A Sandwich a Day: A Happy 'Banana Burger' Misdirect at Altas Horas, Newark, NJ
In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
Editor's note: For the next few weeks, we'll be chiming in with snapshots of our recent road trip to the Portuguese and Brazilian Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey, thanks to a loaner ride in a Buick Verano. Our destinations, and these articles, come purely from Serious Eats editorial.
As we've seen before, the Brazilian take on a burger isn't just cooked ground beef on a bun. Mayo makes frequent appearances. Corn, too. Fried potatoes perhaps. And, so our research into famed hamburgao spot Altas Horas led us to believe, bananas as well.
That's what we thought when we ordered a Banana Burger ($5.50) at the small counter at this cafe off Ferry street, the heart of Newark's Brazilian and Portuguese enclave known as the Ironbound.
Obviously what you see above isn't a burger, nor does it have any bananas stuck in with all that mayo. We're blaming ourselves for not overcoming a language barrier (fluent English was hard to come by on our visit), but I'll call this a happy accident. Because this grilled chicken, lettuce, tomato, and mayo sandwich dressed with corn kernels and fried potato sticks may be even better than the burger we were after. That chicken's mighty tender and juicy, and it's dressed with enough mayo to be considered grilled chicken salad. Lettuce, tomato, and mayo add pleasant crunch; corn contributes sweetness. And it all comes together on a huge, fluffy bun to make the experience less messy than it'd seem.
I'm not about to say that a fat, juicy burger with all of this wouldn't be fun to eat, but this chicken sandwich has a restrained sense of balance amidst all its excess, and chicken takes better to this loaded treatment than beef. This sandwich answers the question I've asked myself every time I've eaten a Brazilian-style burger: "how can I make this less crazy but still crazy delicious." As a fast food-style beast of a lunch, it's a grilled chicken sandwich I'd return for.
Thanks again to Buick for the ride.