With expats from around the world looking for a slice of the enormous tourism pie in Tamarindo, it is no wonder that the bustling beach town features one of the most diverse – and high quality – lists of restaurants in Costa Rica.
On the scene for several years now is Argentinean Mauro Camera, who opened Bamboo Sushi Club in 2009. The successful owner returned to his roots this December with an Argentinean-style steak house just down the street.
The new restaurant, Patagonia, looks something like a mountain cabin, and the cozy, wood-laden space was packed on a recent Saturday night. Facing a line out the door and nearly a two-hour wait, we decided to walk half a block up the road to Camera’s first restaurant for appetizers.
A Tamarindo standby, Bamboo Sushi Club is a Japanese garden hideaway with an impressive list of sushi and starters. In preparation for the heavy meat dishes to come, we chose some lighter fish plates, mahi mahi tiradito and the tuna tatake.
The well-seasoned, raw mahi mahi was citrusy, peppery and delicious, but the tuna tatake stole the show. Perfectly cooked with a raw, red center, the tuna’s texture was nothing short of mind blowing. The tender and flavorful middle was balanced out by a “spicy, crunchy garlic sauce” that had me picking scraps off the plate long after the tuna was gone.
When it came time for our reservation at Patagonia we somewhat regretfully pulled ourselves away from the alluring sushi rolls on the menu at Bamboo and marched on to the main dish.
It was here, in a corner table at Patagonia, that my wildest parrilla fantasies came true. We ordered the mixed grill for two, but the heaping pile of meat on a smoking portable hob, and it could have easily been the mixed grill for 10. As if the steak, chicken, pork, sausage, blood sausage and sweetbreads weren’t enough, the meal also came with a basket of bread, a large bowl of salad and, in true Argentinean fashion, a plate of thick-cut fries.
The salad was scant on variety, consisting only of a few small tomatoes and onion slices. I mostly ignored it in favor of the starchy fries and the flawlessly cooked meat.
As for the meat, our steak was tender and each effortless bite was delightfully juicy; the pork and chicken were equally savory. Stacked in the middle of the rack the thinly cut neck meat, or sweetbreads, added a contrasting crunch, along with smoky flavor, to the grill. The sausages rounded out the medley with a spicy chorizo and a heavy, creamy blood sausage.
Between the appetizers, meat and several heaping glasses of a smooth Mendoza Malbec, there was no room for dessert. We boxed up the remaining meat (which made for a nice lunch the next day) and headed back to our hotel with swollen, content bellies.
It seems fair to say that Camera has done it again.