When it comes to barbecued meat, the country of Argentina could really teach the world a thing or two.
During our travels in Argentina we devoured the country's famous barbecue and were so enamored with it that we frequently highlight the dish of Patagonian lamb as one of the best things we've ever eaten. (…and if you read our full travel destination list, you'll understand that this is truly saying something).
That being said, crafting an authentic Argentinian barbecue is not easy, and we can attest to being disappointed in most Argentinian restaurants that try to produce this country's iconic food outside of South America. As you can imagine, we had mixed emotions going into our visit to Gaucho Parrilla in the Strip District.
On one hand the reviews we've seen were all fantastic, but on the other hand we have a long history of being disappointed by restaurants in other parts of the country that simply do not stack up to the real thing.
Luckily for Gaucho Parrilla, they are absolutely spot on.
Gaucho Offers a Meat Overload
Although it is possible to order non-meat based items at Gaucho, unless you are a vegetarian you'd be doing yourself a disservice by doing so. Nearly every item on the menu is meat-centric and we quickly gravitated to some of our favorite dishes from Argentina- choripan (a chorizo sandwich) and bondiola (pulled pork with a spicy mustard sauce) to name a few.
Both of these sandwiches encompass all of the things we came to love about Argentinian barbecue.
You start with a huge pile of high quality meat, top it with fresh ingredients and unique sauces like ajo (garlic) and chimichurri, and throw it all on a thick hunk of bread to complete the fantastic lunch. Add a side of Gaucho's spicy take on humitas (a type of corn cake traditionally cooked in a corn husk) and you'll have enough food to keep you full for the rest of the day.
We even went in to Gaucho with the disadvantage of not being starving, as our visit coincided with a holiday weekend that was one large eating spree, and yet the dishes compelled us to keep eating until there was not a single bite left.
Suffice it to say, we didn't need dinner later that evening.
The Mains are Just as Good as the Sandwiches
On our second visit to Gaucho, we decided to go all-in on the mains and ordered the asado platter (five different steaks totaling 24 ounces) as well as a massive plate of pulled pork.
If tender, perfectly cooked meat in large quantities is what you seek, the mains are for you.
We absolutely love the concept of the asado platter as it lets you get a side-by-side of five cuts of meat to determine which one is your favorite- but since they're all cooked well you'll have quite the hard time choosing!
Throw in the array of sauces and you have a number of options to try over the course of the meal, just as it should be. (I think we're partial to the filet with the roasted red pepper sauce, if just ever-so-slightly.)
During this visit we were also able to add on a side of empanadas and split the selection between the meat, pork, and vegetarian fillings that were available during our visit. Since Gaucho is so meat heavy, it should be no surprise that the two meat empanadas ran circles around the vegetarian one which we felt was simply outmatched. This is almost to be expected.
Overall, Gaucho Parrilla is one of the finest restaurants in Pittsburgh- there really is no other way to say it. But the secret is out on this one and it is also known for having a devout fan base and long lines (think hour-plus regularly). So if you are looking to try out their amazing meats, cooked to perfection time and time again, you better be prepared for the crowds.
Pittsburgh, bienvenidos a Argentina!
Gaucho Parrilla is located at 1607 Penn Avenue in the Strip District. As Gaucho's popularity has exploded since opening in 2013, there is always a line out the door. Do not be daunted by this as the counter-based ordering system moves fast. If you don't have the time, call ahead and order takeaway to skip the line. Gaucho is also BYOB with no corkage fee.
Looking for more restaurants in the Strip District? Why not try Smallman Galley, Penn Avenue Fish Co., or Eleven! Or, for more reviews of Pittsburgh restaurants, click the previous link to be taken to our directory of every review on Discover the Burgh!
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