What’s in a Peruvian sandwich? This Tampa food truck has the answer

TAMPA — What can make a actually great Peruvian sandwich?

At Meanchi’s, a Peruvian-influenced foodstuff truck in Tampa, operator Josh Varon looks to have discovered the response.

For him, it is a blend of items. Very first, it’s about custom — providing indigenous ingredients and recipes the focus they deserve. But it’s also about adopting a modern, rapid-relaxed state of mind: having threats and thinking outside the house the box.

His bestselling Chicharron sandwich ($11) would make a very persuasive argument for both equally. Instead of the conventional pork tummy, Varon swaps in roasted, fried pork shoulder and pairs it with thick planks of fried sweet potatoes, a zingy salsa criolla made with crimson wine vinegar-pickled onions and aji amarillo peppers. It’s served on a fluffy white French roll (sourced from the close by bakery at Greek restaurant Psomi) and features a putting mix of textures and flavors: Smoky hunks of pork get a wonderful zap from the vibrant, acidic onions and a crunchy, virtually sugary complete from the sweet potatoes.

It’s a really fantastic sandwich.

Owner and chef Josh Varon, 29, at Meanchi's, his food truck that serves Peruvian-inspired sandwiches.
Operator and chef Josh Varon, 29, at Meanchi’s, his food stuff truck that serves Peruvian-encouraged sandwiches. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

Varon, 29, is hoping that sandwich and many others on his menu will help set speedy-everyday Peruvian on the map for Tampa diners. So significantly, it seems to be performing.

In Peru, chicharron sandwiches are commonly eaten for breakfast — one thing you’d choose up on your way to the business. Below, it is the lunchtime crowds that start off lining up for it outdoors Varon’s truck, which recently relocated to the parking good deal outside the house Workspace, a co-operating place in North Hyde Park.

Within the truck, Varon swivels back and forth in between the purchase window and the compact kitchen area house, in which he lays out the ingredients for a shorter listing of sandwiches and a few other dishes. (There are also quinoa salads, stir-fries and rice bowls.)

Meanchi's arroz con pollo.
Meanchi’s arroz con pollo. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

The son of Peruvian immigrants, Varon was born and lifted in South Tampa and spent his summers traveling to extended household in Lima, Peru. It was during people visits that he fell in love with the region and its multifaceted cuisine wealthy with influence from international locations all around the globe.

“My really like for Peru, it’s a enjoy for Peruvian meals,” Varon stated. “It’s Chinese, it’s Japanese, it is indigenous, it’s Spanish — it is really diverse and which is what I have normally found so interesting.”

The country has garnered plenty of accolades in excess of the yrs for its culinary treasures, from the extraordinary bounty of indigenous ingredients (which includes 4,000 distinctive varieties of potatoes) to the outstanding roster of renowned good-dining eating places, which have captivated a jet-location foodie group.

But in Tampa, there are just a several places to eat that specialize in the delicacies, and Varon saw an option for development.

A sandwich inspired by the traditional Peruvian dish lomo saltado.
A sandwich impressed by the standard Peruvian dish lomo saltado. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

At 1st, he wanted to aim on ceviche, but the principle of get-and-go uncooked fish did not genuinely lend by itself to a food stuff truck. Sandwiches, on the other hand, had been mobile and speedy-informal. It felt like the finest doable canvas to showcase some of Peru’s culinary traditions though still attracting a huge viewers.

Varon’s menu highlights some of the country’s most cherished ingredients, such as the aji amarillo pepper, a shiny and fruity member of the capsicum spouse and children packing a delicate and delicate heat. And however the menu leans extra present-day than regular, the inspiration arrives from some of the country’s most beloved dishes.

The Carmencita ($11) — named soon after his mother, Carmen — is a participate in on Peruvian comfort and ease food staple aji de gallina and features shredded chicken tossed in a thick and flavorful aji amarillo sauce paired with crunchy fried onions and cilantro. And lomo saltado, a Chinese Peruvian contribution, finds its way to a innovative mashup referred to as the Meanchi’s Way ($13). Customarily, the dish functions a medley of sirloin steak, onions and tomatoes wok-fried with soy sauce and french fries. Varon’s get trades in braised chuck tender for the sirloin and partners it with aji amarillo peppers, crimson onions, tomatoes and fries.

The Carmencita sandwich features shredded chicken in an aji amarillo sauce with crispy-fried onions and cilantro.
The Carmencita sandwich features shredded hen in an aji amarillo sauce with crispy-fried onions and cilantro. [ HELEN FREUND | Tampa Bay Times ]

Then, there is the Peruban ($11), Varon’s favored, a Peruvian-encouraged spin on the traditional Tampa Cuban served on La Segunda Central Bakery bread. It’s built with fried sweet potatoes, sliced ham, braised and shredded pork shoulder and an aji amarillo aioli.

Varon doesn’t approach on remaining with sandwiches forever. At some point, he wants to provide rapid-relaxed Peruvian food stuff to diners on a substantially larger sized scale. (For now, he’s calling it “the Tijuana Flats of Florida for Peruvian food stuff.”)

“My intention is to push Peruvian meals forward and get far more individuals educated about it,” he reported. “Anything to get folks to attempt Peruvian food stuff, in basic.”

At some position, Varon claimed, he’d like to venture into great dining. But for now, he’s material bringing the flavors of Peru to Tampa diners from the confines of his truck, sandwich by sandwich.

If you go

In which: 1529 W North A St., Tampa. 813-665-5801. meanchis.com.

Hrs: Lunch, early evening meal, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday

Costs: Sandwiches, $9 to $13 bowls, $12

Really do not skip: Meanchi’s Way, the Carmencita

Information: Credit history playing cards and funds accepted. Some gluten-no cost options.

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