There’s a bright, youthful, sporty quality about Gaucho Tequila restaurant. A soccer game was on the TV; young people were nuzzling away in intimate nooks on the outside patio. This appeared to be territory for the young, or for the “young at heart.”
But inside, Gaucho Tequila begged to be considered a fine Argentine eatery. Greetings were brief but professional and pleasant. Low-key jazz music smoothed out an ambiance of suavity and hipness. It felt clubby and urbane. Mexican by design, with wall-hangings of tango and gaucho images in vivid, bossy colors, the new interior was set with plenty of space around each table. The décor was graciously simple, although it was difficult to reckon whether I should be watching soccer or settling back to soft, sweet background music and a fine sipping wine.
With only seven months into its history in Ajijic, Gaucho Tequila and its restaurateur, a young man not more than 30, may still be in the process of evolving a dining brand for itself.
Like the venue itself, the menu seemed to welcome enviable youth (who’ve not yet had their first lipid profile), with rich meat and cheese dishes: Tortas with beef and cheese, both Clasica (beef, cheese, potato) and what could be called a lumberjack’s delight, Chivito (the Classica with added bacon and eggs). And if these weren’t loaded enough for you, there was something called Che-Philly Torta (a drowned sandwich with mind-blowing “double beef” with “extra cheese”).
For traditionalists, the menu also offered rib eye, arrachera, beef tenderloin or spicy pork sausage tacos. An Atkins diet Disneyland. Even the starters and the salads all came with rich cheeses. It was surprising that the menu offered no seafood dishes.
An alluring, mid-menu item caught my eye, Chicken Chimichurri. (If you’re feeling saturated-fat deprived, you can add Roquefort dressing.) The Chicken Chimichurri came on a wooden serving board with mushrooms sautéed in white wine and a wonderfully smooth chimichurri sauce grilled into the filleted breast and coating it. The flavors were boisterous: minced parsley, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, garlic, all soaked in olive oil with hints of lemon. The grilling was spot on, with juices nicely trapped under one side of skin. My partner ordered Azteca soup and a Mozzarella al Pesto salad. The mozzarella had a warm tender feel and was lathered in fresh basil-pesto dressing with tomato trimmings. A Las Moras Reserva – an Argentinian malbec – suited the rich flavors of our meals.
Once again in a nod to party-like and young-crowd occasions, the well-stocked (especially the tequilas) bar served prepared drinks from White Russians to Vampiritos and Pina Coladas to Margaritas and other favorites.
The restaurant, as yet, doesn’t ask for reservations and doesn’t include its phone number in its ads. Find it tucked away at the far northern flank of the Plaza Interlago.