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Back Issues
2012 - Summer Issue
¡Comidas Sabrosas!
World Cuisine
Article: Jessica Muncrief
Photos: Jesse Ramirez
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In 2001, the Brandi family ventured north from their native Buenos Aires, Argentina to start a new life in the borderland, bringing with them a love and appreciation for the culture and cuisine of their home country. They decided to share this love by opening an authentic Argentinean restaurant in Juárez about five years ago and, based on their successes, their latest venture opened about a year ago right here in El Paso. This delightful eatery is located on Thorn Avenue, in between Doniphan and Redd Road on the Westside. Step inside and you will immediately be charmed by the sea blue walls that play to this bistro's name (Cuartito Azul is Spanish for "little blue room"). In addition to traditional music playing in the background, the walls are covered with an eclectic mix of memorabilia representing what Argentina is most famous for: tango, soccer and wine.


Cuartito Azul
500 Thorn Ave.
El Paso, TX 79912
Just as true to the Argentinean culture as the décor, is the enticing menu. The Brandis took care to include all the best dishes from their homeland. I was fortunate enough on my visit to get to try out a little bit of everything and I can assure you that no matter what you order you won't be disappointed. "Everything we serve is traditional, fresh and homemade," says Leandro Brandi, "that is what truly sets us apart."

My tour of the Cuartito Azul cuisine began with an Argentinean favorite— empanadas. "These are very traditional and our most popular item. Everyone starts with empanadas," says Leandro. There are six different flavors to choose from: humita (corn and cheese), beef, ham and cheese, spinach, chicken, and four cheese. You can get them in orders of four or six and yes, you can mix and match so you can sample a little of each. These savory treats are perfectly crispy outside and bursting with spices and flavors on the inside. They are served with the traditional chimichuri sauce, a tangy mix of oil, vinegar, onions, garlic, and herbs.

Another traditional dish that you can't go wrong with is the chorizo. This spicy grilled sausage is a mix of half pork and half beef grilled to perfection and served with garlic bread and fresh sliced tomatoes. The entire dish is seasoned with herbs and drizzled with the house dressing mixture of red wine vinegar and olive oil. This simple dish is packed with zesty flavors. It is perfect for an appetizer or even a light lunch.

Naturally, my Argentinean meal wouldn't be complete if I didn't try the steak. Cuartito Azul serves their steaks churrasco style, referring mainly to its thin cut. Leandro notes, "Everyday we buy whole steaks and cut them in the classic Argentinean style. That is the main difference between our steaks and what you will find in other restaurants. This is the most traditional steak. You would be able to find it in almost any restaurant in Argentina." It is served beautifully grilled with the simple necessities: salad, chimichurri sauce and a steak knife.

Alternatives to steak are several pasta and salad dishes. "Argentina is a mix of Spanish and Italian," notes Leandro, "so we have some pasta dishes on the menu as well." The lasagna is a bit different, however. It is made with thin layers of crepes in lieu of pasta and filled with ham, mozzarella and spinach. You can mix and match most of the pasta dishes with the sauce of your choice. I had my lasagna with the four cheese and I can tell you that this creamy, indulgence is worth trying. The salad selection is nothing to scoff at either. If you're a seafood fan, I highly recommend the salmon salad. This bed of fresh spinach greens, almonds and cherry tomatoes is topped with two enormous pieces of salmon that have been superbly grilled in a white wine, butter and garlic sauce.

If you are looking to try a little something new, both the food and atmosphere at Cuartio Azul are packed with Argentinean flavor. To try a bit of everything, go in at lunch for their $9.99 lunch special which includes soup or salad, a beef empanada and your choice of a steak, pasta or tilapia entrees. Or, for an even more authentic experience, stop by on Saturday at about 9:00 pm when they offer tango lessons and dancing. No matter what time you visit, you're sure to leave with an appreciation of Argentina's exciting culture. ///
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