Andrea Mendoza, Reporter
Sizzle and smoke define Asado Cucina Argentina, the South Sound’s only Argentine-themed steakhouse and a staple restaurant of the trendy Sixth Avenue dining district.
Asado Cucina Argentina in Tacoma was established in 2005 and has been voted Western Washington’s Best Latin American Restaurant for six years running. The word “asado” means a gathering of friends for a grill party – the Argentine equivalent of an American patio barbecue – and that theme translates into a convivial gathering spot for friends and family.
Asado Cucina Argentina is a steakhouse with a flavor-forward menu with preparations licked with smoke and sophistication.
Restaurant goers can enjoy the traditional Argentinian cuisine at this exclusive restaurant. Dishes usually range from $27-60.
Appetizers include empanadas, which are savory turnovers of lamb, beef, vegetarian or seasonal fillings, Chorizo crab cakes with Uli’s Spanish Chorizo, Peppadew, Chilean Rock Crab, Cilantro Jalapeño Aioli and crystallized cilantro, calamari steak sliced thin and breaded with seasoned parmesan bread crumbs and roasted yellow pepper aioli. Ceviche with their daily selection of marinated seafood, guacamole and plantain chips are also available on the menu, as well as fried plantain chips with housemade guacamole.
Asado Cucina Argentina offers lunch and dinner. The lunch menu includes soups like butternut squash, salads such as prawn salad and choripan (sandwiches) like the roasted portabello burger. The menu also includes skewer combos, a variety of parrilla (from the grill) dishes like tenderloin steak and mesquite grilled ribbed steak and cocina (from the kitchen) dishes that include housemade gnocchi, seared scallops and quinoa bowls.
Dinner includes more parilla and cocina options. Parilla includes costilla de la carne, which is frenched rib steak, and grilled market fish. All parrilla items are served with one’s choice of peruvian purple mashed potatoes, poblano polenta, stewed lentils, braised quinoa or charred red onion mashed potatoes. The Cocina items include more pasta and seafood based dishes such as pollo frito fettucine, which is buttermilk marinated fried chicken, with chorizo gravy alfredo and crystallized cilantro and mero de la costa, which is seared sea bass, seasonal vegetables, fried root crisps and paquillo beurre blanc (butter sauce).
In order to get a table, one can make reservations by phone or online. Those who’ve made a reservation get priority seating rather than the people who’ve arrived without a reservation. Reserving a table is highly recommended as tables fill up quickly in the evenings, especially during the weekends. El Asado is social by design. From any seating area one can see a large chef’s table straddling the display kitchen, but the seating area doesn’t create an intimate setting. The place is quite small, making tables a little too close to each other and therefore being able to hear the conversations around the table.
Heady smoke wafts from the display kitchen where chefs sear beef over a mesquite grill. Low lighting is moody by night, bright and beautiful by day because of the expansive garage doors that roll up in the summertime, making the dining experience spill onto Sixth Avenue. A mural evokes pastoral Argentina. Metal work and heavy doses of deep-hued wood create a rustic urban palette that makes the experience feel like a midwestern saloon.
Considering the size of the dishes, Asado Cucina Argentina is fairly priced. Some items on the menu may be a little too expensive, but overall the quality of service and the atmosphere makes the experience worth it.
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