"Nice. It smells like abutifarra
," said our resident Peruvian, Miche. "Looks like the real thing too." I had brought him back said butifarra from
-- a Peruvian sandwich shop in the north side of Wilton Manors -- partially because he couldn't get away from his desk for lunch. But mostly, I brought him back one because I wanted someone well-acquainted with the typical Peruvian sandwich of criolo-style country ham and red onions to test its authenticity.
Turns out, Miche devoured the butifarra and loved every minute of
it, saying it was the closest thing to the sandwiches of his mother
country he's ever had stateside. And, for what it's worth, I really dug
mine too. The country ham on it is more like pork than the name
suggests. Dense slabs of the white meat are piled onto the sandwich
like a deck of cards, and they're layered with a liberal portion of
raw, red onions. The onions turn sweet against the savory saltiness of
the "ham," while a slick of mayo-based mustard sauce provides both the
lubricant and a tangy counterpoint. The best bit, though, is the bread,
which, according to Miche, is the real key to an authentic butifarra.
It's got to have a firm crust but a light and airy dough that cedes
with ease to the passage of teeth. Bravo's bread followed that formula
to a T.
I didn't stop at the butifarra, though. A lomo saltado sandwich
makes portable the traditional Peruvian dish of sliced steak sauteed
with thick wedges of onion and tomato. I watched the shop's cook saute
the filling for the sandwich right to order, adding in that soy-based
sauce that makes lomo saltado so rich and brown and sparking up a big
plume of flame as he tossed it around the pan. On the sandwich, it was
awesome -- the only thing missing was the typical French fries that are
tossed in the saute to soak up that delicious, dark sauce.
A plate of pork tamales came with two freshly steamed corn husks
housing masa cakes filled with big chunks of shredded pork. One of our
Jewish coworkers had ordered it because she felt a sandwich was bad
form around Passover. She must've loved the criolo-covered pork,
because she downed it with gusto. Hey; food is its own religion
Bravo also does a mean-looking ceviche, dressed authentically with red onions, cilantro, lime, and slivers of aji amarillo
and saddled alongside boiled Peruvian corn, crunchy corn kernels, and a
wedge of sweet potato. I wanted to give the papa a la Huacaina a go,
but I was too full for the thick and spicy, cheese sauce-covered spuds.
If I weren't, though, the prices wouldn't have been an issue: All the apps ran
under $5, save the $9 ceviche and a $6 plate of skewered beef
anticuchos. Sandwiches follow suit, all falling at or under $7.50.
There are desserts and drinks -- fruit juices and shakes made of papaya, mango, and lucuma,
a Peruvian favorite -- and, of course, they have cans of Inca Kola at
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the ready in the cooler. For a sandwich shop, Bravo stays pretty true
to its roots. Even before Miche told me his sandwich was the real
deal, I had sort of sniffed it out. There were alfajores on the counter, after all. Those dry, crumbly Peruvian cookies filled with dulce de leche are a tell-tale sign that a joint knows what's up.
Bravo Gourmet Sandwich Shop
2925 NE 6th Ave., Wilton Manors