Miami Living Magazine

JoAnna Garcia Swisher

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Food A Steakhouse with a Latin American Beat El Churrasco brings South American fine dining to Brickell Words by Maureen Aimee Mariano Miami's attractions are as multicultural as its inhabitants. Take, for example, the restaurants that are Latin American in origin. They've each progressively made their mark in the Magic City, and Brickell's newest Argentine steakhouse concept attempts to do the same. Situated inside the relatively quiet Four Ambassadors (801 Brickell Bay Dr.), El Churrasco breathes life into the building with its lively South American twist to Brickell's current steakhouse scene with a medley of Latin influences – from its Argentinian-imported steaks and open-flame flare to its signature Spanish red wine and Colombian coffee. This is the first U.S. outpost for El Churrasco with three other locations in Spain. Don't worry. Guests don't need a passport to take a culinary journey through South America. Just navigate your way through the spacious restaurant, comprised of a bar area and larger-than-life dining room, and take in the warm, inviting ambiance of wooden tables, leather seats, panoramic views of the Biscayne Bay, Key Biscayne and downtown Miami, and paintings plastered on the wall. One painting is of a farm that belongs to the Martiarena family, who along with the Gil family, own and operate the El Churrasco brand. As you await your meal, you can relish in the rich scented wafts of Premium Aberdeen Angus beef – raised at Martiarena family's farms in South America – as they burn on open flames with coals directly imported from Argentina. Views of the chef busy at work in a semi- open kitchen make the wait for the first course all more enticing. Start off with a melt-in-your-mouth, paper-thin beef carpaccio ($17), lightly drizzled with citrus lemon vinaigrette, topped with fresh arugula, and sprinkled with capers and shaved Grana Padano cheese. The empanadas criolla ($10), cooked with veal or humita cheese inside, did not disappoint and were made just how Argentinian empanadas should be: golden with a crisp crust and tender, doughy inner texture. Like with any stellar steakhouse, the real showstoppers are the quality cuts of meat cooked to top-notch perfection. El Churrasco prides itself on an exemplary offering of prime South American Angus steaks, as well as USDA aged Angus steaks, both of which are pasture-raised and grass-fed. Cooked medium- well, the 20-ounce top sirloin steak ($34), arrived sizzling on a platter flanked by lightly roasted marble potatoes. It was as juicy and tender as the 20-ounce NY Strip Steak ($43), brought on a cutting board and carefully sliced by our friendly server. Just in case we wanted to cook our steak even further, a tiny table top charcoal burner was placed at our table for our convenience. The steak paired perfectly with El Churrasco's wine selection, hailing from the Gil family's vineyards in Rioja, Spain. We chose a bold, sweet-tasting red wine, the Tempranillo, for a superb complement to the smoky-sweet flavors of the meat. If your stomach allows, be sure to end your Argentine gastronomical adventure on a sugar high and experience El Churrasco's dessert menu. Aromatic bites of caramelized Argentinian dulce de leche crepes ($9) were rich but just the right amount of sweetness, while the caramel dulce de leche flan ($9) was creamy and smooth with a soft, silky texture. Savor it all – the diversity of scents and flavors of South America, the quality service, and welcoming ambiance – at this fine dining steakhouse. Although there's no shortage of steakhouses in Brickell, El Churrasco offers an experience unlike any other: It moves to a Latin American beat. ML El Churrasco is located at 801 Brickell Bay Dr Miami, FL 33131. For more information, visit:

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