It was 93 degrees in Pittsburgh today. Do you know what the feels like? A little bit like you're living in the depths of hell instead of Pittsburgh and a lot like my long-sleeve fashion dress was a poor choice.
I am racing to get to the pool, but I had to stop everything to talk about the truly spectacular lunch I had today at Gaucho Parrilla Argentina in the Strip District.
GAUCHO I am truly disappointed we never met until today. Maybe it was because before you expanded, you typically had a line out the door and that scared me. Regardless, that is behind us now. You can't shake me off. I have the feeling this is going to be the start of something beautiful.
Get ready to be my go-to, my rock, my steadfast companion, my trendy friend I like to show off when guests come to visit. Can I really say all of this after just one meal? YES FOLKS, it is that good.
Gaucho is unfortunately/fortunately one of those cool places that makes it immediately apparent that you have never been there before the second you walk through the door. The menu is on the wall, and you order at the counter. Without knowing exactly what to do, you will probably stand awkwardly in the threshold for a bit before realizing it is time to move out of the way and order. Unless of course, I warn you first.
The menu is gigantic - literally, and figuratively. It takes up an entire wall. Appetizers, plates, sandwiches. I awkwardly stood in the threshold longer than most because it all sounded so good and I couldn't choose. Luckily, I knew I would be back.
Without further ado, please allow me to give Gaucho Parrilla Argentina the "Maddie's qualified/unqualified Food Review" pro-con treatment....
- BYOB: and they are prepared... glasses are sitting on a shelf for your own taking
- Fast service: not sure if this is always true if the place gets busy, but in America you have fast service until proven slow
- The sauces: ask anyone I am friends with IRL - I love nothing more than to dunk food into something else, even if it makes 0 sense (ie: dunking Kinda Bars that have a 0% absorbency rate). Gaucho had 4 sauces available to serve yourself and smother your meal in, and they are all delicious. Seriously....I took home a container of each, no shame.
- Empanadas: Pretty damn good, and a perfect vehicle for all of the sauces.
- Grilled corn: This corn was not withered, which can sometimes happen when corn is grilled.
- Sandwich Bread: I love sandwiches a lot, but I hate when there is too much bread and it negates the actual flavors of the sandwich. I also hate when the bread isn't thick enough to support the sandwich. Gaucho found the perfect middle bread - well done.
- Alfajores: Perfect size for something sweet after the meal.
I have nothing bad to say about the food, but I have two negative opinions I feel the need to share...
Music: Were they playing my middle school iPod? The All-American Rejects? Really? ANYTHING else would have been better. Play traditional Argentinian music, that would have been great.
Decor: This only applies to the backroom. The front room was trendy and great. I have a personal vendetta against cliche Pittsburgh photos (ie: the incline or anything taken from Mt. Washington), so I can't help but judge when a place willingly displays these
When I walked into Gaucho, I didn't feel like I was in Pittsburgh... but at the same time, I did. Gaucho wouldn't be out of place in New York, Chicago or even L.A. We Pittsburghers are lucky that it is no longer out of place here. In that regard, the trendy eatery doesn't feel like Pittsburgh.
However, the friendliness of the staff, the casualness of the other customers.... that is Pittsburgh. Gaucho truly is a great example of the extraordinary, passionate, but humble food scene currently exploding in Pittsburgh.