Barros Luco Is Just What New York’s Chilean Food Fans Have Been Waiting For
After visiting Chile last winter, I returned to New York City looking to feed my new-found craving for all the foods I had discovered on the trip. I needed an Empanada de pino, a heaping plate of chorrillana, completos, and churrasco sandwiches. And I wanted to wash it down with a mote con huesillos. And while you’d think NYC has pretty much every cuisine you could ever possibly want, for some reason Chile is woefully underrepresented… especially in Manhattan, where Pomaire (on 46th btw. 8+9th) is pretty much your only option (and too expensive for my taste.)
Well, this week my prayers to the food god of all things Chilean were answered when Barros Luco opened on 52nd Street, just east of 2nd Ave. Taking over the space that was occupied by 99 Miles to Philly, it’s pretty far out of bounds for Midtown Lunch’ing purposes… but I will walk that extra 5 minutes when avocado topped hot dogs are involved!
The menu at Barros Luco is divided into three main sections: Sandwiches, Empanadas, and Hot Dogs.
There are 5 main options for sandwiches, but it’s really just a matter of toppings. You pick steak or chicken, and then can have it topped with melted cheese, avocado (mashed to be liked guacamole), tomato, string beans, and mayo. Each sandwich has a different combo of those basic ingredients, and ranges in price from $5.99 (for just cheese) to $7.99 (for everything.) Can you guess which one I ordered?
The Chacarero Completo. Steak or chicken that’s been pounded thin (just like they do it in Chile), and topped with string beans, tomato, cheese, avocado, and mayo.
The bread is really thin, and looks like it might be hard… but don’t let that fool you. It’s homemade, soft, and goes perfectly with the ingredients. Not exactly like the bread I had in Chile, but close enough. I’m not sure the string beans add anything, but the steak was really flavorful, and if you like cheese and guac on your sandwiches, you will definitely like this one. Super tasty.
The chicken version was pretty much the same, just chicken instead of steak. Also pounded super thin, and really tasty.
The only major complaint I have is the size. To give you an idea of how small these bad boys are, that styrofoam container that it fits in is one of those small containers made for side dishes. It’s pretty small, and for $8 is probably not going to fill you up.
The hot dogs are a far better deal, with three choices of toppings. Italiano ($3.50) is the basic, with tomato, avocado, and mayo. The completo is the same plus sauerkraut (for $4.00), and the Dinamico is the completo plus relish and mustard for $4.50. I ordered the completo (which is the industry standard) although in retrospect I don’t remember getting sauerkraut on my completo in Chile- so next time I’ll probably just go with the Italiano. Once again, if the thought of an avocado and mayo topped hot dog sounds good to you, you’ll be all about these bad boys. Much better than a hot dog off the street- and worth the $3.50 (avocado is expensive.)
But the best part of the lunch was the empanada. Baked empanadas are everywhere in Chile, and the standard order is pino- a mixture of chunks of beef, tons of onions, egg and olives. I was a little concerned it wouldn’t have the egg and olives, because they only listed it as “beef baked” on the menu- but they came through.
It’s not called pino on the menu, but this is a real deal Chilean empanada- and tasted just like the ones we had in Chile. Once again, the only downside is the price. For $5 I expected it to be bigger than it was, but what are you going to do. It’s a good size (not small) but for $5 could be a tad bit bigger. They also have a chicken version of the baked empanada (for $5), and a whole mess of fried empanada options that are cheaper ($2.50 to $3.50), but baked is what I remember from being in Chile.
All in all there are certainly things to complain about. If you had ever been to original Chacarero in Boston (the window in Downtown Crossing), or are expecting a sandwich like the one you bought off that bus parked on La Carretera Austral, you could easily be disappointed. This is not a grungy, “authentic”, old school Chilean sandwich shop… the sandwiches are too small for the price, the string beans don’t add as much as they could, and maybe there are better places in Queens. That being said, at Barros Luco the ingredients are top notch, the food is delicious, and most importantly for at least an hour you can almost imagine being back in Chile. (Well, at least your mouth can.)
- If you want Chilean food, for lunch, in Midtown, this is pretty much your only option
- The baked beef empanada tastes exactly like the ones in Chile
- I love avocado on everything! And don’t mind paying for it… (avocado is expensive)
- I’m all about sandwiches were they pound the meat super thin
- ‘wichcraft charges $8 for tiny sandwiches, and these taste better
- There’s a nice seating area upstairs to eat your food
- The sandwiches are shockingly small, especially for $8
- $5 is way to much for an empanada (no matter how good it is!)
- The string beans don’t really add much to the sandwich
- I was hoping this would be just like Chacarero in Boston, or San Antonion Bakery in Queens
- Did I mention how small the sandwiches were?
Barros Luco, 300 1/2 East 52nd Street (near 2nd Ave.), 212-371-0100