Grill Argentino Tehuelche Ctra. de Benahvís KM 1,5 Estepona Hours: 19-23 Monday through Saturday Tel: 952 883 742 http://tehuelche.net Food: Focused on Argentinian style barbecued meat. Drinks: Good mix of Argentinian, and Spanish wines, well stocked bar. Ambiance: Cosy, familiar but still stylish setting. Accessible: Yes. Vegetarian: Yes, two main courses. The bill: €101 (1 starter to share, two mains, 1 large bottle of still water and one bottle of wine). Plus The meat, friendly service and value for money. Minus Structure in the dining room, monotone menu, no true on-line booking.
In an unexpected location on the Ctra. de Benahvís, 1,5km from the highway towards Benahavís you find Tehuelche, easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. This restaurant most likely has no random drop in customers, but still you are most likely to need a reservation to secure a table.
The name Tehuelche is borrowed from the Patagonia-native nomadic hunters who occupied southern Chile and Argentina. The family owned restaurant has been in business since 2002 and according to their website their cuisine reflects the fusion of European cultures that emigrated to Argentina, together with the local gaucho tradition of cooking meat over live coals.
The main part of the restaurant is the dining room, just inside is a bar area with comfortable seating. In the summer there is a terrace overlooking La Concha mountain, however, since earlier visits, we have noticed that the terrace can easily be a bit chilly.
As arrival by any other means than by car is out of the question, you step off the parking lot, past the grill kitchen and a small (smoker’s) outside sitting area straight into the dining room. The grill staff wave welcoming as the Concierge Team (for the evening consisting of two people) walks inside where we are greeted by the hostess. The reservation is quickly found and we are given the option to first visit the bar or go straight to the table. Although we have reserved an inside table, we are also offered the option to sit outside.
We choose to proceed straight to the table and decline any aperitif. The dining room is almost full, but our table is ready and elegant. The remaining tables are filled within minutes. There are all sorts of people in attendance in both larger and smaller groups. The mix of tables can at times feel a bit unstructured in the rather small room. This may be something the staff would like to focus on when planning the setting each night.
We are quickly handed the menu and the wine list. The wine list, if not very big, has a nice variety of mainly Argentinian and Spanish wines, mostly moderately priced, even with some real bargains. We especially enjoy the selection of local wines from Ronda and settle on a Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot ‘Doble Doce 2012’ from Bodega Doña Felísa (€26). It proves to be a good choice that stands up well to the food to come.
The variety in the menu is found in the ‘Starters section’. Among the 17 cold and hot starters, there are several creative suggestions. For the evening as the Concierge Team focuses on the meat we choose to only share a garlic bread (€4,50). The garlic bread arrives after a short wait and is easily large enough for two. It has plenty of garlic, soft inside and a crusty surface.
The main courses are divided into two sections with the focus on the barbecued meat. The selection is good and most people should be able to find a cut and type of meat (including kangaroo) in their taste. My company chooses the ‘Argentinian Tenderloin 250gr’ (€27) and I go for the ‘Entrecot Steak 300gr’ (€21).
The friendly staff fills the wine on cue and after just enough wait the mains arrive, simple but beautiful with the meat in focus. Included is a side of three Argentinian sauces and we have added a side of french fries to share (€3,50). Both orders are cooked to order and exactly as we expected. The meat is definitely of high quality and leaves nothing to wish for. The large servings are almost hard to finish and although not having any real starters, there is no room for deserts even if the dessert menu looks lovely offering six homemade alternatives.
Instead, we take our time to finish our wine, never feeling rushed by the staff. Although the restaurant is full the small staff manages to keep a friendly attitude and make you feel that you have their attention at all times during the evening.
100 minutes after arriving, we take our leave and are warmly welcomed back by the hostess, walking to the parking lot the grill staff again wave friendly.
Overall, we have gotten just the premium steak experience we wanted. There is no shortage of restaurants in the Marbella area that try to offer this, but not many, if any, reaches this level. On top of this at a price slightly lower than some of the more centrally located tourist traps. Having said that, the focus is on the meat, and even if we didn’t try any of the three fish dishes or two vegetarian choices this time, we believe it is for the meat this place has become very popular.