Loyal fans of Carlitos Gardel would prefer we keep this neighborhood gem a secret. For the last 12 years, meat lovers and Argentinean expats have filled the Melrose spot for steaks, great wines and fabulous service. Now we're letting the chimichurri out of the jar.
The room is rather timeless: Topiaries with twinkle lights, linen-topped tables and black-and-white photos on the walls add a cozy, comfortable feel. The Bozoghlian family, who oversee the kitchen (mother Azniv) and dining room (sons Max and Gerard), might even serenade the crowd alongside the pianist on weekend nights.
From the menu, stick with the Argentinean specialties. Start with crisp beef or spinach empanadas ($3) with a hefty shot of vinegary chimichurri. Steaks are prime organic Oregon beef, perfectly charred and served best medium rare. We like the "ojo," a 14-ounce rib eye ($38) and the flavorful skirt steak ($27), but the wonderfully tender lamb chops ($36) are a nice alternative. Do not miss the addictive thin crisp fries covered in fresh parsley and tons of garlic ($7). Wash it all down with a hearty malbec while you wonder how you've missed this great find for so long.
Carlitos Gardel, 7963 Melrose Ave., Mid-City; 323-655-0891 or carlitosgardel.com