Cambalache – means “bazaar” or “junk shop” . . . according to Wikipedia. Not quite sure how this relates to this fine-dinning restaurant that is part of 6 additional restaurants with the same name and also part of a restaurant group that has a couple other restaurant names. Nonetheless, it was one pretty bad-ass Argentinian restaurant that has put all that I’ve been to in the past, in their rightful place . . . well below Cambalache.
After incoherently searching the internet and speaking with several local cab drivers, bus operators, time-share sales persons and travelers on the beach; I finally came up with a short list of possible restaurants from which to help celebrate our milestone anniversary. It really wasn’t easy because most persons assumed that we automatically would target Mexican food. Well, most everything we have been eating while here in Cancun has been Mexican or South American and, not that it was out of the realm, but we just really wanted a damn good dinner.
In the heart of Cancun’s hotel district and serious young crazy party area (loud music dance/drinking clubs on every corner), Cambalache is on the second floor of the central shopping mall that also hosts Senor Frogs. The mall entrance is right between Coco Bongo and Carlos and Charlie’s. Two very loud Tequilla head shaking party monstrosities. Cambalache features elegant decor, a wide open eating area, beautiful tile flooring and woodwork that brings you into the spirit of the wonderful time you are about to encounter.
We began our evening with a bottle of Malbec that really got our palates flowing. We passed through the Empanadas (one beef, one spinach/cheese and one Neapolitan). They were very tasty with the spinach/cheese a real standout for flavor. The addition of garlic mushrooms finished our appetizers with tremendous anticipation of what was next.
The Caesar salad was hand-made at the table, as this is what I would be expecting since being created in Mexico. Although good and fresh, I instantly detected the lack of adequate salt in the dressing and the crouton was not made correctly (i.e. crispy outside, bread-like inside). I still tore that stuff up as it was only a minor setback, possibly due to our server not tasting the dressing before serving. Perhaps . . .
I think what could be said is the chimichurri was not like mine . . . again that’s like saying a pasta sauce is not like mine . . . or a salsa is not like mine. Chimis are made a billion different ways with a billion different ingredients and no-one’s as good as mine . . . or Mom’s. I hope you’re following me here . . .
We had a couple of plates consisting of a Tenderloin Brochette that was chunks of beef tenderloin intertwined with bacon, bell peppers and onions. Extremely flavorful and the meat became the standout on this plate. The server asked me to be cautious of the lightly grilled Serano chilis and I laughed. I don’t know if it’s the soil . . . but these were damn hot. Another plate that we shared at our table was a chicken plate smothered in mushrooms and small potatoes. I know . . . what the hell are we doing ordering chicken at an Argentinian restaurant? Trust me, there was a fair amount of controversy on that subject at the table. We also shared a hand-made potato basket full of Souffle’ Potatoes (their unique specialty). These were all puffed out, seasoned to perfection with just the right amount of salt. Carlos, our Matier D, also told us about how they were created. An interesting process of frying them three times.
Everything served was flavorful, cooked perfectly and presented flawlessly. Carlos also acted as our Sommelier, helped us select two bottles of wine, and provided our table with exceptional friendliness, customer service and a complimentary desert with handcrafted lettering to conclude the celebration of our occasion.
Visit them if ever in Cancun. http://www.cambalacherestaurantes.com.mx/welcome.html I don’t think you’ll ever be dissatisfied.