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Another Worthy Sandwich Without Bread Handily Uses a Crunchy Plantain

Critic Robert Sietsema grooves the Venezuelan patacón in his weekly sandwich column

Patacon made with chorizo
Paticon made with chorizo

It is my intention to celebrate the sandwich this year by finding as many tasty examples as possible, with a special emphasis on fringe styles, but also presenting sandwiches that were considered more normal 30 years ago that now seem quaint. I will do this weekly and periodically present round-ups of the ones I consider best.

Last week, we talked about a Japanese sandwich that had no bread at all, but instead two layers of rice on either side of some very sandwich-like components. In the course of that discussion, we mentioned another sandwich that contained no bread, in this case the Venezuelan patacón. These are now available in Venezuelan snack shops all over the city, which have been multiplying in the last few years as the political situation there has deteriorated.

Cachapas y Mas Inwood
Cachapas y Mas Inwood

Patacón is a South American Spanish term that refers to a slice of green plantain; the word itself originally referred to coins. By a feat of synecdoche, the word has also come to mean a sandwich consisting of two rounds of fried green plantain that, coupled with ingredients placed in between, constitutes a sandwich.

One of the best places to get a patacón is Cachapas y Mas, a colorfully decorated Venezuelan café in Inwood, whose mascot is an ear of corn with a cheerful face peeking out of its husk. Roast pork, shredded beef, and ham and cheese are popular fillings for the crunchy concoction, but my favorite utilizes a bouncy and garlicky chorizo cut lengthwise ($8). Yoyos are similar sandwiches made with ripe sweet plantain instead of woody green plantain. Either contraption is a nice alternative to sandwiches featuring slices of bread. 107 Dyckman St., between Post and Nagle avenues, Inwood

A beefsteak yoyo is made using sweet plantains.
A beefsteak yoyo is made using sweet plantains.

Cachapas y Mas

678 Seneca Avenue, Queens, NY 11385 (347) 721-3767 Visit Website