It’s apparent from the moment you step in the door that El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse is not your average steakhouse. Located in a massive 2 story building right next to the popular Terminal 21 shopping mall, it looks and feels special. Outside they have the obligatory café style seating, but on the inside you’re greeted by a rustic, yet contemporary space that is inescapably inviting. The place smells fantastic, as there is little doubt that you’ve entered the sacred realm of “the carnivore “. The aroma of grilled meat is truly intoxicating, and the strategically located butcher style display case gives you a first glance at the quality of the product on offer. You may want to stay downstairs and relax on the comfy leather sofas or sit at the bar for a before dinner drink, but my impatient nature led me straight up stairs to the main dining room in eager anticipation of the meal yet to come.
The décor upstairs is a clever mix of exposed brick, rich dark woods, wine bottles as art and soft amber lighting. The Latin music sets a contagiously energetic vibe and don’t be surprised if the place is fully packed before 800PM on a weeknight. The staff is at a whole different level as they are English speaking, and shockingly knowledgeable about the menu. I mean, they can actually tell you about where the food comes from, how it’s cooked, what’s different about one dish over another and even give you a damn good wine recommendation….amazing. The concept is to deliver to Asia the traditional cuisine and flavors of Argentina and South America by utilizing high-quality local ingredients and imported cuts of meat from Australia and America. The wine list is also impressive with nearly 100 varieties available by the bottle. They have about 12 options available by the glass, but expect to pay between 250 to 400Baht a glass for the privilege. The 12 page menu is a bit overwhelming as they offer a plethora of choices from soups, salads, burgers, pastas, skewers, fish, poultry, lamb and the choices go "on and on". But for me, my money is on the beef and on that level El Gaucho more than delivers.
Every meal here begins with a kick ass basket of sourdough bread, which is arguably some of the best in the city. The bread is crusty on the outside and warm and soft on the inside and served with a trio of sides including Chimichurri Sauce, Roasted Garlic (still in the cloves) and Salsa Graico made from oil, pepper, parsley and onion. I dare you not to order a second basket. To get a taste of some classic South American flavors, I suggest going for the Wild Mushroom Empanada which is tasty mushrooms encased in flakey baked pastry. Another must try is the Salchicha Sausage, which is a homemade Argentinian spicy sausage that is very meaty in taste and soft in texture. This comes with a fresh and bright salad that has an engaging salad dressing that is somewhat sweet without being overly creamy. As good as the starters are, for me it’s all about the steak. On my visit I opted for the Filet of Australian Black Angus Prime and the Ribeye of USDA Black Angus Prime. Both steaks arrive on a sizzling plate and are perfectly cooked to a sexy medium rare. You can see the crisscross charcoal marks on the meat and the aroma can only be described as foreplay. The fillet is excellent, by any stretch of the imagination, but the rib-eye is “manna from heaven”. Juicy, fatty, with those little bits of char left me moaning and groaning with unadulterated pleasure. The sides are equally fabulous, and you won’t be disappointed if you try the rich Creamed Spinach and the yummy Mushrooms w/ White Wine Sauce. I know there are some options for sauces to go with the steak, but no matter how good they taste, I consider them a diversion from the sublime pleasure of beef meeting smoke and salt. The wine of choice is the Alta Vista Classic Malbec from Argentina which is a vibrant semi dry red with hints of dark berry that work magically with the succulent steak. If you’re anything like me, I suggest you order it by the bottle instead of by the glass. If you have room for dessert, they have more than a few options, but the traditional way to end your meal is with an El Caramel which is a heady shot of vodka and caramel…sounds odd, but tastes delightful.
El Gaucho is amazing because they do something that most of the steakhouses in Bangkok don’t do; they make steak casual and accessible. It’s not stuffy and pretentious and the fact that they were fully packed by 8:00PM on a Monday night is a testament to the success of their laid back approach. You get the feeling that everyone is welcome and their well-trained English speaking staff are a shockingly refreshing breath of fresh air. Because they are a chain restaurant with two successful branches in Vietnam, El Gaucho had a winning formula right out of the box. Sure there are less expensive places to eat and you can expect to pay top dollar for their premium steaks, but that is true for anywhere you go in the city for a good steak. Cheaper options are available on their menu if you choose some of their non-beef fare, but either way you will be pleased to delve into some of the unfamiliar flavors of South America. El Gaucho does not disappoint with the food and service and it is easy to see why they are so popular.
El Gaucho Argentinian Steakhouse
Sukhumvit Soi 19, Sukhumvit Road
North Klong Toey, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: +66 22 552 864