It was a Tuesday night and I decided to take my wife out for dinner. We had heard about a really good Latin restaurant called Pachanga and decided to try it out. This place was a meat lover’s paradise where we were quickly transported from Dubai to and Argentina; full of gauchos, and open grills, and lots of great live Latin music.
I love Latin America. There is so much passion and the love of life as an integral part of the culture. It is vibrant. From Mexico, to Argentina, to Brazil to Cuba; this is something that Latin cultures shares across borders. This vibrancy is found in everything they do from the way they play music, dance, and in the food they eat.
Pachanga, in the heart of Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residences on the beach, has managed to capture this vibrancy and passion. This passion is shared nightly through their dishes from Latin America as well as the décor, friendliness of the staff, the entertainment and overall ambiance.
As we were escorted to our table, we knew that we were in for a special evening. There was a Cuban band playing and singing while couples stepped and twirled across the dance floor. The three women were fantastic and covered all of the Latin classics. As the tiempo escalated, more couples and friends danced the night away. It is a fun and exuberant restaurant and all the guests that night seemed to enjoy the evening.
Once we settled in, we found that our table had a perfect view of the band and dance area. Just to the side we noticed the flames and the chef in the open kitchen preparing various dishes. The waiters darted in zigzags across the restaurant, taking orders and bringing drinks and sizzling dishes, hot from the grill. The restaurant that night was full but not crowded and there were groups of ladies dressed to kill at tables as well as families and business travelers.
The menu was full and offered everything from meats to fish and poultry. Most Latin restaurants are Mexican, Argentine, or Brazilian and feature mainly the dishes from those countries. Pachanga was truly a LATIN restaurant and served the most well-loved dishes from all of Latin America. What pulled it all together is the passion for flavor and presentation by their talented Chef Matias Ayala. As expected, Ayala hails from Argentina and brings this authenticity to Pachanga. This chef masterfully combines gourmet preparation with traditional Latin American recipes and creates exquisite tastes and presentations in each dish.
My friendly waiter brought the salsa, guacamole and chips that went very well with my Mojito. With the fresh mint and brown sugar, the mojito could have come from any bar in Havana.
Having lived in Central America, I know that each country’s pride is tied to their ceviche. Ceviche is raw fish, cured with lemon and then herbs, onions and other flavors are added. Some counties use only fish. Panama makes one of my favorites with a variety of shellfish. Pachanga did the tradition proud with their Salmon Ceviche with roasted sweet potato and apples. What I liked about the dish is that it was memorable. They took a traditional Latin dish and made it all the more special.
For me, choosing the main course was relatively easy. Any other time choosing between the Peruvian King Crab, the Argentine T-bones and rib eyes, Patagonian Toothfish versus the braised beef short ribs or braised lamb shoulder would have given me a brain freeze. Today my choice was clear. I went with the Churrasco and was I ever glad.
For those unfamiliar, Chrarraco is the Argentine and Brazilian way of cooking meat out on the ranch. So it is a simple way of cooking the finest meat without a lot of fancy do dads. I sat there and salivated while watching the waiters dash between tables and then escapes to retrieve more goodness from the grill. One of the gaucho-waiters was soon at my table and I found myself at the end of his sword. The gaucho asked if was ready then proceeded carve the juicy meat selections from his sword/spit at my table.
Pachanga’s Churrasco is a wide variety of the best cuts of meat marinated and served, literally, hot off the grill. First up was the fradinha or thin flank steak infused with rosemary. It was followed by the picanha or beef steak marinated in the spicy Chimichurri sauce. The ever so flavorful meats competed with sides of sautéed mushrooms, grilled vegetable, or roasted grilled potatoes. Next was the Ojo de bife or Rib Eye with mustard and lemon. As if that wasn’t enough, next was the chicken breast immersed with pineapple and roasted garlic. Mercifully the lamb marinated with thyme and cinnamon was the final meat dish.
For postre , we had the Dos Amigos which was chocolate delights from Latin America with mousse, dulche de leche and ice cream. A sweet ending, no doubt.
The restaurant manager Luis Serol came by to check on us to see how we were enjoying our evening -not just our meal. He told us that Pachanga means to party and enjoy ones self. The restaurant concept is to enjoy the night along with the meal He invited me back and suggested that I try one of their many themed nights from Friday Salsa Night, Wednesday Night Milonga Tango, to Thursday Capoeira nights. He shared that all the themed nights are festive and have free dance lessons for the novice. The friendliness and professionalism of everyone at Pachanga from the hostess to the waiters, to the chefs are a reflection of training and leadership provided by Serol.
After letting our food settle a bit, we decided to try out the dance floor and to burn off some of the extra calories we not doubt took in. By this time the tiempo of the music picked up as Celia Cruz competed with Gloria Estephan as performed by the band. The band was really talented and kept us along with the other 30, 40, and 50 somethings dancing until the late hours of the night. The great music of the lband playing Salsa, Pachata, and Meregue was ultimately the final course of the evening.
This was not just a meal. It was a feast complete with a great ambiance, music, and libations. It was all we could ask for with a lot of unexpected surprises.
Dinner out should be special. After all, its not just eating; its dinner and it should be a special occasion and experience. That’s just what we had at Pachanga; a night experiencing the best of Latin America in the heard of the Dubai’s Jumierach Beach.
For additional information, video and more photos visit the review on Arabia Escapes