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Friday, August 1, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 64.0° F  Light Rain
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FOOD AND DRINK

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Chimmies sandwiches all taste good
What's not to like?
on
The Chimmie Chimmie: Mayo and chimichurri sauce, yes please. Credit:Ryan Wisniewski

Chimmies, which also bills itself as "Chimmies Awesome Sandwiches," could win a truth-in-advertising award. The sandwiches coming out of this small storefront just off Fish Hatchery Road in Fitchburg are indeed kind of awesome. What's even more encouraging is that it's a homegrown sandwich shop, not a chain, in a market where casual sandwich-centric stops like Radical Rye and Mildred's have disappeared and been replaced with Potbellys and Paneras.

But Chimmies sets itself apart with its South American-inflected subs and hotpress sandwiches, based on the Argentinian lomito. An amped steak sandwich, the lomito tends to be a more-is-more affair, able to incorporate myriad ingredients along with sliced, tenderized beef -- i.e., tomato, lettuce, peppers, mayonnaise, ham, cheese and a fried egg. Finally, the essential condiment is the classic Argentinian sauce chimichurri, which gives Chimmies its name. The sauce -- olive oil flavored with garlic and lots of chopped fresh parsley -- often also contains vinegar, cilantro and spices, but here it is a simple affair centered on its cornerstone elements.

The menu is variations on the lomito, here called the Chimmie Chimmie. It also comes Mexican (with chipotle sauce and bacon), Italian (breaded chicken breast and ham), chicken (grilled chicken breast and ham) and vegetarian (grilled bell peppers).

In addition to these subs, there are four varieties of hotpress sandwiches -- roast beef, turkey, ham or tofu. The hotpresses omit the fried egg and add fresh spinach, and sometimes a little something special (like cream cheese or chipotle sauce). They arrive pressed impressively flat, like a geometric example of a plane. This flatness allows for unusually uniform toastedness (they're not grilled per se, so the bun's not greasy).

So we have mayo, cheese, chimichurri and sometimes a fried egg contributing melty, saucy goodness that melds with the tomato and the bun for an overall flavor onslaught that is hard not to love. Beef, ham, chicken, tofu -- the protein is almost beside the point.

I liked the Chimmie Chimmie fine, and the Chimmie Italy -- while tasting Italian not in the least -- is a great sandwich too. The chicken is schnitzel-thin and tender. And the hotpress tofu could vie for best vegetarian sandwich in town.

Subs come with a choice of side salad or fries. The salad, just iceberg lettuce topped with the chimichurri sauce, is skippable. Fries are a serviceable McDonald's style. Hotpress sandwiches come with a dill pickle, frankly a better idea -- even if it's not ringingly South American.

Chimmies' empanadas are small, tasty and crisp, but salty -- and at $2.50 maybe not the wisest use of your food dollar. A table might consider upgrading to the side of papas fritas for $3.50 (it should serve three to four). Papas fritas are the regular fries served with egg and cheese on top -- if the concept seems odd, think of the potato-egg-and-cheese threesomes that breakfasts often create. The papas fritas are good, but could improve with upgraded fries.

But if Chimmies has a flaw, it's that most of its sandwiches taste pretty much the same. But when they taste this good, maybe that's okay.

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