North Americans are generally quite partial to the occasional hamburger, but if you’re traveling in Chile or Argentina we’d recommend you skip the substandard hamburguesas and opt for an iconic lomito sandwich instead. In Spanish, the diminutive suffix ‘-ito’ means ‘small’, but never has it been used more ironically…
Chilean and Argentine lomitos share almost as many differences as they do similarities, but let’s start with what they have in common. They’re both enormous steak sandwiches on fresh white buns with copious fixings and condiments. They’re both so big that one sandwich could easily feed a family…but locals wolf them down in between meals.
Now for the differences…Chilean lomitos are made from slow roasted pork tenderloin bathed in gravy, and topped with avocado, fresh tomato, oodles of mayonnaise and a scattering of sauerkraut. This last ingredient gives a hint as to el lomito’s origins: the sandwich was pioneered by the German immigrants who owned (and still own) the Fuente Alemana restaurant in Santiago, but now it as close to a national staple as you’ll get in this long and diverse country.
Argentine lomitos feature beef steak as their hero (this is Argentina, after all, where the cow is king) and instead of being slow-roasted it is flash grilled a la plancha. And then there are the toppings: tomato, lettuce, onion, chimichurri, mayonnaise, fried egg, ham and melted cheese. Now that’s a mouthful. The best place to get a lomito in Buenos Aires is from the carts on the Costanera Sur – just ask any local where this is, or follow your nose. Here’s a typically grimy video of an Argy lomito in the making.