The history of the chivito – Uruguay’s gigantic steak sandwich
The chivito is a huge steak sandwich layered with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, olives, eggs and mayo. Curiously chivito translates as baby goat, though no goats are harmed in their preparation. Find out more.
Why is a beef sandwich named after a goat?
Uruguay’s most famous sandwich, the Chivito, was created in 1944. Antonio Carbonaro ran a bar on the peninsula of top summer resort Punta del Este on the corner of Calles 31 and 32. One day a customer from the mountains of Argentina was on her way back home and wanted to order something quick. So she asked for baby goat (chivito).
The kitchen was closed but Antonio was eager to please. He buttered a bread roll and made a sandwich with a slice of ham on a quarter-pound slice of steak. The lady loved it and he baptised the sandwich a chivito.
Carbonaro went on to sell a thousand chivitos a day. Over time more ingredients were added including cheese, tomato, lettuce, ham, bacon, egg and olives, making the chivito which you’ll inevitably find in any Uruguayan restaurant here and anywhere else in the world.
What does a chivito typically include?
It really depends and most restaurants really push the boat out with enormous sandwiches accompanied by mountains of fries and sometimes potato salad (yes, two potato dishes, I know, weird) that are big enough for two.
The eggs may be hard-boiled or fried. Onions maybe raw or fried. A good chivito will always be on warmed bread.
But the most basic chivito ingredients nowadays are steak, lettuce and tomato in a bread roll.
Alfonso, host at Casa Flor, walks you through his Dad’s chivito recipe.
Variations on the chivito
You can order your chivito ‘al plato’ and it will come without the bread.
A chivito canadiense is a chivito which includes ham (as well as all the other ingredients). Before that blows your mind, know that there is a type of ham here called jamon canadiense. No actual Canadians are involved in the preparation of a chivito as far as I am aware.
Rogues Gallery of Chivitos
The best traditional food in Uruguay between the airport and the beach. Chivito, seafood and salads, all locally sourced — & veggies from their garden.
The Port Market–Disneyland for carnivores–is not to be missed but avoid the tourist traps! At Veronica’s, you’re guaranteed great steak & Uruguayan asado.
One of the best seafood restaurants in Punta del Diablo & open all year round. Family-run, it’s minutes from the ocean & specialises in home-made pastas.
Typical Uruguay food — chivito, tira de asado, pamplona, torta frita, alfajor, dulce de leche… We go through each one, what it is and how you say it.
New La Barra restaurant in a vintage furniture store. Pull up a chair in the kitchen as the chef preps just-caught fish & his home-grown organic veggies.
A traditional street food in Uruguay is the empanada. This is the very best empanada place we’ve found with a mind-blowing 50+ fillings to choose from.