The history of the chivito – Uruguay’s gigantic steak sandwich

This classic Uruguayan sandwich is soooo good. What's in a chivito, why does its name refer to a goat when it's beef, and WTF is a chivito 'canadiense'?
By Karen A Higgs
Rachel Rocco - Chivito
Last updated on November 20, 2019

The chivito is a huge steak sandwich layered with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, olives, eggs and mayo. Curiously chivito translates as baby goat, though no goats are harmed in their preparation. Find out more.

Why is a beef sandwich named after a goat?

Uruguay’s most famous sandwich, the Chivito, was created in 1944. Antonio Carbonaro ran a bar on the peninsula of top summer resort Punta del Este on the corner of Calles 31 and 32. One day a customer from the mountains of Argentina was on her way back home and wanted to order something quick. So she asked for baby goat (chivito).

The kitchen was closed but Antonio was eager to please. He buttered a bread roll and made a sandwich with a slice of ham on a quarter-pound slice of steak. The lady loved it and he baptised the sandwich a chivito.

Carbonaro went on to sell a thousand chivitos a day.  Over time more ingredients were added including cheese, tomato, lettuce, ham, bacon, egg and olives, making the chivito which you’ll inevitably find in any Uruguayan restaurant here and anywhere else  in the world.

What does a chivito typically include?

It really depends and most restaurants really push the boat out with enormous sandwiches accompanied by mountains of fries and sometimes potato salad (yes, two potato dishes, I know, weird) that are big enough for two.

The eggs may be hard-boiled or fried. Onions maybe raw or fried. A good chivito will always be on warmed bread.

But the most basic chivito ingredients nowadays are steak, lettuce and tomato in a bread roll.

Alfonso, host at Casa Flor, walks you through his Dad’s chivito recipe.

Variations on the chivito

You can order your chivito ‘al plato’ and it will come without the bread. A chivito canadiense is a chivito which includes ham (as well as all the other ingredients). Before that blows your mind, know that there is a type of ham here called jamon canadiense. No actual Canadians are involved in the preparation of a chivito as far as I am aware.
Chivito sin pretensiones
The Vacation Rental Show's Matt Landau deals with a chivito at Sin Pretensiones

Rogues Gallery of Chivitos




One Response

  1. This looks delicioso! I am traveling to uruguay tomorrow afternoon for a little day trip and I can’t wait to try this out! The historia of the chivito is quite interesting and I will definitely be quizzing the little niños in the car haha. Very interesting article and I am excited to try this comida out. This got me amped for some chivito! See you there!

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