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We've only tried one Argentinian restaurant so far (Pampas Argentine Grill) so when a groupon popped up for another, Puerto La Boca, I immediately picked it up. Puerto La Boca is located in Little Italy along the busy India Street but is pretty close to the I-5 Hawthorn exit. The groupon stated that a reservation was required so I called about 2 hours ahead to set up a table for 4. We were joined by two good friends.
Upon entering the restaurant, there's two dining areas, one to the left with a bar and piano area (pictured) and a dining area to the right. We were seated near the window in the regular dining area.
The first thing to come out was a complimentary appetizer with chimichurri, olives and butter, plus a sliced loaf of bread. The chimmichurri sauce was tasty though Dennis thought a little more spice would have made it better. The butter reminded us of Jack cheese but without the cheese taste, maybe because of all the stuff inside. Also this was more salty because of the mixins which may have included olives. The actual olives were just olives... but it was very nice to have so many options!
Empanadas seem to be a popular appetizer. From the outside you had no idea what filling you'd get! Cut open, and you can see the beef, chicken and a spinach/cheese mix that we ordered. The beef one totally tasted like a chimichanga to me because of the spices! The chicken one did seem to have a familiar taste but we could only describe it as super tender meat! The spinach was mixed with a thicker cheese which I liked. The shells on these were a soft doughy fried so weren't oily or anything. My favorite flavor turned out to be the chimichanga, err, I mean beef...
Our friends ordered the mushroom appetizer. The mushrooms were pretty small but at least made for a pleasant appetizer with its white white wine sauce and being light on the butter.
They also ordered the steak skirt with fries in the side. This is actually a half portion. The restaurant had split the plate ahead of time which made it easier for them portion-wise.
Then our meal came out. This is the Parrillada “El Conventillo” and it's meant to be shared by two people. That's a massive sized sampler! We saw it on the menu and pretty much ordered it without reading too much detail.
The first meat we tried was the flank steak piece, on the bottom to the right of the ribs. This piece was rare enough that it was a litle harder to bite through and cut. We kind of had crappy knives for cutting though which added a bit of difficulty. The next piece was skirt steak and was oh so much better! It had great texture and a sear on it and was flavorful! I told friends that they picked out a good steak. Then I tried the flap meat and it was a much fattier piece of meat, quite delicious and what I would call the ribeye piece of the plate. Oh gosh how the juices were all over the meats and kept them moist!
I put the rib piece on my plate and could hardly cut it with the crappy knives we were provided. Basically I couldn't eat this one because it was so chewy rare. Maybe leftovers would out better after additional cooking.
There was a very dark sausage on top. Any gueses on what it is? Apparently it's blood sausage. Remember how we didn't really read the menu description? So we were both a little hesitant but hubs went for it. It had a mushy texture like risotto because of how it was broken apart, plus some firmer parts that were supposedly the white fat and a somewhat salty nib. I ate the TINIEST piece ever but really couldn't tell too much about it. I had the leftovers later and decided it wasn't too bad afterall!
The other sausage was somewhat firm but did have a nice flavor for a leaner type of meat, possibly pork or chicken filling.
The chicken was grilled and cooked though, though a bit on the drier side. A similar marinade seemed to be on this meat as the beef portions.
These lighter pieces to the right were called sweetbreads but don't be fooled by the name... it's actually throat meat. To me it had a nice marinade with a texture almost a bit firmer than liver but the same kind of piece-like texture. Quite interesting.
That huge sampler also came with a side of fries with garlic, though the garlic was a bit subtle. These were just ok and left by the wayside as we tried more and more and more items on our massive pan of a plate!
While showing us the dessert menu, the waitress kept mentioning a dessert... with caramel. And this other one... with caramel! Supposedly that was Argentine style! So we picked out the tiramisu... with caramel! It was a very good cake and a great ending to our night.
We still enjoyed the food overall and the company of our friends but servicewise, our superfriendly waitress became very scarce at the end of the meal. We had to flag someone down from the bar area for both the check and paying for the bill. Hopefully they work on that!
Puerto La Boca
2060 India St
San Diego CA 92101