Menu Spanish isn't too difficult to pick up in Denver, with plenty of Mexican restaurants — and a few Central and South American eateries — to let you work on your language skills while enjoying delicious food. But the Spanish names of meats can get a little confusing to those who haven't traveled abroad — or studied butchering for an in-depth understanding of meat cuts. Pollo is chicken, of course, but pork and beef can come with many different names, depending on the cut and style of cooking. But two South American sandwiches throw out all notions of word-for-word translations with names that in no way match the kind of meat found within.
Lomo, in culinary terms, mean loin, and you'll generally see it on menus offering beef sirloin steak in some form. Lomo de cerdo, then, is pork loin. In some countries, lomito refers specifially to pork tenderloin, so you'd expect a sandwich called a lomito to be stuffed with that particular cut of the pig. In Argentina, a lomito sandwich is made using the appropriate beef cut, and in Chile you'll find pork loin. But a Colombian lomito, as served from the La Chiva food truck, uses slow-cooked and shredded shoulder — a little farther north on the pig than the loin or tenderloin.
La Chiva's lomito also stacks smoked Gouda cheese, honey ham and mixed veggies in a bun smeared with brown mustard. The shoulder itself is lightly sauced so that there's just a hint of something akin to chimichurri; the result is a South American equivalant of a Carolina pulled-pork sandwich, only absent the vinegar tang and heavy smoke. A side of crunchy fried plantain stands in admirably for French fries; if the sandwich is a little too bready for your liking, you can have the pulled pork served directly on smashed and fried plantain disks called patacones. Look for La Chiva on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Civic Center Park and at various other locations and events around town.
Those with a fondness for goat know to look for chivo on Mexican restaurant menus, especially at those places that serve birria de chivo, a saucy, braised goat dish with origins in Jalisco. And La Chiva food truck is named for the chiva buses in Colombia that wend their way through mountain passes like agile goats. But the Argentinian/Uruguayan chivito sandwich doesn't even contain a little goat. Instead, steak and ham are the primary proteins, with a fried egg and melted cheese adding richness. Buenos Aires Pizzeria at 1319 22nd Street might be the only place in Denver to grab a chivito. When you go, ask for your egg sunny-side up unless you like a hard-cooked egg (which seems to be the default temperature). Even if you can't get your goat, this Argentinian cafe will have your chivito.
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