Restaurant Review: Choripan Argentine Grill
Choripan Argentine Grill had a quiet opening on the northwest side. As its name suggests, Argentinian fare is on the menu, and it’s not just Argentinian: Choripan is a health-conscious establishment, too. It serves from a menu that is all gluten-free.
Gluten-free Argentinian is quite a distinctive combo. It might be easy for a restaurant to be gluten-free if it served only salads or kebabs, or even rice-based dishes. But Choripan devotes big sections of its menu to sandwiches and empanadas. Wheat flour (a primary gluten source) is typically a required ingredient for both sandwich bread and empanada pastry. But not at Choripan.
The welcoming proprietor-host at the smallish cafe divulges that tapioca flour is his reliable go-to, and he bakes his own bread. His recipe makes a light, airy bun for the house Choripan sandwich ($9.99), which features house-made chorizo. It probably shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that someplace that bakes its own bread also makes its own sausage. You can tell the quality from the first bite. It’s more than a fatty slab; it’s savory sustenance. In the sandwich, the sausage is teamed with a chimichurri sauce that takes a backseat along with with lettuce, onions and tomato.
The Suprema ($9.99) is a sandwich that holds a chicken breast that’s been breaded in a magical gluten-free shell too. The crackling coating makes for a nice, golden sweater around a flattened piece of poultry. The shell doesn’t seem quite as crispy-crunchy as a conventional coating, but the chicken inside has a natural, juicy quality. The sandwich is amped up with a chipotle sauce that tastes something like a fiery, vengeful cocktail sauce. It’s okay, but nowhere as nice as the house Choripan sandwich.
The empanada scene has earned lots of raves from guests. There’s a reason for that. While the gluten-free pockets are maybe more tender but less flakey than conventional versions, they retain all the fried goodness expected from a classic empanada. The thing that carries them over-the-top for anybody – not just the gluten-free crowd – is the fillings. Quality-wise, the empanada guts are just generally top-notch at Choripan, in a thoughtful, generous fashion.
So consider the Carne Empanada ($3.49). Inside the nicely-sized, fresh-fried shell, is a mix of coarse ground meat. It’s not that mealy, long-stewing, indiscernible stuff you might have elsewhere: it’s beefy beef, seasoned with oregano, paprika and garlic, and accented with bits of soft onion and potato.
The Chorizo version ($3.49) delivered more of the aforementioned lean housemade sausage, this time teamed with soft sweet potatoes, scallions and garlic.
A Tuna Empanada ($3.49) was ordered, just out of curiosity. It sounds… well, awful. The fact that it was actually terrific was such a shock that it is now the official favorite empanada. The menu description mentioned peppers and hard boiled egg in the mix, so the expectation was for some sort of mayo-heavy tuna salad mess. In fact, the empanada was packed with dense, flaky tuna laden with chunks of egg and veggies. It comes across as surprisingly likable.
Bone Broth ($5.99) makes an appearance on the menu, along with kombucha and yerba mate tea. The broth has been trending in the health-oriented community. According to the internet, it’s supposed to do a lot of things for you, possibly to reduce inflammation. A cup is nice, warm. It tastes like a natural beef broth, not too salty, not too strong. It hits a comforting note.
You’ll find Choripan Argentine Grill at 5927 Karric Square Dr. in Dublin. For more information, visit choripan.co.
All photos by Susan Post