Located on the corner of Pine Avenue and East Broadway in Long Beach, Gaucho Grill showcases a sensational Argentinean menu in a hip and chic atmosphere that guests will surely enjoy. Gaucho Grill’s outside patio is adorned with traditional Argentinean décor and polished steel accents, marrying a sense of modern day swank with rooted Argentinean notes. Inside, the dining room is dressed in deep red with wood panel walls and a stone archway, giving guests a juxtaposition of three different medium textures, while the atmosphere offers subtle sonnets of Argentinean classics played by a live guitarist. Just like its décor, the menu couples a feel of today’s popular flavor combinations with traditional Argentinean herbs and spices, utilizing different proteins as the main attraction. Try the Entrana a la Parrilla, a Certified Angus 10 ounce skirt steak, marinated in fresh herbs and spices, or the Garlic Chicken, grilled boneless chicken with Dijon sauce, mashed potatoes and zucchini. Gaucho Grill also offers an arrangement of vegetarian plates like the Veggie Burger and the Griega Salad with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, olives and feta cheese doused in house dressing. With its visually appealing atmosphere and satiating Argentinean fare, Gaucho Grill in Long Beach is different from the rest and a must try.Read More ...
Downtown Long Beach is a long way from Argentina’s fertile pampas. While the staff at Gaucho Grill doesn’t dress like the rough and rugged South American cowboys from which the restaurant gets its name, the proprietors do a fine job of channeling the spirit of Buenos Aires.
The original L.A. “gaucho”, Adolfo Suaya, sold the brand he had cultivated beginning in the 1990s – as well as the remaining Brentwood location - to fellow Buenos Aires native Adrian Amosa in 2008. The new owner, responsible for a computer brand that distributes equipment throughout Latin America, added a Long Beach location in 2010. Amosa drew from the experience of his wife, who had been a Gaucho Grill employee for 10 years prior to her husband’s first restaurant purchase, and continues to be involved in the company.
The Amosas completely retooled the space on Pine Avenue in Long Beach’s busy epicenter. Outside, an awning protects an inviting patio with stone tile flooring, a wood framed cowhide, and a mirror on the opposite gray stucco wall. Beyond a glass façade resides the interior, complete with wood flooring, brick and stone walls, even more cowhides, and wrought iron chandeliers both round and plank-shaped. The center of the room houses two and four-top tables with wood chairs. The southern wall features alternating black and white booths, which are especially well suited for couples on dates, but potentially awkward at business dinners, unless you like to get cozy with the CEO. A wraparound painting on a central pillar depicts a couple deftly demonstrating the tango, Argentina’s seductive national dance. Twin flat screen televisions back the bar, along with wine barrels that jut out from a single stone wall. Upbeat Latin music encourages visiting caballeros and damas to dance, but nobody stands and twirls during my meal.
Chef Alberto Gomez may hail from Mexico, but he has clearly taken to Argentinean cookery. He oversees the sprawling menu at both Amosa-run branches of Gaucho Grill. A basket of locally made, airy, baguette-like Argentinean bread accompanies every meal. The rolls appear alongside a ramekin of chimichurri, a versatile sauce that goes well with everything from meat to vegetables. This South American staple combines parsley, olive oil, garlic and vinegar.
Some people might argue that empanadas are Argentina’s signature appetizer. For Gaucho Grill’s Empanadas Soufflé, the half moons arrive deep-fried, with crispy, blistered pastry, a supple inner lining, and a garnish of bright parsley. The menu descriptions don’t give much away, but what is listed as “Beef” results in a savory ground beef filling that is simply seasoned with salt and pepper. I like the Spinach and Cheese variation even better. It has a slightly creamy spinach-flecked ricotta and mozzarella filling, with a hint of sweetness from onion. Gaucho Grill also offers empanadas filled with either chicken, or ham and cheese.
Other popular starters on the menu include chorizo, the crumbly grilled Argentine blood sausage called morcilla; Provoleta, a molten slab of Provolone with tomato, basil, oregano, and olive oil; sautéed mushrooms with white wine, garlic and parsley; and The Argentine Mix, a combination of the aforementioned dishes, minus morcilla.
To start my meal, I’m interested in ordering a salad. The Manager's Special, featuring cubes of grilled chicken breast tossed with crisp lettuce, bright red diced tomatoes, earthy white beans, Spanish-style rice, mozzarella shavings and "special dressing" catches my attention. As it turns out, what makes the dressing so “special” is a piquant, proprietary mix of Picante dressing. This contains paprika and mustard, plus honey mustard.
Since Argentina has a considerable gaucho (cowboy) influence, I feel compelled to order a steak. Gaucho Grill primarily trades in rib eye steak, which is of course appealing, and filet mignon, which the proprietors promise is “cooked to perfection,” but I opt for Entraña a la Parrilla. The juicy 10-ounce skirt steak, certified Angus, features a rosy center, a good sear, and a twist on the house chimichurri that benefits from the added pop of Dijon mustard. Chef Gomez and his line cooks clearly make their steaks to order at Gaucho Grill, as a call for “medium rare” leaves a red pool from the steak on my plate.
The Parrillada, which Gaucho Grill designed for 2-3 people, includes asado de tira (grilled short ribs), skirt steak, a half-chicken, chorizo, mollejas (grilled veal sweetbreads). This feast comes with a choice of two sides and a skewer of chicken and vegetables that grill on the tabletop, which adds interaction to the experience.
With each entrée, I receive a choice of two sides, and since I order multiple plates, I have the luxury of trying a wide variety. I consider French fries, since the spuds would do a good job at sopping up jus, but opt to pair my steak with sautéed spinach, which demonstrates a mineral-rich, slightly bitter tang. The ramekin of black beans provides an earthy counterpoint to my steak after stewing with salt, pepper, onion and butter.
I prefer grilled salmon skin on, since it provides a crisp counterpoint to the moist meat. Chef Gomez opts to serve Grilled Salmon as a skinless fillet at Gaucho Grill, and he makes sure to enliven the rosy rectangle with tangy garlic vinaigrette and a small thatch of diced tomato. To incorporate seafood-friendly sides, I order firm green beans and subtly sweet grilled onions. A quick squeeze of the lemon wedge sets off the flavors in the fish and vegetables.
Gaucho Grill prepares boneless chicken breast 10 different ways. Chef Gomez and his team grill the white meat and present it with simple servings of rice and salad; pound and serve with sautéed onions and Dijon sauce; bread, fry and serve with mashed potatoes and zucchini; and treat the breast meat to a Parmigiana preparation that the owners call Suprema Napolitana, with tomato sauce and molten mozzarella.
The chicken breast variation that interests me the most is Deshuesado al Ajo. Gaucho Grill cooks begin with grilled, boneless chicken breast, and spoon on bright, acidic garlic tomato sauce. It is worth ordering the chicken with complementary grilled onions, crunchy and sweet, plus simply grilled zucchini, and sautéed broccoli. As always, a quick squeeze of lemon brightens up the plate. Next time, I will likely opt for the pollo al carbon. This dish is half a bird served on the bone, with the skin intact, leaving pleanty of dark meat to come into play.
Argentina has the second largest Italian population outside of Italy, so Gaucho Grill’s menu highlights that influence as well. I opt for the Noquis A La Bolognesa for a taste of Italy via Argentina. The supple homemade gnocchi is stuffed with four cheeses - parmesan, two types of mozzarella and feta – creating an inviting core. Then, the orbs are slathered with savory ground beef Bolognese and finished by showering the entirety with sharp Parmesan shavings.
Even though Argentineans are famous for their infatuation with meat, Gaucho Grill provides plenty of vegetarian friendly options. After all, Long Beach resides is Southern California, a region known for healthy living. Starters include tortilla de papa or espinaca, Argentinean style omelettes with either potato and oregano, or spinach. Griega Salad is a riff on a traditional Greek, featuring lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, peppers, olives, Feta cheese, and house-made dressing. “Mozarelacaprese,” which appears as one compressed word on the menu, like in a William Faulkner novel, combines fresh mozzarella cheese with Roma tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Flip the page of the menu and find more vegetarian options, including spinach and cheese ravioli swaddled in rich Alfredo sauce. Gaucho Grill also prepares burgers with Portobello mushrooms and mixed vegetables, each topped with lettuce, tomatoes and Swiss cheese.
Gaucho Grill offers almost 20 executive lunch specials during weekday lunch, with nothing over $13, and everything served with a side and soda. Lunchtime options include Santa Fe-style New York steak with white wine sauce; spinach fettuccini pasta with 100% Angus beef meatballs, tomato sauce, and mozzarella; and a salmon Caesar salad with grilled Atlantic seafood. There is also a variety of sandwiches and burgers available any time of the day, including an Angus Blue Cheeseburger with lean grilled beef, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. Yes, even Argentineans serve their burgers with French fries.
Gaucho Grill has a full bar, which allows Amosa and his team to pour cocktails like the Strawberry Mojito, a mix of Bacardi rum with mint leaves, lime, strawberry, club soda and house triple syrup. Guests looking for something effervescent should consider the Champagne Mojito, a cocktail that substitutes Chandon Brut for strawberries. The Gaucho Margarita combines Patron Silver, Grand Marnier, lime juice and house triple syrup.
Bartenders also mix a pair of sangrias daily, including a version with Cabernet Sauvignon, orange juice, club soda, and Triple Sec; and an enlightened variation with Sauvignon Blanc, St. Germain, fresh peaches, strawberries and raspberries, which is especially tempting in summer.
Drinkers who prefer to sip spirits neat can choose bottles that don’t just draw from Latin America. Gaucho Grill has a dozen different name-brand tequilas, including Cazadores Reposado and Patron Silver, but the proprietors also cast an eye towards Scotland. It is possible to score pours of Chivas 18-year whisky and The Glenlivet 18-year single malt Scotch, just to name a couple of offerings.
A handful of draught beers are also available, as are bottles of Quilmes pilsner imported from Argentina. Wines draw primarily from California and Argentina, many by the glass, including 2011 Tierra Brisa Chardonnay from Mendoza and 2011 Domingo Molina Malbec from Salta.
For dessert, Panqueque Con Dulce de Leche, supple, crisp-edged Argentine crepes arrive hot from the oven, filled with sweet oozing dulce de leche, made in-house and dusted with powdered sugar. The already indulgent dessert is then garnished with a dollop of airy whipped cream, aromatic mint leaf and a single maraschino cherry, which is bright enough to lead Santa’s sleigh through even the most blinding snowstorm.
Dulce de leche also factors into flan, with the home-made sauce swaddling a caramel creamy custard cake. There’s even dulce de leche ice cream, available with a second flavor like chocolate. Gaucho Grill also offers a Lava Rock Chocolate Souffle, which is served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Italy once again joins the Argentinean equation with the final dessert selection, tiramisu, which is comprised of espresso-soaked lady fingers enriched with mascarpone cream and a dusting of sweet cocoa powder.
Even though computer-savvy owner Adrian Amosa never had any restaurant experience prior to opening Gaucho Grill, he seems to have fallen for the lifestyle that so enamored his wife. The couple now has an adjacent Mexican restaurant and tequila bar in central Long Beach called Agaves. The concept, when combined with Argentina, frames the whole of Latin America.
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