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Sandwiches are beloved across the world. New Englanders have their grinders. Philly residents, their hoagies. The Vietnamese have the bánh mì, the French have the croque-monsieur, and the Malaysians have the roti. And then there’s the Venezuelans, who’ve managed to press and fry or grill plantains and corn into a new sort of bread for patacón and arepa sandwiches. These unique handheld treats are offered on the cheap at Patacón Pisao (multiple locations).
Patacón’s namesake item is by far the most popular item on the menu. Green plantains are flattened and fried into disks, kind of like a big tostone. And between two of these disks, you’ll find a stack of a variety of meats and veggies. Guests can pick their own fillings (ranging from shredded pork and chicken to fried egg, avocado, and jalapeño) or try one of the restaurant’s original creations. The paisa ($9) is chock-full of grilled steak, chorizo, avocado, sunny-side-up egg, ketchup, and salsa verde; the vegetarian ($8) is just as satiating, with black beans, avocado, queso blanco, sweet plantains, and salsa verde.
Don’t miss the arepas, which are just as good. Thin cornmeal patties are fried or grilled, then piled high with fillings. The Cubana ($7.50) is the spot’s riff on a Cuban sandwich. Pulled roasted pork, ham, fried queso blanco, half-sour pickles, and salsa verde hit all the notes of the traditional sandwich within the crisp sweet-corn bun. The Reina Pepia ($6) blends avocado and chicken in a chicken-salad-like combination.
Both the arepas and the patacones are gluten-free, as are the cachapas (sweet corn cake sandwiches). Venezuelan-style wraps, tacuchos, come in white flour or whole wheat tortillas with similar ingredient combinations. Same goes for the pepitos, hero-style sandwiches, which are also offered with customized fillings and toppings. Salads, sides (maduros with queso blanco and nata sauce), pastelitos (similar to empanadas), and house-made juices and drinks round out the menu. Everything is hearty and satisfying, and, unless you go crazy with the ingredients, nothing rings up at more than $10.
And with a Washington Heights food truck and storefronts in Elmhurst and the Lower East Side, there’s plenty of opportunity to hit this place without breaking the bank.