What on earth is a bocadillo? It sounds like an exotic animal, perhaps an endangered aardvark from the Amazon rainforest, or is it a musical instrument from Spain not unalike a banjo? Neither is correct, of course, but the Hispanic reference is on the money. It is in fact a sandwich, but not quite as you know it. The team at Encasa Deli intend to make this lack of knowledge a thing of the past and the bocadillo part of Sydney’s everyday.
Essentially a bocadillo is a half-baguette filled with fresh, simple ingredients. However, to restrict it to something so seemingly mundane is to do it a discredit. Take for instance the grand daddy of Encasa Deli’s bocadillos - the pepito - a layered explosion of flavour comprising freshly cooked eye fillet medallions, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato and drizzled with a delicious aioli that manages to bind all the flavours together in a way that just works. This isn’t going to appear in a Weight Watchers magazine anytime soon - it’s rich and could feed two - but with such spectacular flavours, who’s counting calories?
There’s more to the menu that just the bocadillo. I almost soiled myself in excitement when I saw guanabana juice for sale. Guanabana con leche (soursop juice with milk) was my breakfast of choice while in Colombia and a wave of nostalgia swept me into buying one. The taste can be described as a combination of berries, banana and sour citrus that is creamy and utterly moreish. It’s an acquired taste and needs to be fresh, which was perhaps a let down with my juice as you could tell the guanabana had been refrigerated. However, the flashback to South America remained intact.
While it bills itself as Spanish, it’s perhaps better described as Hispanic with excellent Colombian coffee, exotic Latin American fruit juices like guanabana and lulo, and bocadillos featuring South American sausage, Argentinian chimichurri and Portuguese chicken. The service is true to its Spanish roots with lovely warm hosts if not sometimes forgetful.
The fried calamari and chorizo bocadillos remain my favourites and I’m yet to find a bocadillo that I don’t like. It’s worth keeping an eye on the specials board as there is often an unexpected gem. The bocadillos are big and filling and you certainly couldn’t eat one to yourself everyday as you’d be the size of a house yet it’s definitely something you’ll consider after tasting your first. The deli attached to the cafe serves a wonderful array of small goods and other odds and ends, and no doubt you’ll end up leaving with a few slices of jamón ibérico and queso. Most of all, you’ll leave with a full belly and a yearning to come back to try something different.
135 Bathurst Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9283 4277