There’s this style of ‘steakhouse’ that I really like; South American countries have a firm grasp of how to take a skirt steak and turn it into amazing deliciousness. Marinate it and slather it in chimichurri… In any case, I’ve been going to Mi Tio to satisfy this urge for a very long time – I would say over 15 years – but the quality has continued to decline while prices continue to rise. This means I’ve been curious about finding a new place to scratch the itch for me, so when my friend John suggested Chivito de Oro, I grabbed my BFF and we drove over to the Jackson Heights establishment. We found parking in a snap directly across the street, too.
We also arrived at just the right time; a huge table of over 10-12 people were leaving, so though there was a brief wait, it was just for the wait staff to clean off and reset the tables. We were seated within 10 minutes; when we were leaving later there was a pretty long wait it seemed. While we browsed the menu, our server brought over extra toasty bread that we slathered cold butter on and ate happily. This is the same bread as at Mi Tio; maybe they all make their own bread, or it’s provided by the same bakery? Either way, it’s delicious: thin exterior, fluffy and soft interior that takes heat well.
While we were waiting, we ogled the grill area which is to the right of where you stand in line waiting to talk to the hostess. There were also trays upon trays of various goods – either ready to eat salad type items, or empanadas and croquettes to be heated before being eaten. I saw this mushroom salad type thing in the case, but not on the menu, so I asked if we could order that as a starter and our server seemed surprised like “Yeah, of course you can!” – and when it came, I was surprised by how big it was. It turned out to cost, I believe, about $7; it was garlicky, sour/vinegary, and very oniony. As BFF isn’t a huge pickle fan (and wanted to not have garlic/onion breath), I wound up eating most of this and I loved it. Marinated mushrooms is something of a delight of mine; I’m constantly sampling them out, trying to recreate them at home and have thusfar failed to replicate or even come close to replicating the ones I’ve had that I like the most. These were delicious (and a lot of it came home with me) – and perfect to top a sandwich or a salad with. Ridiculously good.
We also split a croquette and a chicken empanada. The chicken empanada was cooked super crisp on the outside (it looked baked, not fried), but the inside was too dry for me and I didn’t care for it. It was seasoned nicely however. The croquette – be warned, it’s not vegetarian. I thought it was tasty enough, and fried well, but BFF and I agreed that while it was tasty, it wasn’t special or so great that either of us would order it again.
Our main course came with a side – we chose fries, which were fried expertly and really quite lovely. Possibly not made from scratch, but still good, and a great foil to our main – that we shared…
We decided to share the complete skirt steak, which cost $23.50 (the half is $19). Please note that if you look carefully in the above photo, you will see that there are two steaks there, each considered a “half”. They are both longer than the plate and folded underneath themselves in order to fit.
Blurry photo (don’t mind the green; that’s actually the reflection of one of their neon signs) of the steak being cooked exactly to medium rare, as we’d requested. This cut of steak is better suited to a little more cooking, so medium should have been ordered, but I always forget to order anything over medium rare. In any case, this steak was glorious; it not just scratched the South American steak itch, it obliterated it. I was thoroughly satisfied after my visit; the meat was tender, cooked exactly to where I’d requested, and salty, rich, perfect. Though I failed to photograph it, the chimichurri was luxuriously garlicky and brilliant, with that acidic background that balances all the richness of your meat and cuts through the fat to elevate it to exactly where I want it.
I want it now.
Neither BFF nor I – not light eaters by any means – finished our steaks, so we took them to go. Our server was super nice and friendly, packing up our leftovers (steaks, mushroom salad, maybe fries… I don’t recall) neatly for transport. When I asked for chimichurri to be packed with it, she happily obliged. I think our entire meal was less than $40 before tip – it was something ridiculously cheap, considering all that we’d eaten.
I think I’ve found my Mi Tio replacement. Mi Tio will always hold fond memories in my heart, for all the years I went there and all the great memories created there, but Chivito de Oro fully satisfies this craving for much less money… and that’s important, too.
It’s near a subway station, too, so you should definitely check it out if you can.