Los Gauchos Parrilla Argentina restaurant now open
There’s an entire continent of food south of the U.S. border, way past Mexico, and a taste of it is just outside the main gate at Scott Air Force Base.
Los Gauchos Parrilla Argentina opened about a month ago, after operating it as a food truck for more than five years. Owners Oscar and Ainara Farina moved here when they settled in Caseyville for her job with the Coast Guard, and Oscar is finally getting to join the rest of his family in food service with the opening of Los Gauchos.
“Everybody’s intimidated, we have to educate” customers about the dishes and flavors, Ainara said. “They assume Mexican, but actually Argentinian and Spanish.”
Oscar is from Argentina and moved with his family to Miami when he was a teenager. Ainara was 8 when her parents brought her to Miami from Spain, where her Puerto Rican father had been stationed in the military and met her mother.
Because of her background, Ainara brings Spanish and Latin flavors to the table, while Oscar’s Argentinean base draws from Italy and Germany as well.
Meat and more meat fills plates at Los Gauchos, just as it does in Argentina, Oscar says. Beef, pork, chicken and lamb are staples.
“If you’re a guy, you have to know the meat,” he said of his homeland. Much of it is cooked on the grill, and he said Americans might think of it as something like a barbecue.
Los Gauchos, holding to its South American food roots, which has a lot of European influence, uses garlic, salt and black pepper as “basic seasoning,” Oscar said.
“With our dishes, we want them to taste the meat,” he said.
Jeremy Bruno is one of two employees and was working the lunch shift recently. He became acquainted with the Farinas when he bought Empanadas de Carne ($2.99, it’s like a Latin American Turnover, Ainara says) and more from their food truck. His favorite dish is Papas Fritas Gauchas, which is also Ainara’s favorite.
“For a lot of people, the closest thing they can relate to is Mexican (food),” Jeremy said. “I’d say it’s spiced difference, it’s more classy ... overall a little more rich.”
I could eat that with a spoon; I’m trying to restrain myself here.
Karin Moore, a customer at Los Gauchos Parrilla Argentina
Early customers to lunch this week were impressed at their first visit.
“It’s well seasoned, not overly spicy. It’s not like anything I’ve had before,” said Karin Moore of her Guisado de Puerco con Arroz y Ensalada de Repollo ($9.99), or pulled pork with chimichurri sauce and cole slaw. She said the cole slaw was good, and “not as goopy as American. It’s tasty.”
Ainara said the cole slaw is “not traditional” as Americans tend to think of cole slaw. Los Gauchos seasons the cabbage and carrots with their chimichurri and steak sauces that are flavored with herbs in a guarded family recipe of Oscar’s grandmother. He called it a “hidden treasure.”
Master Sergeant Rosalie Crowley had the Papas Fritas Gauchas ($9.99) with Latin pulled pork. She liked it and said the portion size was generous, and especially liked the flavoring and spice of the chimichurri sauce.
“I could eat that with a spoon; I’m trying to restrain myself here,” Karin said.
They were dining with Mike Labar, who had polished off his Choripan, a pork sausage sandwich ($8.99) that left little room for him to finish the included Papas Fritas.
“It was good. It doesn’t need any spices,” he said of the sandwich, which was topped with the chimichurri sauce.
Los Gauchos Parrilla Argentina
- 747 Seibert Road, just outside Scott Air Force Base; 314-755-2148; www.facebook.com/losgauchos618/
- Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday
- Delivery: Yes, with $35 minimum order
- Seats: 36, indoor only