Monday, April 19, 2010

Patacon Pisao #2: The Real Double Down

As one of many people who scour food blogs daily (read: hourly), for months I've had to listen to the ceaseless hype over KFC's new Double Down. I hope I'm not alone in detesting everything about this sandwich. The hype culminated (or scraped bottom), with Eater posting "paparazzi" photos of New York Times dining critic Sam Sifton, chomping down on a Double Down while Feast simultaneously declared it "The Day Everyone Didn't Shut the Fuck Up About Double Downs" (Incidentally, is anyone else turned off by "The Day We..."? It feels like they're speaking with an authority they don't have). I felt dirty, Sifton must have felt dirty (and greasy), and I hope everyone viewing that picture was ashamed of themselves.

This is the face of infinite sadness. Courtesy (unfortunately) of

Is this what we've come to? The same hype-cycle occurred for the Pizzacone, an equally horrifying creation that is exactly what it sounds. For some reason, normally locavore-organic-seasonal-foodie types bend over backward to hype what is essentially two pieces of fried chicken with some bacon stuck in between from a fast-food restaurant perpetuating, not just bad stereotypes about Americans, but mass-produces chickens in toxic factory farms that pollute the environment. Can someone please reconcile this for me?

This is all just to say that the echo chamber of hype inspired me to think about other meals sandwiched between unorthodox foodstuffs. While I'm proud to say that I've made bacon-fried kugel sandwiches at home, I was craving something different. Then I remembered the patacon, a Venezuelan specialty recently popularized by Dave Cook of Eating in Translation. The patacon (pronounced pata-cone), is a sandwich with thin, fried plantains subbing for bread. It's stuffed with all kinds of meats, cheese, lettuce and sauce. I'd been wanting to try it for awhile now, but it was my hatred for the Double Down that motivated me to invite the DAsian on an excursion to Elmhurst.

After a 20 minute subway ride on the V, we were deposited at Grand and Queens Boulevard. A short walk later, and we were inside Patacon Pisao #2 (it's called #2, because the original is a night-time truck in Inwood, and apparently there's a #3 on the way as well).

The interior is small but cozy, and you can see the ladies in the back stuffing empanadas, braising meats and rolling out doughs. The guy at the front counter was extremely helpful and cool. I feel bad for not getting his name, so I will call him "The Recommender." He realized immediately that we were patacon virgins and helped guide us through the menu. We knew we were in good hands when The Recommender told us to get the "full" ($6), which included: chicken, shredded beef, roasted pork, cheese, tomato and salsa. Anyone who hadn't insisted we order the full in that situation would most likely have been ignored for the rest of the meal, but The Recommender was on point.

The first thing I noticed was the extraordinary crispiness of the plantain. Crunchy, with a mild plantain flavor, the "bread" balanced out everything else on the sandwich nicely. The chicken's texture was noticed, but it may have been overpowered by the beef and pork, which were strongly flavored, yet not dried out at all. The salsa added much needed lubrication, and I added some of the house-made red salsa for some more heat.

It's all about the layers.
I also wanted to try a cachapa, which is a sweet corn cake with various fillings. My eyes widened at the cachapa pictured on the menu and on the wall. It looked as if it had a scoop of ice cream dumped on top.

I really knew we were in good hands when The Recommender suggested the cheese cachapa ($6.50), which was the one I'd been drooling over. The cachapa was outstanding, and I think I liked it even better than the patacon. I was completely stuffed after a few bites (I had polished off the patacon first), but I couldn't stop eating it. It was topped with a fresh crema, which had a nice bite, and some ground cheese. The cachapa was also filled with mozzarella rather than queso and some more of the crema. The Recommender told us that they couldn't find a queso supplier that was up to their standard, so they use a locally made mozzarella instead. File this under great idea, the mozzarella tasted extremely fresh and stubbornly refused to tear, which is always a good sign. Hit this with some more of the red salsa and you're pretty much set.

I was pretty sure The Recommender made us for bloggers (I feel dopey even writing that) as I watched the DAsian snap pictures of everything in the restaurant. I like to eat anonymously, but The Recommender had been so chill the whole meal that there was no way I could turn down his offer of a complimentary flan for dessert.

Creamy, delicious, and made in house. Got any problems with that?
While I usually like to conclude a post by circling back to my original theme and somehow linking it with my meal, I am truly tired of discussing the KFC Double Down. Instead, all I will say is this: up yours KFC, Patacon Pisao is the real OG Double Down, so take your hype somewhere else.

Patacon Pisao #2
85-22 Grand Ave
Elmhurst, NY 11373 

See the rest of our photos here.
Patacon Pisao #2 on Urbanspoon


  1. damm right patacon is better then two chickens with one piece of bacon in the middle

  2. que rico es el patacon pisao!!! me encanta! aca en Colombia hacen unos deliciosos!!!!