This was sort of a bait-and-switch. Coming down to Los Angeles, I asked the friend with whom I was staying to come up with some fried dough offerings for dinner. We had a grand night of it (six stops in all!), but one of the immediate suggestions which came to mind were empanadas. And fortunately, the South Bay has a wide variety of Central and South American offerings against which we were going to compare.
To start the evening, my friend brought me to El Gaucho Meat Market, a perfectly delightful Argentine market in Redondo Beach. It really is an exceptionally well-stocked store and it seems, a well-stocked meat market. That was rather impressive and if you walk all the way to the back of the crowded space, it opens up to display a fairly large seating area and a small food service counter. Shame on me for not being cognizant of what other foods were being offered, because I knew we were here for empanadas.
For $1.65 each, we tried two of their three flavors; spinach and beef (chicken is also available). The bait-and-switch is that Argentine empanadas are baked and not fried. I am slightly upset with myself for wasting the calories on it, but I can appreciate the comparison check next to what was to come that evening; Colombian and Salvadorean empanadas which were fried.
When I lived in SoCal, I really loved Empanadas Place but those that are offered here at El Gaucho are not nearly as good, although for the price they were not that bad. Too wishy-washy? Well, I used to live in Redondo Beach and a decade ago, Empanadas Place had a branch there on Artesia Boulevard, so it was close by, inexpensive, and incredibly tasty. And fried. El Gaucho’s were gummy and heavy. The spinach filling was decent enough and tasted so much like spanikopita I wondered if they included cheese. The beef was spiced nicely but I found the binding ingredient to be a tad pasty. This all makes it sound like I wasn’t enjoying myself which is not the case. Again, for the price they were perfectly acceptable. But unfortunately, it mostly made me long for those which I knew to be better.
Pictures on Fried Dough Ho: http://frieddoughho.com/el-gaucho-mea...
El Gaucho Market
2715 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Redondo Beach, CA 90278
425 W 8th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014
3011 Harbor Blvd, Costa Mesa, CA 92626