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Photo by Matt OttoPriorities are priorities for Argentine immigrants, so when Carlos Patti, Abel García and Antonio Ferrari opened El Gaucho Meat Market #2 in January, they installed four televisions throughout their tiny Anaheim store. It was a business tactic, the only way to ensure fellow expats would ignore their daily afternoon tea of soccer matches beamed directly from the motherland and shop. And the ploy works: El Gaucho is more rowdy sports bar than humble produce store after 5 p.m., customers taking time between purchasing a jug of fruity Torrontés wine and sweet Uruguayan crackers to shout support at whichever TV is broadcasting their hometown soccer squad.
847 S. State College Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92806
Like its decade-old predecessor in Redondo Beach, El Gaucho is a geographical warp, a reproduction of Argentina occupying a hectic stretch of State College Boulevard. Unsurprisingly, El Gaucho Meat Market specializes in preparing meats only someone with the pampas in their heart could truly savor. A chilly counter houses idiosyncratic and varied cuts, textures and tastes—mushy morcilla, wet with blood; glistening, buttery mollejas (sweetbreads); and nalga (ass), a tough, salty muscle mass by the mustachioed cleaver.
You don't need to worship the Newell's Old Boys football club to enjoy the pristine deli connected perpendicularly to the market. Lovers of Italian heroes will be familiar with the sandwiches stuffed by the El Gaucho staff—bricks of bread buckling beneath stories of tomato, lettuce, onions and a gooey, mayonnaisey sauce drizzled throughout each layer. Meat selections like ham and breaded chicken are also Italian in nature. But the most filling selection is the uniquely Argentine matambre. A contraction of the phrase "mata hambre" (it kills hunger), a matambre slice touches on all surgeon general-recommended nutritional requirements: squished hard-boiled eggs, pickled carrots, creamy cheese and spiced onion shards, all within a lean, tender cut from the underside of a cow's belly. All meats come served in portions so ample the meat hanging out of your sandwich is enough for another sandwich.
El Gaucho also makes and sells empanadas, steaming fist-sized triangular pies with a flaky crust straining to hold its meaty interior. Remember that Argentines consume meat like the rest of us breathe air—they are the Texans of the southern hemisphere—so the only vegetarian selections are a leafy spinach-and-cheese combo and humita, corn mush spiced enough to make noses sweaty and as complex as the Boca Juniors offensive side the patrons are cheering for late into the afternoon.El Gaucho Meat Market #2, 847 S. State College Blvd., Anaheim, (714) 776-6400.
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