Rua Artur de Azevedo, 906
Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil
El Guatón was our first foray into Chilean food, and we had to go all the way to Brazil to do it! One of the world’s great foodie cities, São Paulo is known for its range of restaurants. We were excited (but not really surprised) to find a Chilean restaurant among its ranks of eateries. We heard good things about El Guatón, and looking at their menu online we noticed some similarities with both Peruvian and Argentine restaurants that we had visited before. We were on board!
El Guatón is cute and cozy with red-tablecloths, and a little patio out front. Unfortunately, we arrived on a chilly day, so everyone chose to stay warm inside. We got a small table in the back, which – at the risk of stereotyping Brazilian restaurants – means you will never be served. But the service was prompt and courteous, and even more surprising for Brazil, there was a basket of food placed on our table for zero charge. In the land of couverts, this was a nice change! El Guatón also features an extensive wine list,featuring many Chilean varieties. There is even a bottle of the house red put on the table, and most people do seem to take advantage of it.
One of the most popular items on the menu, according to reviews, are the empanadas (in Spanish) or empadas (in Portuguese), terms basically referring to the same sort of delicious carb filled with meat or cheese. The cost was a reasonable at R$6 for baked and R$8.50 for fried. We ordered a baked cheese, and fried shrimp. The baked empanada was slightly smaller and a had a lighter taste, perhaps it would be good for the “health-conscious” empanada lover (if such a person exists). The fried variety was seemingly twice as big and came out piping hot, with a tender crust and nice oozy cheese. They definitely made both of these varieties to order – and it showed. YUM!
Beyond empanadas there were a variety of meat and seafood dishes including picanha, fried fish, ceviche and humitas (Chilean tamales). Matt is a major fan of ceviche, and after our successful ceviche meal in Rio at Cevicheria Carioca (review forthcoming!), he wanted another hit. The ceviche at El Guatón was only R$53 for fish ceviche for two. It is plenty large enough for two people, and in many ways simpler and subtler than many of the Peruvian ceviches with which he, and many readers, may be more familiar. This ceviche was simple: just white fish, lime juice, diced white onions, and cilantro – a combination that resulted in a rather tame tiger milk, but still mixed and effectively presented all the great flavors.
We were also surprised to find lúcuma on the menu. A fruit native to mountain valleys in the Andes, Matt grew to love its sweet potato / maple / nutty flavor while living in Peru. El Guatón featured a lúcuma cake (R$13), which was very tasty, but essentially just a puff-ball of whipped cream on a very thin crust. It needed a little more substance (and definitely a little more lúcuma).
We had a great meal at El Guatón and we wish there were more Chilean places around. We love it almost as much as Peruvian food! Maybe someday we will be back, until then we’ll have to scour for another Chilean eatery. Is there a Chilean restaurant in your neck of the woods?