Gaucho Parrilla Argentina, or Gaucho for short, is an Argentinian steak restaurant featuring a wood-fired grill menu. It is one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh, if not my favorite. It’s great for any occasion: catching up with an old friend, going with a big group of people, or bringing your family when they visit during family weekend. This time, I brought my sister, who was visiting, to see if it lived up to her steak-loving standards.
Gaucho is tucked in a small building on Penn Avenue in the Strip District, a couple blocks down from the buzzing part of the neighborhood with Wholey’s, Primanti Bros., and many street vendors. The Strip District is one of the most fun and unique neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, but it’s also one of the more isolated areas to go to for students; the only bus that will take you straight there from Oakland is the 54 bus. There’s always Uber or Lyft, but the 15-minute bus ride on the 54 isn’t bad, especially if you go with a group of friends.
Inside Gaucho is all hard wood, chalkboards, and rustic vibes. When you walk into the restaurant, the first thing you see is the expansive black chalkboard along the wall displaying the menu in colorful chalk. The space is energetic and lively, and as expected, the line to order and pay for your food goes out the front door. Pro tip: if you want to go for lunch on Saturday, try to get there before it opens at 11 a.m. – I guarantee there will already be a line when it opens.
The expansive menu has many choices: plates, sandwiches, salads, and streak platters, as well as sides like empanadas and roasted cauliflower. The steaks are offered in flank, NY strip, ribeye, sirloin, and filet mignon.
My go-to order is the Carne sandwich, with steak, chimichurri, grilled peppers, and caramelized onions (nicknamed “carmies”) on ciabatta. My favorite cut of steak is a medium rare filet mignon, but I also love their ribeye. This time I ordered the sandwich again, along with one for my sister and the El Gaucho salad, which consists of greens, carrots, radish, grape tomatoes, grilled corn, and avocado dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We each added a Mexican cola as well.
After we got to our table, we immediately made a beeline for the sauces. To the side of the seating area, patrons can spoon out as much of the homemade sauces as they want: the choices are chimichurri, ajo-garlic, pimento-red pepper, and cebolla-onions. Personally, I enjoy the chimichurri and the pimento-red pepper, but they are all great to spread on the sandwich or dip steak into.
The sandwiches are delicious. There are many different ways to eat them, since they’re so big. Sometimes I cut it in half and slowly eat one small bite at a time. I’ve seen others cut up the steak and the bread and use a fork. Whatever the method, nothing takes away from the deliciously fired filet mignon, the powerful punch of the grilled peppers, and the sweet flavor of the caramelized onions.
This was the first time I tried one of Gaucho’s salad, and the El Gaucho did not disappoint. The vegetables were fresh, and the mix of carrots, radish, grilled corn, and avocado was refreshing. The dressings enhanced the flavors but didn’t overpower them.
With our enormous sandwiches and splitting the salad between us, neither my sister nor I could finish our food. We were completely stuffed and happy to bring them home for leftovers the next day. Not to mention, she loved everything.
I’ve been to Gaucho several times over the last couple years, and it has never disappointed. It was the first time I’d tried Argentinian food or had steak in a sandwich. The restaurant is unique, the people are always friendly, and it fits nearly all occasions. But most importantly, the food is amazing. Even if you don’t like steak, I would still recommend it. They have chicken, pork, burger, and vegetable sandwich options, as well as several different salad choices.
Since its opening in 2013, Gaucho has become a staple on must-try Pittsburgh restaurant lists. It’s easy to see (and taste) why.