Chivito para dos in Colón, Argentina

Steak is often the centerpiece of meals in Argentina and Uruguay, and it’s delicious without much dressing up. So whoever thought to top it with a fried egg, mozzarella, and ham? Pure genius.

While I’ve heard claims that the story behind the chivitos origins is urban legend, I tend to buy it because…well, it’s just not that remarkable. As it goes, back in the 60’s an Argentine woman vacationing in Punta del Este went to a restaurant and asked for chivito (little goat) like they had back home in Córdoba. Basically, she was craving a baby goat sandwich. Since the chef didn’t have any goat meat, he created this sandwich instead and dubbed it chivitoIt’s now recognized as a national dish in Uruguay, and is also popular in parts of Argentina where it’s sometimes called lomito. It’s usually served on a crusty roll with a thin slice of churrasco, fried or hard-boiled egg, ham, mayo, cheese, and tomato.

Chivito al plato is basically just served without the bread, usually over papas fritas. Sometimes it’s served with a side of Russian salad (as in the photo above), which I’d never heard of before but is a little heavy on the mayonnaise for my taste.

Chivito al plato in Colonia, Uruguay

While I love the sandwich version, particularly of the street vendor variety, I find them really messy to eat so I prefer to go al plato and dig in with a fork and knife. Not that eating one of these is possible without making a mess. They tend to be on the gargantuan side.

If you’re not in the neighborhood, try making one at home. A recent article in the New York Times puts chivito on par with iconic sandwiches like the Reuben and Philly cheesesteak, and offers a breakdown of recommendations for preparing them.