El Paso has Juarez to thank for the arrival of Argentinean food, which is where the Brandi family, from Buenos Aires, first opened El Cuartito Azul in 2001. Six years later, the Westside location – literally, a little blue room – opened, and this year completed an Eastside addition at the former location of Jando’s Italian Cuisine. As small as the west location may be (dinner reservations are recommended), the menu is anything but, offering salads, soups, sandwiches, chicken, seafood, steaks and pasta.
Complimentary warm bread with marinated white beans and olives are brought to your table, but you’ll still want to order appetizers. Flaky, fried empanadas (beef, spinach, corn, chicken, ham or cheese) served with chimichurri sauce are a must and can be ordered individually or in orders of four and six. Also on the appetizer menu are grilled provolone, mollejas (veal sweetbreads marinated in lemon and white wine) and chistorra, a fried, fast-cure sausage made with pork and beef from Aragón, Spain.
Marinated steaks are flavorful and are grilled or breaded and fried, milanesa style. Don’t mistake chorizo for sausage; at Cuartito, the bife de chorizo is a T-bone or New York strip steak. Swiss supreme is a breaded chicken breast smothered in Alfredo sauce and topped with ham and melted mozzarella. Most dishes are accompanied by goat cheese croquettes, fries, mashed potatoes, mushrooms in red wine, potato salad or steamed vegetables. Argentine cuisine is meat-heavy, but Cuartito also offers pasta dishes of ravioli and gnocchi served with your choice of sauces: pesto, alfredo, bolognese and tuco, a traditional red sauce prepared with red wine, onions, garlic, peppers and basil.
All three cozy locations offer affordable Argentine cuisine, along with beer and wine and a variety of desserts, including alfajores, South America’s favorite cookie. Don’t miss their lunch specials, happy hour and live music.