If you take a side-trip from Argentina to Uruguay, a must try food is the chivito sandwich, the national dish of Uruguay. The sandwich is made up of a thin piece of steak, cheese, tomatoes, mayonnaise, ham, a fried egg and often other ingredients including roasted peppers, olives, criolla sauce and mushrooms. To make it just a little more fattening, this it is served with a side of french fries and a beer. It isn’t a dish you’d want to eat on a daily basis, but it’s delicious and something I indulge in every time I take the ferry to Colonia or Montevideo.
The sandwich originated when an Argentine visiting Uruguay ordered goat (chivito) at a restaurant. The restaurant owner did not have goat available, so instead assembled a sandwich with beef and all of the now typical chivito sandwich toppings to make it difficult to tell it was beef and not goat. Word spread about how great the sandwich was, and it started being offered at restaurants throughout Uruguay. Today it is the national dish, and a summer vacation staple when visiting the beaches of Uruguay.
I’ve tried chivito at many restaurants and food stands around Uruguay, and conveniently my favorite is located at El Eslabon in Colonia, a popular daytrip from Buenos Aires. Similar to on our food tours, I was attracted to the food cart because it was very busy and filled with 100% locals. It is located just opposite the bus terminal near the ferry terminal. Look for the bright yellow food cart. Two friendly women that know most of their clients by name and are always in a good mood run it. Besides making a delicious chivito, they differentiate themselves by having a wide selection of homemade sauces and toppings.
To get a great authentic experience I highly recommend skipping the mostly overpriced and mediocre touristy restaurants located in the old town part of Colonia, and instead visiting El Eslabon for a chivito and a cold local beer.