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I immediately grabbed a bite of the intestines and got that same chew and crunch I'd first experienced, then a taste of the bitterness I'd once thought so strange and now find oddly pleasant — especially when augmented by the tart chimichurri. Next I went for the Argentine sausage, packed with pungent ground pork flecked with garlic and hot red pepper — an adaptation for the American palate, I suspected, since the Argentines are notorious for liking bland food. Although both the chicken and beef had been hammered flat, they'd grilled up nicely, succulent yet infused with char. But I didn't want to fill up on these tamer meats, not when there was blood sausage to try. Many of the blood sausages on menus around town these days are really only 30 to 40 percent blood, supplemented by pork, fat and, sometimes, grains such as barley or oatmeal. Caminito Tango's version is closer to 90 percent, and very intense: dense with the metallic flavor of iron, laced with that strong offal essence, cut with very little fat and still incredibly rich. So rich, in fact, that I could only handle a couple of bites. I abandoned the sweetbreads after a few bites for a different reason: They hadn't been cooked long enough and were too chewy in the center to eat.

With all that meat in front of me, it was a while before I even looked at the bread — but when I did, I was hooked. There was nothing particularly special about this bread, which looked like a cross between an Italian loaf and a baguette, with a crusty outside and a very soft white center. But it was the exact bread I'd found in every bread basket in Buenos Aires, and hadn't seen since. So I ate slice after slice, dipping it into the chimichurri sauce and sopping up vivid memories of all my meals in Argentina. I left the mashed potatoes and salad to my friend, who'd given up on the offal.

This first meal at Caminito Tango made me hunger for other dishes I'd enjoyed in Buenos Aires; although the Argentines are famous for their grilled meats, most don't gorge on barbecue every day. So when I returned a few days later, I ordered a couple of the empanadas so popular in Argentina, picking two of the most common fillings: shredded chicken and ground beef mixed with green olives and hard-boiled egg. I opted for the baked instead of fried, and the fat little empanadas came marked with the kind of scorched spots you find on pizza crust. When I bit into the crisp, thin shell of one, savory chicken burned my tongue and juice spilled down my chin. I didn't care; I could have eaten a dozen.

Tirso Abarca delivers a taste of Argentina at Caminito Tango.
mark manger
Tirso Abarca delivers a taste of Argentina at Caminito Tango.

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Caminito Tango
Empanada $2.25
Choripan $5.99
Parillada Argentina (for two) $31.99
Panqueques $4.99
3555 West 38th Avenue
303-455-5333
Hours: 4:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

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Were I a true porteña — a native of Buenos Aires — I would have gone with a pasta dish next. Instead, I went with one of my favorite sandwiches, the choripan. A mini-baguette of that Argentine bread had been topped with one of the porky Argentine sausages from the parrillada, cut down the center and piled high with shredded iceberg and a couple of out-of-season tomato slices. The bread and toppings were enough to blunt the spice of the sausage; this time, it definitely needed a little chimichurri to perk it up.

I was stuffed, but I wasn't leaving without a taste of dulce de leche, the thick, slightly tart caramel that's made by reducing condensed milk. In Argentina, I ate it on toast, on fruit and on a spoon; here I ordered it in a crepe, the panqueque de dulce de leche. It came to my table licked by blue flames, which I quickly blew out so that I could cut into the crepe, chasing every last drop of the filling. Next time, I'll ask the kitchen to skip the alcohol; the presentation adds nothing to the flavor and just postpones the sugar rush.

It took my server several minutes to drop my check, but I was in no hurry. As tango music played from the stereo, I gave silent thanks to the country that inspired my gastronomic obsession and started my culinary education.

Nothing awful about that.

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11 comments
Perry Praysforrain
Perry Praysforrain

LOL ! Is this girl for real? Drop the pretense, Laura, and MAKE ME A SAMMICH!

Che
Che

to study borges and study the economics of the southern cone? please. nobody's buying that. you went cuz it was cheap and you heard the nightlife is great. no shame in that.

Georgia
Georgia

you lost me at offal

rain
rain

So how is the chimichurri sauce at Caminito Tango?

SeanStewart
SeanStewart

Wow... that made me feel like going to Caminito Tango and see what they've got for me...

I like the story though, being patient and conserving etiquette while waiting..... just to not ruin the night,,,,

I should say Caminito Tango should include itself at Crumblrr.com to maximize its presence online like Amore Infused.

More powers!

 
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