San Diego’s Best – Gauchito Argentine Grill

I’m just going to call it the best in San Diego. Gauchito Argentine Grill . We really don’t have many from which to choose. So fortunate to have the best right nearby!

Traveling through San Marcos, we’ve stopped here before; and desiring to try again, often stopped by to find them closed on Sundays. Well, today was Wednesday and I happened to be in the area. I’m thinking, “I’m gonna pick up some empanadas for the family”. We are used to empanadas from Los Angeles’ “Catalina Market” and these are just as good or better. I have issues making empanadas. I can’t seem to get the dough right or the filling. I’ll keep trying…to be continued!

I just happened to be there just before their short closing (3-5pm daily). They use their closure time for dinner service preparation. I was fortunate enough to catch the owner. Turns out, she’s the founder and previous owner of Pampas Argentine Grill on Aero Drive in San Diego, the only good Argentine restaurant before she sold it. She and the original Pampas chef had started a new venture right near my house. I didn’t know the relationship. I think Pampas is still good to this day.

I met her…Celeste…the owner of Pampas…really??? I was stoked! I talked with her extensively, milking her for every ounce of information I could, yet not enough to totally intrude and keep her from their break time. I showed up just before 3pm (short closing). She was very friendly and open to conversation. My food was awesome, yet predictable. I guess I knew what to expect…I expected excellent, and I got excellent empanadas. I also ordered short ribs. They were similar to what I can make…but then again I married into an Argentine family, so a certain amount rubs off…just not the empanadas. I’m going to get that one mastered…and I have a family source. I just have to come up with the right ploy…or money! One of these days!

To summarize: Bull Shit…just go there, they are very good!


Recognizing Awesomeness! – Dr. Evil

I’ve written about this guy in the past. He’s a co-worker that really is the only one on our staff that get’s excellent culinary inspiration from the same thing as I. He really is a capable cook…consitantly bringing to the workplace creations worth recognizing.

I arrive one morning to a note. I get to work at 6am and he’s the only one that beats me.  I think he suffers from the same sleeping issue as I…my family calls it “active bowel syndrome”, in which you wake early…just ’cause… and I’ll just leave it at that. Well, Dr. Evil is a name I’m using with him from now on. I was going to call him “The Mad Doctor”, but Dr. Evil just seems fitting. As many of you may know, I’m the original “Dr. Evil” amongst several family members, so I really had to think about my reservations for the re-use.

Dr. Evil (he’s the only person in our office with a PHD), is a Wildlife Biologist so most of his shit (discussions and conversation) is demented and void of any realization of human understanding and interactional relationship. He’s a scientist for Pete’s sake. A great guy…but an absolutely awesome cook!

The note read “Chuck’s Spicy Cajun Pancit”. First thing I asked him…before I tried it was, “What the hell do you know about Pancit”. His reply was “I kinda like it, and just wanted to make something”. He brought in this contraption that had a very interesting appeal. It had color, texture, and flavor. Ingredients included some kind of Japanese mushroom (he forgot the name), Gulf Shrimp, Crawfish and Alligator. Hell, I guess now the question is, “What does Alligator taste like?” My answer is, “It tastes like chicken”, ’cause that’s what I thought it was. He also had plenty of broken (not crushed) red chili pepper to add the heat, texture and color.

I quickly complimented him on his execution. The noodles were perfectly cooked and not broken/destroyed. The spiciness was firm…but not killer, and the entire dish was spiced flawlessly. Well done! I even brought a sample home so the family could check it out.

Although I’m probably only going to buy him one…Chuck’s ability of awesomeness in the kitchen has earned him 4 bottles of inspiration!


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