Monday, June 15, 2009
One of the more beautiful places to eat in Northern Liberties is the outdoor courtyard of Arbol Cafe. Located across 2nd street from the infamous Standard Tap, Arbol Cafe offers a fusion of American and Paraguayan cuisine in a family and BYOB friendly atmosphere. You place your order and pay at the counter inside where there are few small tables, but you're better off eating outside in The Garden if the weather is nice.
The best way to start at Arbol is with the Traditional Sandwich de Lomito. These sandwiches are appropriate for any time of day, but are especially nice for breakfast or brunch. A soft eggy roll is split open, spread with mayonnaise and filled with thinly sliced steak, turkey ham, romaine lettuce, fresh summer tomato, a hard-fried egg, and port salut cheese. I can also recommend a side of the salt and pepper potatoes. Nothing is fried at Arbol, so you're not going to get crunchy potatoes alongside your sandwich, what you will get is thin rounds of well-seasoned roasted potatoes served with homemade hot ketchup. Delicious.
The combination of salty turkey ham with grilled steak and fresh toppings inside of the airy yet slightly chewy roll all works beautifully. The roll, LeBus Brioche, is just dry enough to soak up the steak and tomato juices, while the mayo and cheese keep it all from sliding off the roll. The only way to improve upon the taste of this sandwich would be to request a slightly runny egg. I'm a big fan of silky egg yolk on a breakfast sandwich even when it ups the messy quotient substantially.
A slight variation on Traditional Sandwich de Lomito is the Cacique Lambare, or "warrior" sandwich. Thinly grilled steak, broken egg, port salut cheese as well as sauteed mushrooms and onions are piled on LeBus Brioche and is another excellent choice. Arbol Cafe's menu has a host of other offerings for brunch, lunch, and dinner including bagels and croissants, omelets, chicken sandwiches, salads and sides.
One of the owners, Beth, is also a gifted baker, which is the quickest way to secure a place in my heart. She bakes decadent chocolate chip cookies in mini muffin pans so they turn out thick, dense and super chewy. I find it hard not to buy one every time I walk by.
209 Poplar Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123