By Meredith Burow
Argentinian steakhouse Asador Patagonia brings an authentic taste of South America to the western communities.
“We wanted to try something different,” said owner Natalia Ayala, explaining why she and her husband, Juan, left Argentina and moved to the United States nearly two decades ago.
Eighteen years, two children, a restaurant and tiki bar later, and “different” is still the family’s mantra.
Bringing a taste of their home country to central Palm Beach County, the couple opened Asador Patagonia, a restaurant nestled quietly in the Royal Inn Hotel plaza at the northwest corner of Royal Palm Beach and Southern boulevards, about 10 years ago. The establishment includes a large dining area, a private events space, an indoor bar, an outdoor tiki hut and a patio overlooking the lake.
The Ayalas wear many hats at the restaurant, cooking, cleaning, managing and serving. It’s a big job, but it is a dream that became a reality.
“You think of something, and God gives you the resources,” Ayala said. “We don’t know exactly why, but it happened.”
But what makes it so different? Unlike other restaurants, Asador Patagonia implements a traditional, Argentinian grilling method: charcoal.
While a typical cooking technique in the food service industry elicits a gas grill, the Ayalas wanted the community to enjoy the rich, unique flavor brought out when grilling with charcoal. Prior to being seared on the grill, the meat is flavored with salt alone, and according to customer reviews, it does not disappoint.
“Nobody knows about Argentinian food, and it’s a different kind of food. At a lot of restaurants, it’s all the same,” Ayala said. “Argentinian food is so different — it’s a lot of meat, but we cook the meat on the charcoal. That’s the difference. It’s a different steak house.”
Hailed by some as “the best Argentinian steakhouse in Florida,” Asador Patagonia is known for both its great food and excellent customer service. Its menu is a collection of meat choices for the asado, the term used for a traditional Argentinian barbecue.
Guests can choose from a traditional Argentinian Grill, including flank steak, skirt steak, short ribs, chicken, sausage and more, or choose their own meat selection from a variety of steaks, as well as filet mignon, chicken and shrimp skewers. There’s also an array of appetizers and side dishes.
Aside from the grilled meats, there’s also a wide array of traditional Argentinian appetizers and side dishes. Argentinian cuisine is uniquely South American, but also has strong influences of European cuisine, especially Spanish and Italian. This creates unique flavors with an emphasis on meat dishes.
If the food alone wasn’t enough to attract patrons, the weekend live music, lakeside view and laidback atmosphere helps to keep the customers coming back.
“It’s always a really nice spot just to hang out,” said Nicole Elizabeth as she sat under the shady tiki bar on the back patio. “Everyone’s always very nice and welcoming.”
First-time guests Syd and Arlene Zudekoff enjoyed their experience eating out on the patio. The couple had been to the location about 15 years ago, before the space became Asador Patagonia. “We knew that the view was nice, and we knew this area was nice, and we’re looking for different places to go,” Syd explained.
They enjoyed the experience and plan to return with others. “It’s a lovely local restaurant,” Arlene said.
The Ayalas have worked hard to cultivate the relaxing environment. Ayala even recalled with amusement a time when they first opened the restaurant, and their two boys, Matias and Lorenzo, were still very young.
“Lorenzo grew up in the restaurant, and sometimes they’d go to the table and take bread, and take the food for the customers, also,” she said. “They’d run through all the restaurant.”
Fortunately, the customers were amused, too.
Like the children, Asador Patagonia knows how to have fun. With a capacity for 250 people, guests can reserve the space for weddings, birthday parties and more. That being said, patrons wishing to use the space cannot bring in outside catering and must use the restaurant’s food and drinks only.
Karaoke lovers can also show up and show off on weekend nights. Customers are encouraged to reserve seats beforehand, however, as these tend to be the busiest times at Asador Patagonia.
Asador Patagonia is located at 675 Royal Palm Beach Blvd. It is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, noon to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, visit www.asadorpatagoniawpb.com or call (561) 651-9477.