Six Lunches Midtown Needs from South America

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It’s been ages since I got back from my month-long trip to Peru and Argentina, but as I settle into a new area of midtown, I can’t help but think back to all the wonderful foods that I wish was readily available for lunch. Besides being crazy cheap, it was just all so tasty. See what I’ve been craving after the jump..

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1. Juice bar sandwiches - Here in New York, a juice bar is a place where health nuts go to avoid eating real food. In Lima, it’s a place where they sell juices of various rainforest fruits that we’ve never, ever heard of. And also, dozens of sandwiches from burgers and hot dogs to sausage and any number of other pork options. Above is my favorite, the El Enano (US$4), at the juice bar of the same name, was packed with seven slices of lomito, cured pork loin topped with avocado.

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This sausage and cheese came in a pretty close second.

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2. Picarones - We have plenty of doughnuts here, but nothing like Picarones. For US$1.50, a few of these small, light rings of fried dough that are sold in carts in parks around Lima. They’re topped with an herby syrup that’s so much lighter in flavor and body than you’d expect by looking at it.

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3. Anticuchos – Restaurants around Peru tend to call marinated meat on a stick Anticuchos or Anticuchos-style, but the real deal is made from chunks of beef hearts, so tenderized that you’d never know it wasn’t chargrilled sirloin. The meat so intensely beefy and pretty much the best skewer I’ve ever had.

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4. Ceviche - In Peru, traditional ceviche is made with the morning catch and is considered a quintessential lunch dish. For around US$10, you get a huge bowl of sharp, tangy onions, fish and shellfish along with a couple veggies.

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5. Grilled platters –  Even with a generous currency conversion, Argentina’s famous meat platters are a bit of a splurge. I honestly can’t remember how much this mixed grill plate of chorizo, blood sausage, sweetbreads and chicken cost, but if it was more than US$15, I’d be shocked.

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6. Choripan – If you’re looking for more of a lunch bargain, these chorizo sandwiches cost under US$3 each.

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The choripan comes with three different sauces to top them with.

The good news is that this is New York and most likely there’s -somewhere- to find most of this food. The bad news is that more often than not it either costs a lot more cash or requires an expedition into the wilds of Queens to track it down. Neither makes for a good Midtown Lunch. Have other South American foods you wish we had in Midtown? Even better, know where we can get some of it in ML bounds? Let us know in the comments.

4 Comments

  • Nice! One of the best foods in Mexico is grilled chicken. I have never seen Mexican grilled chicken in the states. Charcoal grilled, with rice, tortillas and pickled onions. So simple and amazing.

  • The thing I’ve been really craving from Argentina are medialunas. Basically croissants but somewhat different, they come in sweet and non-sweet versions. Has anyone seen them here? I’m thinking there has to be an Argentine bakery in Queens that sells them.

  • I had some of those, too, but they seemed more of a breakfast dish, so I didn’t include them.

  • bringing back barros luco would be a start…

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