Met some friends for drinks at Cinnabar in Glendale Friday. Great bar, but the restaurant part is out of our price range, so the guys suggested we try an Argentine barbecue joint up the street. Good move!
Gauchos Village (the lack of an apostrophe seems to be intentional) is in an unassuming storefront on Brand, across the street from a theatre/shops complex. It was pretty early, so there was no real crowd, and we were seated right away. Our hostess, a very friendly young woman, wasted no time explaining the procedure: help yourself to the salad bar and the food bar as much as you like, and use the wooden marker on the table to indicate whether you want the meat-servers to bring their skewers by: green end up means yes, red end up means no. The charge is $19.90, with drinks and dessert extra.
Well, we got our money's worth, and then some. The salad bar had very fresh, very good choices, and the hot-food bar was loaded with interesting and (I assume) authentic Argentine side-dishes, including empanadas, a sundried-tomato/eggplant dish, fried bananas and an excellent black bean and pork stew. Coming off the servers' sword blades were pork and beef tenderloin, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, chicken legs, and a few other things that I was too busy enjoying to identify. Since we'd had a few cocktails we mostly stuck to water, but one of us got an Argentine beer that was perfect for such a meal. My wife and I split a dessert, a passion-fruit mousse that (unlike the ghastly one at Chez Sateau, see review below) was simple, elegant and delightful. The extras aren't dirt cheap - $4 for the dessert, $4.50 for the beer - but nobody was in any mood to complain.
A fine and friendly place, we thought. Nice mix of local regulars and out-of-towners, intimate but with plenty of room, comfortable, not loud, and a real bargain. Next time we're looking for a good place to take a crowd, we'll definitely pick this place over Buca di Beppo.