Chivitoteca in North Beach: Try the Monstrous Charrúa Platter

If you frequented the now-defunct El Rey del Chivito, you should know there's a new king in town. Chivitoteca recently took over the North Beach space. It has kept most old menu items, added new ones, and dropped some prices.

The word chivito literally translates to "little goat," but that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about a very special Uruguayan sandwich. The history behind the dish varies, but we'll stick with the story printed on the menu.

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One fateful night in 1946, a woman walked into a restaurant and asked for a goat meat sandwich. It was during a blackout, and the place didn't serve the dish, but they told her they did anyway. The cooks went into the kitchen and assembled a hot sammie of white bread, butter, ham, and a thin slice of steak (they hoped the poor lighting would cover up the beef). She loved it, and a new sandwich was born.

At Chivitoteca, you can order this sandwich, the "1946" ($8.50), with French fries. It's a buttery piece of history.

In Uruguay -- and at Chivitoteca, for that matter -- variations run rampant. Some replace the butter with mayonnaise, as well as add lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon, and eggs.

Chivitoteca also serves a version with a thick cut of steak ($16.90) and a gourmet chivito with beef, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, and arugula ($15.90). You can even get your chivito as a wrap or a plate.

The charrúa ($24.95) plate for two -- with mixed salad, Russian salad, and French fries -- was the most monstrous creation we saw. It's perfect for celebrating the fact that Uruguay recently became the first nation to legalize the marijuana trade. And if that isn't enough of a munchie for you, Chivitoteca also serves pizza by the meter.

For those of you practicing restraint, on a recent visit we also enjoyed the light heart of palm ($4.90) appetizer with golf sauce (ketchup and mayonnaise).

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