Takeout dining review: Dietary-friendly Choripan Argentine Grill doesn't restrict flavor
Certain facts and observations are worth noting right off the bat: Choripan Argentine Grill is a hidden gem that offers delicious, affordable and widely accessible dishes (save for one mind-boggling item I‘ll get to later) cooked from scratch in an unassuming little space in a Dublin strip mall.
Sorry for that abrupt information dump. But I didn’t want to pigeonhole Choripan as a niche eatery by introducing it as a South American-leaning place whose fare has been designed for diners with dietary restrictions.
Because if, like me, your only dietary restriction is “No poison, please,” you’re likely to become an instant fan of Choripan’s easy-to-love food, too. If you’re concerned about particular diet-linked maladies, you’ll probably appreciate the place all the more.
Some pertinent details: Choripan is a gluten-free operation whose menu advertises that “all our food is consciously created to be keto, paleo, and primal friendly.”
Its food also seems consciously created for lovers of grilled meats, crowd-pleasing sides and savory pastries. Bonus: The takeout-only restaurant (at least currently) is about a three-minute drive from a scenic al fresco dining spot in Llewellyn Farms Park.
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Empanadas — those aforementioned pastries — are mainstays of Argentine cuisine and duly featured on Choripan’s well-organized menu. Fashioned with grain-free tapioca flour (a rarity for a Columbus restaurant), Choripan’s standout empanadas ($4 each) are hefty and attractive fried pockets with appealingly crisp-yet-chewy textures and six different but uncommonly strong fillings. One makes a great snack; two would be a light meal.
You can’t go wrong with any of them, including: the Pollo (stew-like chicken chunks with bits of crinkly skin, onions, peppers and tomatoes); Carne (seasoned ground beef and diced potatoes related to zesty, Texas-style chili and, especially, Cuban picadillo); Espinaca (wonderfully tangy spinach bolstered by molten cheese); and Chorizo (terrific house-made, bratwurst-style sausage flavored with wine and garlic).
Two enormous links of that juicy and addictive sausage arrived skillfully seared in the Chorizo al Plato ($15 with a side). As good as that entree was, I’d be remiss not to also steer you toward one of the better inexpensive local steak dinners: the Lomito al Plato ($15 with a side) — an Argentine staple of grill-crusted, lean-but-flavorful beef served with a vibrant chimichurri sauce.
Side dish choices for “al Plato” entrees are sizable, far from afterthoughts and $3 as a la carte items. These include: Batatas Frtitas — excellent sweet potato chips that were crisp, lacy and amusingly shaped like nets; Papas Fritas — hand-cut, mostly crisp, substantial french fries served with house ketchup; Ensalada de Col — mayo-free and refreshing sweet-and-sour coleslaw decorated with poppy seeds; and a cut-above green salad. Although not really sides, the Salsa Criollo (like pico de gallo) and Palta (think deconstructed guacamole) definitely warrant an extra $2.
Choripan also makes interesting biscuit-like rolls. This gluten-free bread shows up in the eatery's worthwhile sandwiches, such as the chorizo-loaded Argentine classic the place is named for (Choripan, $16), the Pechuga (flawlessly grilled chicken breast, $12), and a BLT ($12) assembled with a modicum of house mayo (I wanted more) and plenty of thick and impressive house bacon cured in kombucha.
Fried pie aficionados would be wise to order the recommended Pastelitos ($6): A mammoth, wonton-like wrapper with a delightful mixed berry filling in its middle.
Now, for that mind-blowing item. It was the face-torching Habanero Wings ($6), aka the hottest thing I’ve eaten this year. I strongly suspect my batch was a capsaicin outlier because the wing sauce was so incendiary that I instantly launched into a hiccup-accompanied, spasmodic dance while I experienced what could only be called a psychoactive reaction. Although this was a wild sensation and (I’m told) quite a sight, next time, I’ll just order more pastelitos.
Choripan Argentine Grill
5927 Karric Square Dr., Dublin