The art of eating is best experienced with others, at least, that’s my philosophy. This week, my friend and I share a meal with Kirk Cartozian, one of the owners of Gaucho Grill Argentine Steakhouse located at Downey Promenade. The original Gaucho Grills are long gone, however, Kirk and his business partner, Adrian Amosa, have re-imagined the brand, giving it a modern, inviting twist, with updated menus that rival traditional steakhouses.
I am not terribly familiar with Argentinian cuisine, so I welcome Kirk’s input, and guidance throughout the meal.
While perusing the menu, some bread arrives at the table with chimichurri sauce and a habanero chimichurri. Don’t fill up on that even though it is very tempting.
We start with a selection of the house-made Empanada ($4 each). There are four to choose from: Spinach & Cheese; Chicken & Cheese; Ham and Provolone; and Beef.
They are all delicious, but my favorite is definitely the beef, which is packed with flavor, and oh so juicy! The filling is encased in a flaky crust, which isn’t overly thick, and not at all greasy.
Remolacha ($10) is a beet salad comprising two different types of beets. I love the crunchiness of the almonds, and the red wine vinaigrette lends a gorgeous brightness to this plate.
I absolutely love Prawns & Palms ($13), a ‘salad’ of poached tiger prawns, hearts of palm, avocado, mint, chives, all tossed in a lemon vinaigrette and pistou. As my friend says, “I can eat this for days,” and I’ll have to agree with her.
As much as I want to try more things, we are at an Argentinian steakhouse, so it would be remiss if we didn’t eat some meat. Kirk orders Meat Parrillada ($100), a platter of assorted cuts, including entraña (skirt steak), lamb chops, short rib, tenderloin, Argentine chorizo, and mollejas (grilled sweetbread) all interspersed with shishito peppers, grilled onion and peppers. The meat is cooked to our desired medium rare, but I highly suggest eating the sweetbread as soon as it hits the table as it will continue cooking on the hotplate the longer it sits. My favorites are the entraña, lamb chops and chorizo. In fact, the chorizo is one of the best sausages I’ve eaten in a long time. This is a platter that can easily feed three to four people.
With the meats comes an array of sides. Puree Rustico ($8) is some of the tastiest mashed potatoes I’ve ever had — and I don’t even like mashed potatoes!
I am partial to Humitas Saltena ($8) being a fan of corn. This is how creamed corn should be! It is thicker than regular creamed corn — hence, pudding — and so decadent.
Gaucho Rice ($7) goes perfectly with the proteins. This jasmine rice is seasoned with chimichurri, and dotted with peas and carrots.
Gaucho Veggies ($9) is an array of grilled seasonal vegetables including asparagus, peppers, squash, mushrooms, and potato. I love the char flavor, and would be very happy eating the vegetables alone.
There are several sauces available to pair with your proteins. Besides the chimichurri and habanero chimichurri, there is a pico de gallo-like condiment, as well as a smokey spicy sauce — my favorite! I think the smokey spicy sauce is good on everything, but it is definitely spicy!
If you have room for dessert, might I suggest ending with El Gran Final — a taste of the many desserts available. I try a bite of everything, and have to admit, the flan is pretty amazing!
We had such a great time eating with Kirk, and didn’t realize we had a three-hour lunch! He tells me there are plans for more Gaucho Grills to open soon, and I definitely hope there is one opening closer to me.
Gaucho Grill Argentine Steakhouse
8830 Apollo Way, #100
Downey, CA 90242