El Gaucho Inca – Awesomely good – and they know it! (Fort Myers, Florida)

We ‘googled’ Best Seafood in Fort Myers – and the top restaurant according to Urbanspoon, Yelp – and Tripadvisor was a place called ‘El Gaucho Inca’. Interesting – the best restaurant isn’t a chain, it isn’t fancy, it isn’t expensive, it isn’t even well located. Sounds like my kind of place.

So we called to make reservations – and got told – we don’t take reservations after asking our name and phone number. Is that odd or what? But at least that meant we didn’t have to rush off the beach to get there. And given the distance from the beach (an over 35 minute drive) – that totally worked.

Location – it’s in a strip mall (no surprise there) – in what can be kindly called a residential area. Personally – I think it’s in the sticks – but you can call it what you want – this is not downtown. The current space is tiny – seating for just over 100 people – max. But the super friendly Peruvian waitress told us that they are moving in just 2 weeks to a larger location in the same strip mall – doubling their seating capacity to over 200.

Just a thought on this plan – can the chef keep up with twice as many diners? I’m thinking not without help from at least a couple of sous-chefs. Which will make for a different dining experience. Just a mutter there.

Our dinner was very very good. As other reviewers have said – the dipping sauce for the bread – a startling green – was positively yummy. We cleaned the bowl – and would have licked it if we’d been at home.

For appetizers we ordered the Conchitas a la Parmesan – it was amazingly good. Perfectly cooked Scallops served on the half shell with a three cheese melt on top. I ate every bite. I never eat every bit – just saying. My husband’s appetizer, while way too large – was equally delicious. It was the Ceviche del Inca – a trio of Ceviche – fish, shrimp and squid. He was offered a choice of spice level – and opted for medium. Plenty spicy for me I’ll tell you. I loved the fish ceviche – liked the shrimp version, and thought the squid was a tad on the chewy side. But the amount of flavor packed into each bowl was memorable. I really loved the two types of corn used as ‘decoration’. Surrounding the bowls were crispy corn nuts, and stuck on toothpicks were Latino corn nibblets that had been steamed. Definitely a winner – but reminder to self – next time just stick to the Fish Ceviche – less money and the better bet,

For main courses – I thought mine was far better than my husbands – and his was very good. When I was in Argentina several years ago – a butcher explained how they cut their meat – starting with a side of beef. I mention this because they use a completely different system, and the cutting changes the way the meat tastes. I ordered the ‘beef ribs’ after the waitress explained that the chef gets his meat flown in from Argentina. That meant that the cut would be the traditional one – and it was. And it was delicious. So unique.

My husband had the Pescado a lo Macho. At $16.99 – his one complaint was that the portion was too large. The poached fish was in a sauce very similar to that of butter chicken with lots of tomato and cream. There were mounds of shrimp and squid on top of the fish along with 3 delicious black mussels. For a starch, they added plain white rice. He ordered a side of pan-fried sweet plantains that were the best I’ve tasted in a long time.

For dessert we got the Peruvian Fruit cake – which other reviewers have loved, but I thought was overly sweet. I also ordered one of their Peruvian style cookies – which i adored. It was very similar to the Christmas Crescent Cookies our German friend used to make, a soft dough with a filling of dulce de leche and covered with powdered white sugar. A completely delicious way to end a very yummy meal.

El Gaucho Inca on Urbanspoon

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