Choripan, Argentina’s ubiquitous answer to the New York hot dog, is street food: the kind of dish you’d tend to mow on a dusty curbside while broiling in the sun. Ox restaurant’s new parking lot choripan pop-up is not that, exactly—it’s far too cheffy, farm fresh, and—at $11–14 a sandwich—spendy. (After all, it is run by a pair of James Beard winners.)
Instead, Ox Box, open midday through Labor Day weekend, is an excellent excuse for a long, lazy lunch, perfumed with oak smoke and lubricated with bottles of Peruvian lager. It’s like a highbrow backyard barbecue—with South American spiced sandwiches prepared by pro chefs at a grill 10 feet away from your umbrella-shaded patio table.
The signature choripan is a mild house chorizo sausage, perfectly grilled over oak, slathered in the house’s tame, olive oily chimichurri, and tucked inside a soft roll. Served to-go with one of Ox's Grandma Agnes dill pickle spears and some mustardy potato salad, it’s a great lunchtime treat, but surprisingly, not the best (or even second best) thing on Ox Box’s brief menu.
Instead, top honors belong to the grilled eggplant sandwich, roasted and silky with a hint of char, spiced with chorizo rub and dried oregano and layered with melted provolone and that fresh chimichurri. Staffers attest that it’s already the pop-up’s sleeper hit. You will never grill eggplant this good at home. Never. Props also go to the grilled tuna sandwich, which swaps chorizo for a thick steak of Pacific Northwest albacore. A pair of flaky fried empanadas—one stuffed with a pimento cheese-ish mix of gruyere, fontina, roasted sweet spuds, and poblanos, and the other with juicy spiced beef, sweet with plump raisins and salty olive shards—make most other empanadas look like Hot Pockets.
Ox’s adjacent cocktail operation, Whey Bar, offers a trio of solid cocktails for lunchers, including the fernet- and falernum-laced La Yapa and a restrained pineapple umbrella drink dubbed the Mid Day Mai Tai. A better bet? Just grab a few bottles of that Peruvian Cusqueña lager, which does the best job cutting through those oil-dripping sandwiches.
Everything arrives neatly packed up to-go in brown paper with plastic utensils, salt, pepper, and extra chimichurri. But wolfing it down take-out style would be missing the point. Ox Box, while it lasts, is meant for summertime lingering.