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Back Issues
2012 - Summer Issue
¡Comidas Sabrosas!
World Cuisine
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Jesse Ramirez
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For a true taste of Argentina, you don't have to hop the next flight to Buenos Aires. Since first opening in Zacatecas, Mexico almost two decades ago, the Garufa Restaurant brand has earned a solid following south of the border amongst those who enjoy fantastic steaks and an authentic Argentinean dining experience. If you've had the pleasure of trying out the restaurant in Juárez, you can surely attest to this. Fortunately for us locals, the first stateside branch opened right here in El Paso in 2010 and they have since solidified the Garufa reputation for great Argentinean cuisine in a very elegant and classy setting.

    Photo Captions

 2.) General Manager
Sam Breceda

5411 N Mesa St.
El Paso, TX 79912
You've probably noticed the pink, hacienda-style building when driving down Mesa Street. Well, the inside is just as memorable as the exterior. A sleek combination of travertine stone, muted lighting, crisp white linens and abstract art takes this restaurant a step above the average, everyday eatery. Seating is available in the spacious dining area or upstairs in a chic loft that is perfect for business meetings and private parties.

The setting alone is impressive, but the genuine Argentinean cuisine, unlike anything you can get in the area, is what keeps guests returning. General Manager Sam Breceda says, "We try to recreate the Argentinean kitchen as much as we can. We are known for the quality of our steaks and also for our wine selection." Naturally, steak is the foundation. Grilling steaks over an open flame is a tradition that dates back 300 years to the gauchos living on the open plains of the Pampas of Argentina. The steak menu includes nine different cuts ranging from 7 to 28 ounces. "We don't do anything besides putting it on a charcoal grill," notes Sam. "No sauces, no seasonings. The meat is so good it speaks for itself." Indeed, your thick slab of steak comes out perfectly cooked to tender perfection. Served simply with a grilled jalapeño, onions and a wood-handled steak knife, these steaks are sure to please even the most discerning meat connoisseurs.

Another Argentinean tradition that Garufa embraces is the enjoyment of fine wine. Argentina is one of the world's largest wine producers and the country has steadily gained a reputation for developing wines of high quality. And, as Sam notes, "Red wine goes perfectly with steak." In fact, Garufa currently comes in second on the list of the top red wine sellers in West Texas. In addition to wines native to Argentina, Garufa also offers an impressive selection of wine from all over the world including California, Australia, Italy and Chile.

While steak and wine are the centerpieces of the menu, Garufa doesn't neglect the other enticing elements of this South American cuisine. Empanadas are very popular menu choices, with no less than seven different fillings to choose from. No Argentinean menu would be complete without a touch of the flavors that Italian immigrants brought to the country. "In Argentina, the diet regularly includes pasta, pizza and wine," says Sam. Garufa plays to this influence with pasta dishes and savory appetizers like the provoleta, a thick slab of cheese pan roasted and topped with red bell pepper and skewers of olives drizzled in olive oil.

For a sweet ending, you won't be able to pass up the desserts which are just as elegant as the restaurant itself. "Most of our desserts are made in-house," says Sam, "and they are more unique than most restaurants in this area offer. They are made from scratch in the true Argentinean style that you won't find anywhere else. For example, the dulce de leche is made like they make it in Argentina, with cow's milk, not like the Mexican cajeta which is made with goat's milk." It's true that the desserts are artfully prepared. The traditional alfajor, for instance, has perfectly flaky layers of pastry with a sweet and creamy caramel filling. A seductive drizzle of hot caramel and a dusting of powdered sugar keeps this dessert on par with Garufa's classy style.

One thing is for certain, this authentic Argentinean restaurant doesn't disappoint. Whether you stop in for lunch during the week or spend your next romantic date night enjoying a fabulous steak, you will certainly be impressed with the elegant décor and flawless service, not to mention the incredible food. At some point, you must try a steak, but don't pass up the other enticing options, which beautifully reflect the intricacies of Argentinean cuisine. From start to finish, Garufa is truly a one of a kind dining experience that shouldn't be missed. ///
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