Forget all your preconceived notions about bread reigning supreme as king of the sandwich -- plantains can miraculously succeed in replacing the conventional sandwich binder. That’s the case at Patacon Pisao, a Lower East Side shop whose name translates to “flattened plantain.”
Owner Liliana Velazquez started her business out of a food truck in 2005 in Inwood before opening a brick-and-mortar location in Elmhurst in 2010, followed by a second location Downtown in 2014. The restaurant’s top seller is the patacón, a traditional fried plantain sandwich that originated in Maracaibo, Venezuela.
To make the patacón (which is on its own vegan and gluten free), unripe plantains are fried, smashed, and then fried again. Removed from the pan, the once-hockey puck-sized disks start to resemble a thin tortilla: browned, blackened, and crusty. One portion of the disk is topped with a selection of meats, like shredded roast pork, spicy shredded beef, or thick bacon, and then finished off with fried cheese and fresh vegetables.
“Just like a snowflake, it has a different edge, has a different crust, has a different angle,” Velazquez’ son, Jonathan Hernandez, says of the sandwiches. “That’s what makes [them] very unique.”
Patacon Pisao’s other most popular item is the cachapa, a Venezuelan sweet corn crepe sandwich: Corn kernels peek out from the soft, pancake-like shell, which, when folded over melted queso blanco and smoky bacon, is large enough to feed two.
To find out more about why you’ll be ditching sandwich bread forever, check out the video above.