>> El Gaucho Meat Market | Eat the World Los Angeles

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

El Gaucho Meat Market


COVID-19 UPDATE: The tables at one end of the market are available for eating in once again, and the TVs are forever tuned to football. Tables outside line the entire shopping plaza and can also be used by customers of the market.

If it is your first time to the Manhattan Beach Blvd. location of El Gaucho, you might find the experience a little intimidating. Around lunchtime on any given day, the market is abuzz with customers ordering lunches to go and many people dining in, grocery shoppers, empanada preparation and big pots full of cooking ingredients.

If you are in the mood for a sandwich, head all the way to the right when you enter and take a look at the menu of Argentinian steak and milanesa options as well as a long list of deli favorites more common in the States. Open since 1994 the market really knows its entire customer base, which is far from Argentina-exclusive, and can make just about anyone who walks through the doors happy.

A view to the empanada prep area.

The market is the dream of Abel Garcia, who originally worked at Catalina's in Hollywood after coming to Los Angeles from Argentina in the late 70's. That was the first representation of the country in Southern California, but nowadays markets and restaurants are spread throughout the area. This South Bay institution is still one of (if not the) most popular.

A list of nine empanadas ($2.39/each or $22.99/dozen, below) varieties is posted at the counter, but after trying each one the traditional beef and chicken options stand head and shoulders above the rest. Both tastes are simple but hearty, a combination of ingredients that just scream out comfort. The others may be good for variety, but it is these classics that will be re-ordered over and over by most customers.

So many it takes a pizza box to hold.

And why not grab a box by the dozen? If you just leave with one or two, you are bound to be unsatisfied after that final bite. Large orders will re-purpose a pizza box for ease of transport.

If you are in the mood for a sandwich that represents the country of Argentina, try the lomito ($9.99 large, below). You will find this sold from morning to late nights in Buenos Aires, just as perfect for an early lunch as it is for soaking up a night of drinking. The sandwich at El Gaucho is a bit pared down from what you might find in Argentina, where there are usually so many ingredients between the bread that your hands and elbows will be littered with everything that falls out even after one bite.

But the thin strips of lomo steak are delicious and satisfying just the same, joined by crisp lettuce and fresh tomatoes. The fried egg is not present here, but a nice slather of mayonnaise is applied to both top and bottom.

While waiting for your sandwich(es) to be prepared, a stroll around the market might be more dangerous than you expect. Plenty of Argentinian red wines are available, even one labeled specifically for the market. Shelves are stocked with canned and bottled groceries and products and candy from back home.

Freshly made boxes of Argentinian pastries (above) can also be found up near the cash register, various assortments for $4.99 or $6.99 like the box shown. Fried balls full of dulce de leche are joined by danishes and other sugared goodies that show off the country's European flare.

On any given day you will find European football on television if you show up earlier in the morning and various leagues from South America on later in the day on weekends. Come during a bigger matchday for Argentina and do not expect to find a seat even if you can make it back to the counter to order.

๐Ÿ“ 2715 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Redondo Beach, South Bay


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