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Fast Gourmet, Uruguayan Sandwich Shop at 14th and W Streets NW - Closed


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Surprised I have not seen a thread on Fast Gourmet. I travel to Latin America a lot for work, and many of my colleagues (all Latin Americans themselves) started talking recently about a great sandwich place in a gas station in DC. Since I love a good sandwich, I resolved to try it out yesterday.

First, the location -- it's in the "Lowest Best Price" gas station on 14th and W -- no real signage, and from the outside you would think it's a regular exxon-type grab and go place. But, inside they have made a huge effort to make it clean, appealing, and, dare I say, cool, with a neat color scheme and a cute menu with chalk drawings. There are also tables to sit at. Still, you'll know you are in a gas station, and the crowd is funny, a mix of Latin Americans (both from the neighborhood and more upscale embassy/IDB types), hipsters, cab drivers, and a few cracked-out people wandering in off the street to buy cigars from the gas station part.

The food. Oh my god, the food. The menu is a mix of regular american sandwiches (turkey, steak and cheese, etc.), salads, empanadas, and some Latin specialities. There is a supposedly good Cubano, and, in my opinion, one of the best Latin national sandwiches, the national sandwich of Uruguay, the chivito. Turns out, the owners are two Uruguayan brothers, so they know their chivitos. For the uninitiated, it is a sandwich with a thin beef steak cooked "a la plancha" on medianoche bread with mayo, ham, hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. It is heaven, and, for you Spanish speakers, even though it is called a chivito it does not have goat in it.

I ordered the chivito yesterday ($12, all sandwiches come with ok, but not great fries) and it was FANTASTIC. It was as good as, if not better than the chivitos I have had in Montevideo. My partner, who had never had a chivito before, ate some of mine and proclaimed it the best sandwich he ever had. The only MINOR quibble would be that there was a lot of mayo, but that is how they like it in Uruguay, and I, too, like it that way. You may want to ask for a little less mayo if you are mayo-squamish. Also note, the $12 price tag may seem high, but this is a huge sandwich, enough for two people or two meals.

My partner wanted the cubano, but they were out of the ingredients until 2 pm, so he ordered the greek salad with lamb. We expected it to be a boring salad, but, actually it was great, with many large chunks of freshly grilled lamb.

I highly recommend this place! They are open long hours and do delivery. I couldn't find the menu online, but I did find their facebook page -- http://www.facebook....ET/103364437659

As my partner said to me when we were leaving, this might have to be the year of the chivito!

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I second the recommendation for this place. I can't speak to how they compare with others since I've never tried them before, but the chivito at fast gourmet is a damn good sandwich. I also really like their tuna salad, which is packed with big pieces of good quality tuna mixed with capers and raisins. Their desserts have been good, too. Kind of a bizarre place in a really strange location, but I'm very happy to have them around.

The web site is www.fast-gourmet.com.

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Funny, I was about to start this thread last week but my computer froze 3/4 of the way through my post and I couldn't be bothered to re-type. I third the recommendation, this place was fun, if a bit overpriced, and have a solid 3 mile radius for delivery. I had the Chivito, which I liked but had too much going on. Cook the steak a little less, get rid of the olives and hard boiled egg and we have a winner. My wife's Fish Sandwich, however, was perfect in it's simplicity. Fried to perfection with a light tartar sauce on their soft homemade bread it made me yearn for what I remember Eamonn's was a couple years back. Definitely a go to upon return.

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I ordered the chivito yesterday ($12, all sandwiches come with ok, but not great fries) and it was FANTASTIC. It was as good as, if not better than the chivitos I have had in Montevideo.

I had the Chivito today (it's $13, not $12), and it's one of the greatest sandwiches I've ever eaten. My only quibble (and it's a small one) is that it could have used a bit less mayo because (as DPop pointed out) there's so much else going on.

Cheers,

Rocks

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I had the Chivito today (it's $13, not $12), and it's one of the greatest sandwiches I've ever eaten. My only quibble (and it's a small one) is that it could have used a bit less mayo because (as DPop pointed out) there's so much else going on.

Cheers,

Rocks

What did you think of the fries? I got lunch from them today as well, and they're experimenting with a thicker cut of fry. Still not great, but better than the thin McDonald's-like ones they had before, which would get cold and limp quickly with takeout orders. I talked to the owner and they're trying to decide which ones to offer after getting complaints about the thin fries. So now's your time to vote if you prefer one over the other.

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What did you think of the fries? I got lunch from them today as well, and they're experimenting with a thicker cut of fry. Still not great, but better than the thin McDonald's-like ones they had before, which would get cold and limp quickly with takeout orders. I talked to the owner and they're trying to decide which ones to offer after getting complaints about the thin fries. So now's your time to vote if you prefer one over the other.

I'd never even heard of this place until Rieux posted, so today's the first time I went. This sandwich is so hearty that it benefits from the thicker, non-dainty fries I had today (Peter Smith may disagree) - add the fact that many people will be scarfing this food in their cars, and your point about retaining heat becomes even more important (unless, of course, you're like me and finished the entire thing in about ten minutes. :)) Having had only one item here, I can't vote across-the-board, but I liked these fries with the Chivito; I can see thinner ones going better with the tuna salad, in theory.

Cheers,

Rocks

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Yes, I've gotten delivery. It was a bit of a disorganized effort--they decided to substitute a slice of chocolate cake for the spinach pie we ordered when they discovered they were out (admittedly after trying and failing to reach me at the phone number I gave them, but still...chocolate cake for spinach pie?) and forgot a part of the order which they then had to go back and get, but we did eventually get our food. I guess they're still ironing the kinks out of that part of the operation, but they are trying.

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I talked to the owner and they're trying to decide which ones to offer after getting complaints about the thin fries.

It looks like they're sticking with the thin fries. I prefer a thicker cut personally but the matchsticks were crisp, well seasoned, and perfectly fine.

But you're not coming here for the fries. You're here for the chivito (PROTIP: you can sub the hard boiled egg for a fried egg and really take things to the next level). You're here for the incredibly tender lamb wrap. You're here for the cuban, which I'd put up against any in the city right now. They are knocking things out of the park at Fast Gourmet, and it's really fun to watch them do it. I wish I lived closer.

Just as a heads up - if you come for lunch don't expect particularly fast service. It's not slow per se but they can get a little backed up, especially as take out orders keep increasing.

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First we got the pizzas. Then we got the burgers. Now the people of DC get the last piece of the holy trinity of casual American food; the sandwich. Between this place, Locolat, MGM Roast Beef & Co, and to a lesser extent, Taylor's and Italian Store, we finally have several outstanding options when it comes to getting a good old fashioned sandwich.

The Cuban is better than the Chivito. And that's not a knock on the Chivito. Just sayin.

I had a conversation with the guy at the counter about the fries and they said they started with the shoestrings and got a lot of complaints from the delivery customers that they were soggy and limp by the time they got there so they switched to the thicker, frozen fries. He told me that most of their business is in store and the regulars clamored for the thin ones and they have them back for good, most likely. This is a good thing. FYI they put sour cream and bacon on the chili cheese fries (oink oink!).

My not-so-bold prediction for 2011; once the Logan Circle/U Street/Columbia Heights/Dupont yuppie crowd hear about this place you will have to wait an hour plus on weekends during lunch and dinner for a sandwich. The staff are as nice as it gets but the place is not built to handle high volume and I get the impression that they are very laid back. As Don is fond of saying, GO NOW, as this is the best this place is ever going to be.

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My not-so-bold prediction for 2011; once the Logan Circle/U Street/Columbia Heights/Dupont yuppie crowd hear about this place you will have to wait an hour plus on weekends during lunch and dinner for a sandwich. The staff are as nice as it gets but the place is not built to handle high volume and I get the impression that they are very laid back. As Don is fond of saying, GO NOW, as this is the best this place is ever going to be.

I agree, this place is going to catch on fire (hopefully not literally since it's a gas station). Also, I asked the gentleman working the register what I should try next time - he said the Cubano. Then I met Manuel (one of the two brothers; the other is the cook), and asked him the same question - he said (to my surprise) the tuna which is made with yellowfin. But man, it's going to be difficult to stray from that Chivito.

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Had the Chivito today. Love the saltiness from the ham and olives. There are a ton of ingredients on this enormous sandwich, but thankfully, it all stays between the bread. I think this is a great quality in a sandwich.

Would love a different type of lettuce or something else to give it more crunch. The green leaf lettuce on my sandwich today was perfectly fresh, but lost any crunch it may have had due to the warm ingredients from the rest of the sandwich (took it "to go", however, which likely played a role in the lettuce's demise). Definitely up there with the Pattison Avenue as one of the better sandwiches in town (we need more - ANY - of these places in Alexandria).

I thought this was a bit weird, though: I felt like some ingredients (roasted red pepper, mushrooms, rosemary) were decidedly on one half of my sandwich, and not the other. :)

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Had the Chivito today ... I thought this was a bit weird, though: I felt like some ingredients (roasted red pepper, mushrooms, rosemary) were decidedly on one half of my sandwich, and not the other. :)

Say hi next time.

My sandwich similarly had the escabeche more to one half than the other. I actually flipped a few mushrooms to the other half, because you really need that vinegar to cut the fat.

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I thought this was a bit weird, though: I felt like some ingredients (roasted red pepper, mushrooms, rosemary) were decidedly on one half of my sandwich, and not the other. :)

Say hi next time.

My sandwich similarly had the escabeche more to one half than the other. I actually flipped a few mushrooms to the other half, because you really need that vinegar to cut the fat.

For years, I have vehemently denied being a "food geek," but I now have to admit that I have contributed to the creation of an environment where people feel comfortable criticizing the uneven distribution of vegetables on a sandwich that was purchased inside of a gas station.

:)

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Well, Todd Kliman just wrote a nice description about this place on his chat, so I guess I'll be waiting awhile before heading here....

['Twas a fait accompli after Rieux's convincing post over a week ago, my good lady; it was a matter of "when" and not "if."

Sometimes I wonder if people here fully understand the reach of what they write (and why I'm such a stickler for personal responsibility). Please understand that the reason I'm saying all this is because I want to encourage people here to write substantive, meaningful posts, just like Rieux did. I promise you they have impact.]

Cheers,

Rocks

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['Twas a fait accompli after Rieux's convincing post over a week ago, my good lady; it was a matter of "when" and not "if."

Sometimes I wonder if people here fully understand the reach of what they write (and why I'm such a stickler for personal responsibility). Please understand that the reason I'm saying all this is because I want to encourage people here to write substantive, meaningful posts, just like Rieux did. I promise you they have impact.]

Cheers,

Rocks

To be fair, some local blogs deserve credit as well, since they been hyping this place for about a month now. I personally didn't hear about it until this thread started, but I was surprised to find a number of blog posts dated well before this. They almost always seem to involve an email from someone singing the restaurant's praises (much like in Kliman's chat). If it's the same person sending these emails, then s/he deserves A LOT of credit for spreading the word.

That being said, I did get a chance to try the chivito, and it was as amazing as advertised. My gf wanted to try the cuban, but unfortunately, they were out. The cashier recommended we try the falafel. I only tried a couple bites, but I remember it was very good with a nice assortment of toppings. Honestly, I was too enamored with my chivito to focus on anything else...

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To be fair, some local blogs deserve credit as well, since they been hyping this place for about a month now. I personally didn't hear about it until this thread started, but I was surprised to find a number of blog posts dated well before this. They almost always seem to involve an email from someone singing the restaurant's praises (much like in Kliman's chat). If it's the same person sending these emails, then s/he deserves A LOT of credit for spreading the word.

That being said, I did get a chance to try the chivito, and it was as amazing as advertised. My gf wanted to try the cuban, but unfortunately, they were out. The cashier recommended we try the falafel. I only tried a couple bites, but I remember it was very good with a nice assortment of toppings. Honestly, I was too enamored with my chivito to focus on anything else...

Thanks, Don. I hadn't seen any blog posts on this, and it came to me by word of mouth at work, but it's nice to see this place getting recognized in multiple venues and from multiple sources. (I wouldn't dare to think my little post had anything to do with Kliman's mention). This place just struck a chord with me. As someone who works on small business development in Latin America, I want to see the Uruguayan guys make it.

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I feel like I'm getting a little DanCole-fanboyish in this thread, but I have to pop in to say that that is one pretty fucking awesome Tuna Sandwich. Not close to the stuff you get out of the can, these are big chunks of either pan-fried or grilled (didn't ask) yellowfin tuna, dressed delicately with mayo, capers, red onions and raisins. They said it came on a 'brioche' but what I got was two thin slices of white bread, which was a little disappointing but didn't detract from the overall experience enough for me not to get this again.

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I feel like I'm getting a little DanCole-fanboyish in this thread, but I have to pop in to say that that is one pretty fucking awesome Tuna Sandwich. Not close to the stuff you get out of the can, these are big chunks of either pan-fried or grilled (didn't ask) yellowfin tuna, dressed delicately with mayo, capers, red onions and raisins. They said it came on a 'brioche' but what I got was two thin slices of white bread, which was a little disappointing but didn't detract from the overall experience enough for me not to get this again.

Some people work their whole lives to try to get a reputation...

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Wow this place is crazy good. Had a meatball sandwich and some empandas. Both were excellent. The meatball sandwich was on their homemade bread. Not sure how to describe the bread - sort of like potato bread and very very good. Meatballs were flavorful, tomato sauce was nice and garlicy and the panini grilling added a nice crisp crust to the sandwich. Out of fries today - so potato chips were offered. The empanadas were great too. The corn ones are particularly fabulous - filled with creamed corn and chunks of ham. Thanks for this find!

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I drank the Kool Aid yesterday.

Had the chivito delivered. Everyone who came in my office while I was eating was jealous, including the vegetarian.

So much going on in one sandwich and so good.

Fries were skinny and would have been fantastic if they hadn't had to suffer through delivery. Reheated they were still good.

Go drink the Kool Aid.

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I tried this place on Saturday. We ordered a cubano and a chivito and split them. This is, as stated, way too much food for one sitting. The fries were thin and cold, but really quite irrelevant. The cubano was one of the best versions of this sandwich I have had ever. The pork was roasted (seven hours) and pulled. It was moist and a little fatty and omg, not sliced. As I was bragging about how awesome the cubano was, the wife was saying hers was better, without even trying the cubano. She was right. The chivito was one amazing sandwich. Especially the little acid the red peppers and mushrooms gave it as well as the olives tartness. Side by side the chivito blows the cubano out of the water, but if you go in for a couple cubanos, they will be the best cubanos in the area.

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By now I've been to Fast Gourmet probably a dozen times and tried a lot of things on its menu (I live just a couple of blocks away) and it's taken me this long to find something I didn't like - the spinach pie is under-seasoned spinach and hard boiled egg in a dense, doughy, pastry. Really nothing to recommend about it. The two empanadas, on the other hand, which rounded out my meal the other day, were fantastic. Deep fried crispy shell holding finely ground, very nicely seasoned ground beef (and not much else...none of the raisins, green olives, nuts or anything else you sometimes find in empanadas. Maybe this is just the Uruguayan style?) and another one with an interesting combination of corn and ham. It's hard not to choose one of the great sandwiches on this menu, but when you do feel like something else a couple of empanadas make a nice alternative.

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I can't quite joint the Alleluah Chorus on this place. Best Chivito I ever had, of course, and it's a pretty decent sandwich. But it didn't change my world and, in an age of 10-oz burgers and overstuffed sandwiches, it didn't strike me as particularly large, either.

Fine stuff, and I'm sure I'll be in the mood again, but it didn't make my leg quiver or anything.

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I tried the chivito this weekend- worth the drive down from Baltimore. I'm surprised the blogs I've read have not posted pics of the chivito itself. Here it is! pics

Since I had my fries on site, I thought they were great- reminded me of Steak & Shake fries from the Midwest. I can see how they won't make it beyond a 15-20 minute window.

Has anyone tried the lemongrass coleslaw?

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I can't quite joint the Alleluah Chorus on this place. Best Chivito I ever had, of course, and it's a pretty decent sandwich. But it didn't change my world and, in an age of 10-oz burgers and overstuffed sandwiches, it didn't strike me as particularly large, either.

Fine stuff, and I'm sure I'll be in the mood again, but it didn't make my leg quiver or anything.

I'm in the minority with Waitman. The Chivito was good, but wasn't blowing my socks off or anything (In other words, I didn't think it was worth $14). Maybe I just didn't get a good one-- I'm sure I'll be back to try it again at some point.

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This place is about 5 blocks from my apartment, and I've been drooling over it since the first time I had it. I have a class two blocks away on Tuesday nights, and my new Tuesday night routine involves getting a sandwich on the walk home every week. Also ordered delivery a couple times. I've now tried the meatball, steak and cheese, BBQ pork, chicken salad, Cubano and Chivito. The Chivito is great, but they all are - I don't see the point in spending the extra $3.50. The pulled pork has a pineapple BBQ that just works, and its topped with their lemon grass coleslaw. The meatballs are fantastic, made with black angus and chorizo. Steak was even better. Chicken salad was quite good, if not as amazing as the other sandwiches. Cubano is my favorite, had it a few times now.

Sandwich rankings so far:

1. Cubano

2. Steak and cheese

3. Meatball

4. Chivito (only lower because of extra price)

5. BBQ pork

6. Chicken Salad

I'll have to try the tuna, as I've heard a lot of people raving about it.

Oh, and I should add that while the fries are pretty solid, opt to pay the extra $.50 or $1 to try some of the other sides. The sweet potato fries are great and have a nice dusting of cinnamon sugar, coleslaw an russian salad are also good.

DC sorely needed a good sandwich place, and I can't say enough good things about Fast Gourmet.

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I'm in the minority with Waitman. The Chivito was good, but wasn't blowing my socks off or anything (In other words, I didn't think it was worth $14). Maybe I just didn't get a good one-- I'm sure I'll be back to try it again at some point.

a close call, but it didn't blow my socks off, but what does these days, and i thougt it was worth the money.

watch out for those small bottles of green sauce on the tables. as the bubbles should tell you, it's hand sanitizer.

this is one of the only eateries i have ever been to where the cement floor made sense.

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That chivito is one damn fine sandwich. The first one I had was better than the second, but I still can't think of a better sandwich I've had in the city... can I?

...

No. I got nothing.

It's a creative meld of ingredients, each of which is prepared well individually then compiled into a sandwich with surprising structural integrity (seriously, this thing could be a mess, but it's NOT) whose sum is much greater than its parts. (Think BLT. Steak and cheese. Liver and onions.) And this is a new combination--at least around these here parts--that by the third bite became something that made me a convert who now twitches the twice a day I have to ride by that place on the bus. On top of it all, it's one of those things that requires so many different, well-made components that it's better to buy the thing than try to make it at home. (Central's lobster burger. Sushi. Pete's Apizza. McDonald's french fries.)

No, it's not going to change your life. But it is one Damn. Fine. Sandwich.

The cubano? Eh. The components are very good, especially the roast pork, which is not sliced but pulled (big chunks, not fine). But it needed more acid--the pickles were too mild, as was the mustard--and was just okay. I will explore the rest of the menu, but probably will not go back to the cubano. But let's please take that with a grain of salt, as 1) it was tasted alongside the dreamy chivito, 2) it's still probably a lot better than most cubanos in the city, and 3) I bought it AT A GAS STATION.

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If it is the gas station experience that you crave, you might want to try the Taco Bar near the Rio Center in Gaithersburg. It is surprisingly good, quick, clean, and yes, it is in a gas station.

Also head down south, Charlottesville has some great sandwich spots in gas stations (Durty Nelly's-not upscale and Bellair Market-upscale) come to mind

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Fast Gourmet is pretty close to the best food out of a gas station- but the winner is Oklahoma Joe's BBQ in Kansas City. Mmm, those burnt ends.

Fast Gourmet did wow me with its incredible value and attention to detail. All of the ingredients are fresh and well put together. One of the owners even seemed to be listening to some sort of consultant this afternoon on improving the restaurant. Though I just had the meatball today, I will most definitely be back for more.

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My friend and I had a Chivito v. Cubano sandwich-off over the weekend.

Hands down the Chivito won...awesome sandwich. The Cubano was good, but just couldn't compete.

I think places like Fast Gourmet are what turn good food cities into great food cities. DC definitely needs more small local food joints like Fast Gourmet.

oh, and at 1 pm on a Friday afternoon they were doing slamming business. All the seats full and at least 15 people in line or waiting for their orders to come up.

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I was in the area Friday around 12:30 so I finally tried the Chivito. It was a truly great sandwich and made me very happy. I got it to go and it survived the 20 minute drive to work. The fries, however, were not so great, but I really didn't care because the Chivito was plenty, and so good. I will dream about it till I get another.

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When I went two weeks ago, they had the skinny fries, which I quite liked (but I'm not too picky on fries as long as they're fresh and crispy). I did eat inside the place, not take-out, though.

Had the chivito since it was so talked about. Found it...okay. Sort of disappointing, as are most things that are hyped, I suppose. Way too salty because of the capers + mayo + cheese, but that's probably a personal thing. It did make it really hard for me to taste any of the components except for one big assault, though. It really would have benefited from an actual fried egg with soft yolk, as that would have mellowed out the flavors a bit. I could hardly see the hard-boiled egg they put in it, nor could I taste it at all.

My dining partner had the tuna, which was much better. If I go back, I'll try something with less going on. I think the chivito is one of those "eyes bigger than stomach" type of thing.

Service was wonderful. Such nice guys behind the counter.

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When I went two weeks ago, they had the skinny fries, which I quite liked (but I'm not too picky on fries as long as they're fresh and crispy). I did eat inside the place, not take-out, though.

Had the chivito since it was so talked about. Found it...okay. Sort of disappointing, as are most things that are hyped, I suppose. Way too salty because of the capers + mayo + cheese, but that's probably a personal thing. It did make it really hard for me to taste any of the components except for one big assault, though. It really would have benefited from an actual fried egg with soft yolk, as that would have mellowed out the flavors a bit. I could hardly see the hard-boiled egg they put in it, nor could I taste it at all.

My dining partner had the tuna, which was much better. If I go back, I'll try something with less going on. I think the chivito is one of those "eyes bigger than stomach" type of thing.

Service was wonderful. Such nice guys behind the counter.

FYI, I had the chivito a few weeks ago, late at night, and it was pretty lame (and yet, I've had two people approach me recently, raving about it). A place like this is only as good as whomever is making the sandwiches on any given shift.

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