Fuente Mardoqueo: Best sánguches in town

The search is over. I’ve found the perfect chacarero!

cacharero, Fuente Mardoqueo, sánguche

The perfect Chacarero: tasty beef topped with fresh tomato, crisp green beans, and a touch of green chili

I am admittedly not the world’s biggest sandwich fan…and them’s fightin’ words in Chile.  Chileans love—and passionately defend—their beloved sánguches. So I’m here to call a truce. And while I’m not likely to ever get up much enthusiasm for the basic avocado- and mayo-smeared ham & cheese, there are other Chilean sandwich combinations that are pretty hard to resist. Make mine a chacarero, a super sánguche whose special defining feature is a big pile of green beans. Yep, that’s right, green beans. Who knew?

Fuente MardoqueoFuente Mardoqueo, half a block from the Plaza Yungay, is one of those word-of-mouth type places—a true picada—and it had been on our radar for a while. We even stopped in one day and asked for a beer to kill time before meeting family for lunch, but were turned down point blank. Nope, this is a sandwich shop. You go there to eat. You eat, you can have a beer, not the other way around.

So we tried again yesterday. We had been wandering around Plaza Yungay with my father-in-law, who told us story after story about growing up in the barrio and the Fiesta del Roto Chileno; we gazed up at the sad state of the church where he made his first communion, and he chuckled about the favorite parish priest who kept the boys in line by threatening them with “San Martines” (a knuckle whack on the head) when they misbehaved. We rounded the corner and found ourselves at the door of my new favorite picada.

Fuente Mardoqueo

It’s a fun place. The kind that draws you in and begs you to check out room after room. There’s clearly a collector in the family—old cameras hang on one wall, typewriters on another, tea cups, mini-booze bottles, sewing machines, one collection after another hang on the deep yellow walls. Even the restrooms have a collection of old enamel bed pans (now there’s a term I never thought I’d use while food writing!)

Fuente MardoqueoDon’t look for a table. There aren’t any. You’ll perch on a high stool at one of the long wooden bars that line the walls and stripe down the middle of each of the 3 rooms. A long row of condiments, sauces, and even real (paper) napkins (none of the typical soda fountain “face scraper” squares here) runs down the center.

No one’s going to wait on you either. Make your choice from the illuminated menu on the wall. The list is short but juicy: small and large versions of 5 sandwiches: Lomito (pork or poultry), Churrasco (thinly sliced beef), Chacarero (beef, tomato, green beans, and green chilies), Barros Luco (beef and melted cheese), and Tuna. Vegetarians can concoct their own sandwich from the long list of “extras” (avocado, tomatoes, beans, pickles, sauerkraut, olives, etc.).

Fuente MardoqueoThese are sandwiches (ahem, sánguches) done right. The lomito is the star of the house, so I’ve definitely got a return trip coming up in the near future, but yesterday, I was in a chacarero state of mind. And oh, was that the right choice! Forget the typical version with overcooked, tough, and tasteless meat topped with soggy grayish beans. We’re talking about a fresh, lightly toasted frica roll piled with juicy, tasty beef cooked just right, and the perfectly blanched string beans (always frenched in Chile) remain bright green and crisp (definitely beats mushy lettuce!). Don’t even think about trying to eat this out of hand; a knife and fork are definitely required.

Fuente Mardoqueo, draft beer, cerveza

Fuente Mardoqueo has a good selection of bottled and draft beer

They offer a nice selection of national, international, artisanal, and draft beers, as well as soft drinks and juice. No wine, no chips. Just a helluva good sandwich and something to wash it down with.

You won’t need a lot of cash—lomitos are $2500 and could easily be shared—but you will need an appetite. I ordered the “small” version of the chacarero and only managed to get through it by leaving most of the bread on my plate. My vegetarian husband was happy with his veggie sandwich glued together with plenty of avocado (palta) and green chilies, and my suegro, despite his hearty appetite, could not get through his entire Barros Luco.

Although most picadas fail on the bonito part of the 3B (bueno, bonito y barato), this one nails all three.  A must.

For more on Chilean sandwiches, see: Sánguches.

Fuente Mardoqueo
Av. Libertad 551
Barrio Yungay, Santiago de Chile
F: 681-6556 / 681-4211
www.fuentemardoqueo.cl

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8 Comments

Filed under Food, Restaurants

8 responses to “Fuente Mardoqueo: Best sánguches in town

  1. Pingback: Sánguches | Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  2. Barb

    Peg,
    I don’t think sandwich’s are our mother’s PB&J anymore! I could not believe the choices once I left Minoa :)
    Your descriptions make it impossible to pass by, should I ever be in that neighborhood! Love the green beans, you’re right – who knew?
    Barb

    • Barb- I still like a good PBJ, BLT, or Pastrami on rye, but few Chileans would recognize one. The classic sandwiches here are big and hearty and must be eaten with a knife and fork!
      But the ingredients are easy to find just about anywhere, so we can make some next time I’m in town!

  3. Glad you liked it, if only you’d listened to me, you’d have been eating it months ago! And yes, tossing part of the bread is essential. I have a secret cheapie peruvian sandwich place where they put string potatoes on your sandwich if you like. I might have to write that one up, soon!

    • Eileen- it’s been on our radar for ages now, and yes, I do remember reading your piece on sandwiches, but since sandwiches aren’t usually my thing, it didn’t filter up to the top of the list until just recently… And now you’ve got me intrigued… secret and string potatoes being the key words, with cheapie and Peruvian coming up close on its heels! All I know is that if I find more places as good as this, I’m going to become a big sánguche convert!

  4. Matt

    Peg,

    Great story; these are my kind of places!

    Can you spell r-e-c-i-p-e? What kind of beef and how was it done?

    • Hi Matt! Oh yes, I KNOW you’d love this place! And you need a RECIPE? Nah! I’ve never made them at home, but here’s what I’d do (Anyone want to correct me on this?) Start with good quality, thinly sliced steak (churrasco) or pork loin (I prefer beef) in bite sized strips, fry it just til juicy. French, blanch and drain the beans. Peel and slice the tomatoes (Chileans always peel their tomatoes). The bread (pan frica) is something along the lines of an excellent, thin, sturdy hamburger roll. Lightly toast the flat side and spread a bit of mayo (Chileans use lots). Pile on the meat, some tomato slices, the green beans, and some sliced green chili peppers to taste (the typical chili here is like the long yellow-green Italian pepper). Pretty simple really! And ohhhh so good!

  5. FYI- Took friends visiting from the US to Mardoqueo last night and they loved it. Great place to bring hungry friends for a hearty taste of Chile without breaking the bank. Later walked around Plaza Yungay- just half a block down.

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