Chicago-area restaurants showcase unique versions of the ‘pambazo’ – NBC Chicago
There are all kinds of sandwiches, but there’s one in particular from Mexico that caught the eye of NBC 5’s Food Guy Steve Dolinsky.
This sandwich is called a Pambazo, and while it can be messy, local chefs interpret the classic street snack in many ways.
The sandwich was born out of poverty and necessity in Mexico, with cooks baking stale bread, dipping it in mashed chili peppers, then filling it with familiar ingredients like chorizo, potatoes and cheese.
Even with this baseline, not all Chicago chefs take the same approach.
Bertha Montes Garcia spends most of the day turning blue corn dough, stuffed with beans, into torpedo-shaped Tlayudas, which are open sandwiches.
The other item she is known in Xocome Antojeriathe restaurant that occupies the corner of a winking mall and you’ll miss it just north of Midway Airport, is the Pambazo.
“It’s definitely a messy thing, a two-handed affair,” Garcia’s son David Rodriguez said. “And if you want to pick it up, you can’t put it down. So you must use a knife and fork if you plan to take a break. It’s basically submerged in a red guajillo sauce and then pan-fried.
In a traditional pambazo, a filling of chorizo, sausage, and potatoes is grilled on a flat top, then added to guajillo-soaked bread. They are then garnished with shredded lettuce, cream and queso fresco.
“It has to have a little spice, more smoke than anything I would say,” Rodriguez said.
At Con Todo in Logan Squaretorta talera rolls are submerged in mashed guajillo peppers and fried, but this new restaurant straddles the line of authenticity and reinvention.
“(We) blend what is Chicago and the Mexican-American experience with the experience they had in Mexico City,” chef Jonathan Zaragoza said.
There are also examples of simple Mexican dishes on their menu, like their Baja-inspired taco.
“So the taco part of the menu is very Mexican,” he said.
But as for the Pambazo, rather than a chorizo and potato filling, it’s a double cheeseburger, and therefore a “pamburguesa”. After the bread has been soaked and fried, it is topped with a unique variety of ingredients.
“Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup-based salsa and pickled jalapeño, bread and buttered pickles,” Zaragoza said.
Next, two patties are finely crushed and topped with onions and American cheese.
The traditional filling of a pambazo, potatoes and chorizo, is referenced with the fries.
“And that’s the inspiration behind the fries that are served with it, it’s chorizo and potato. We do a chorizo spice,” Zaragoza said. “People seem to like it, which is great. It’s very emblematic of the experience we’re trying to give people here.