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Carlitos Gardel Argentine Steakhouse on Melrose Avenue

For several years my tour business TOURific Escapes was proud to be THE top-rated activity in Los Angeles on the respected travel review site, Trip Advisor.  Many tour guests would mention they booked our Hollywood Sites & Bites Tour because we held that top spot.  They would also book The Magic Castle Hotel for the same reason.  It never dawned on me to check Trip Advisor for LA’s top-rated restaurants since I primarily rely on Trip Advisor for hotels and activities.  Then some guests mentioned they were having dinner at Carlitos Gardel on Melrose Avenue after a Trip Advisor search called them as one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles.  Carlito who?  I couldn’t believe that it was located right on our tour route on Melrose Avenue and I had never heard of them before.  For shame.  They are only open for lunch on Friday afternoons which meant that we wouldn’t be able to add them as a tasting stop but I was determined to get in and try their Argentine cuisine asap.  Well asap ended up taking me over two years!

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I had mentioned my intent on paying a visit to Carlitos Gardel to my good pals and fellow foodie researchers Angela and Allen.  We were able to find one Friday in late February that we were all available, and walked in the door.  We were greeted warmly by Max, who was not only the host but our head waiter, proudly representing his family’s business.  He took his time going over menu items, made some suggestions and we were off.  I don’t know if you’ve ever enjoyed Argentine cuisine but for me one of the highlights is enjoying warm, crusty bread dipped in chimichurri sauce.  A few other appetizers got us started before the meat entrees arrived.  This is a steakhouse after all, so we each ordered a different type of steak.  My pals got Rib Eye cap and Filet Mignon and I opted for a smaller Skirt Steak.  You can see here it was served with a unique mashed potato made of sweet potatoes.  Because we had heard so much about the Garlic Fries, we had to get an order.  You can see them piled high in the right corner of the photo here.

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I was first introduced to the flavor sensation dulce de leche in South America back in 2000 during my travels with Princess Cruises.  Since that time I enjoy it almost as much as I do chocolate.  So when Max came out with the dessert plate, we went a little crazy for his mom’s homemade dulce de leche pastries.  Yes we shared all three of these beauties AND dulce de leche ice cream to boot!  Let’s just say that was my only meal of the day.  This was a very special experience, made even more interesting by a private wine tasting that was taking place near our table.  While Carlitos Gardel is no longer the top-rated restaurant on Trip Advisor, they are still most worthy of a visit.  It’s not inexpensive, but for the quality food and impeccable service you will receive, in my opinion worth every dollar spent!  And by the way, Carlito?  He was a singer, actor AND the most prominent figure in the history of tango!

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