menu). I have yet to venture into the entrees, but am inspired by their enthusiasm. I've tried ordering them on a couple occasions, but it seems that I'm always there too late in the evening to partake in these.
My other discovery at El Guaton is that the family running it represent a veritable melting pot. Between the husband/wife team that run the place, the husband is from Chile, and the wife is from France. Apparently, they met in Israel, where their first son was born (he's a fluent English, Spanish, and Hebrew speaker), and their second son was born in Germany, and then the family lived in Chile for a long stint before coming to the US. I dunno, but something about knowing this story seems to make their food just that much more tastier.
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