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Gauchos Steakhouse opening in Portland

The old Portland's/Oolong restaurant is going to be Gauchos Brazilian Steakhouse.
I read some other reviews of the Manchester location on here and they didn't sound very
good. So it's a one price all you can eat type of deal? Is it worth even trying when it opens?

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  1. Gauchos is doomed by going into that location. Give it a year or two and they'll be out.

    1. Don't concept/mini chain restaurants belong out at the mall?
      ....is this what people go to the Old Port for?

      3 Replies
      1. re: joss2

        To be honest, I think the downtown/old port area actually needs a few concept/chain restaurants. It's not my thing, but there is a lack of fun family places down here. There are also many people in Portland and surrounding towns that never come intown to eat and only go to the mall area. That doesn't mean I want to see a string of Olive Gardens on Commercial street, but a little more variety wouldn't hurt. Gauchos only has that one other place I believe.

        What we needed was exactly what we lost when the city had the formula business ban in effect for a few months. The Keg Steakhouse was ready to sign a lease in the new addition behind where Old Port Sea Grill is. They ended up pulling out and although they can legally go there now, I guess we scared them away. That would have been a huge modern restaurant and we have nothing down here now that could be compared to it.

        I love the 555's and the Vignola's, but there is a serious lack of places to bring your family who might not be into the whole Old Port scheme of restaurants. I live down here so I know how snobby we can be when it comes to our food.

        1. re: grittys457

          What about Flatbread, Norm's (in all its incarnations), O'Naturals, the ethnic places? I guess I don't know what you mean by "fun family places" if those spots don't qualify.

          1. re: sopobungalow

            I agree. Flatbread is a chain. So is O'naturals. Three Norm's to choose from. RiRa is a chain as well. T.G.I.F. was downtown but moved out to the mall. I don't want to see any chain restaurants downtown. Plenty to choose from for families. You can take a family out early to dinner at any of those places and even to Sebago/ Gritty's, before the drinking crowds arrive. Families avoid downtown because of the stigma of drinking and kids, and would rather enjoy the consistency of chain restaurants by the mall. People enjoy the less innovative, consistent dishes that chains produce. Just don't do it in the Old Port.

      2. To be brutally honest, I cannot stand Gauchos in Manchester. The service totally stinks, the food is sub-par (sorry, but filet mignon is not supposed to have the same consistency of a tire) and often not available. I cannot tell you what any other Gauchos is like, but the one I visited as always been a huge disappointment.

        1 Reply
        1. re: gryphonskeeper

          I'll second this. I rather liked Gauchos when it opened, and when it moved to Lowell St, but since then the quality has declined precipitously. Last time I went, the place was nearly empty, the food mediocre, and the service disinterested. I've already placed this

          So it's obvious they can't manage a single restaurant, and they want to open another?

          (This is all assuming that this is the same owner, the name Gaucho's is pretty generic for a churrascaria)

        2. Interesting choice to bring a steakhouse to the Old Port. Doesn't seem to be much demand for this type of out-of-date food concept in this foodie town. (Portland's steakhouse didn't last, nobody seems to go to the Regency steakhouse and F. Parker Reidy's has been replaced by O'Natural's). Good luck to them. Hopefully they serve interesting drinks!

          7 Replies
          1. re: CandyGirl13

            if it's the same type of place as Gauchos in Manchester NH then it's a Brazillian Rodizio, not a steak house per se. and as rodizios go, Gauchos is the worst imo.

            1. re: ScubaSteve

              It is the exact same one as the one in Manchester. This link is on the window on Commerical st.


              1. re: grittys457

                It will probably be good for a while, and then they'll start cutting corners. Portland is a much more touristy town than Manchvegas and the restaurant will probably be a huge hit with transients.

              2. re: ScubaSteve

                I agree with Scuba Steve: I think it's important to distinguish between an American "Steak House" and a Brasilian Rodizio so that people have an accurate level of expectations for this Gaucho's place.

                Churrascarias are big grills that have a dozen or so cuts of meat on long spits pretty much right on top of the fire - similar cuts on each. They are heavily salted and typically rare in the middle with a crusty char on the outside. You have waiters travel the tables with spits of, say, tenderloin, rump, chicken or sausage, stopping at those with a flag up ready to slice off portions to willing diners. Once everyone has enough of a pile on their plate, you put your flag down, and no-one bothers you. Ready for more? Flag up, please. You pay a fixed price for the whole night - desserts, drinks and tip are extra.

                When I lived in Brasil, these places were a lot of fun. The Pit-masters were wizards, too. I have noted with amusement that the translation to these shores has seen mixed results. The best I've had is down in Ironbound, in Newark New Jersey. The local Brasilians want it authentic. I've never been to Manchester 's Gauchos but you better believe I'm going to stay on top of the Portland Gauchos because Brasilian Churrasco is some of the world's best and I don't want any half-baked immitation to ruin Brasils good reputation

                1. re: johnnydj

                  the Manchester Gauchos s-s-s-sucks.
                  no hot buffet, no hearts of palm, no lamb or goat, no chicken hearts (or any other offal), no Fejoida (they didn't even know what it was).
                  they promote that they have 17 different kinds of meat but it's really only 3-4 (beef, chicken, sausage, pork) offered in several cuts.

                  1. re: ScubaSteve

                    I am in TOTAL agreement! The last time I went was the LAST time I will go. Not only was the meat tasteless and overcooked, but they constantly thrust the chicken legs and pork sausage at you, the Salmon and Lamb they said they had were nowhere to be found. I had to ask 4 times for my wine (which never arrived, but was on the bill) and we never had our waters refilled.

                    Sorry, but that place is the epitome of bad dining. Manchester Buffet has prime rib, crab legs, and steamed clams for a mere $10, why would I pay $24 for overcooked chicken legs?

                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                      Yechhh - that sounds terrible... really, really terrible.
                      I can see them shy away from goat except the local halal places seem to be awash in it. I don't see the point in serving salmon. No hearts of palm? No feijoada??? Overcooking?? This has the making of a total disaster. Those bastards better step up to the plate or that November '09 death knell prediction stands tall. Sheesh... better go the first month and hope for the best - then it's off to Ironbound again.

            2. What's happening here? I haven't seen a lot of action while driving by and the month is almost half over.

              Anyone pressed their nose to those windows and seen anything?

              1. We keep hearing that Manchester is so bad......
                Meanwhile, here in Sarasota, we have two Outbacks (one on each end of town) and one is excellent and the other is awful..... Must be the managers. Lets hope they install a great manager in Portland and that will be the difference.......................

                3 Replies
                1. re: irwin

                  but if they are implementing the same business plan there is only so much they can do.

                  1. re: ScubaSteve

                    I am with you on this one. Gauchos is not was it was, they do NOT serve the quality meats you would expect, instead they overload you with cheap cuts and rarely and I mean RARELY bring out anything of quality. Even if they did serve just sirloin and mignon, the amount they give you per cut (about 1/2 ounce) are a joke. They will give you an entire chicken leg, or 4 oz sausage, but the lamb, and salmon they give you a quarter sized piece!

                  2. re: irwin

                    The problem with Gauchos is that the owner is not a restaurantuer nor is he Brazilian. He is a nice guy and good at his primary business (cleaning commercial office buildings) but he is all aboiut the bottom line and not concerned with quality contol. He also owns a couple of coffee shops downtown as well as a taqueria so I think he is spread a little thin. Gauchos in Manchester did well for a while when the concept was new here, it just has not maintained the quality.

                  3. I think this effort has crashed. I saw a FOR LEASE sign back up in the window the other day.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Dual

                      In full disclosure, I am a recently hired employee of Gauchos in Portland. My only comments are factual replies to errors recently posted. The Manchester location (as will Portland) does indeed serve both lamb and chicken hearts. And the Commercial St. location will be open very soon.

                      1. re: upbeat

                        well upbeat...
                        in full "disclosure" as a FORMER CUSTOMER I can tell you they do serve Lamb... but you have to pull teeth to get it, and I am not going to beg a restro to serve me what it promises when they have the nerve to charge $28 pp and have fake bacon bits in the salad bar.

                        Very low class.

                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                          IMHO the gauchos in manch is not as terrible as some would have you believe...I have been twice, once with a large group and once with just my wife. The cold buffet is nothing to write home about, but the amount of meat is incredible. We were offered chicken hearts, lamb, salmon w/ dill cream, and all the other meats.....no shortage of choices...the only issue is that you must like your beef/lamb rare.....great for me, but not everyone in my group .....

                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                            Every time I dined at Gauchos, I was served lamb without asking. I've always had to ask for chicken hearts. I don't go anymore, because the last 2 times I went I found the quality to have slipped from good/mediocre to just plain bad.

                          2. re: upbeat

                            I think the confustion with the "for lease" sign is that Dual didn't see the smaller Leased sign over that.

                            I haven't been to the building in it's last two forms but I always thought it looked like a good spot. Upbeat, are they going to go for a bar/lounge crowd too or will that just be a waiting area for the restaurant?

                        2. I love Gauchos. I think it's great. It's usually where I pick for my birthday dinner. I'm not sure what people are talking about with lamb and chicken hearts -- I have had both of them there. I think you have to request the chicken hearts, though, since so many people have no interest in them they aren't out on the floor as much. I have always had good service there, too.

                          1. I hope they haven't opened yet because I drove by at 9 last night and there was not one person at a table. I just don't see how they or anybody else can make it in that spot.

                            1. Has anyone been to try it out? I'm awaiting further reports after all these comments.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: CandyGirl13

                                I dined at Gaucho's recently and found it to be pretty bad. I don't think the concept lends itself to the Old Port. I don't think of salad bar and the Old Port in the same sentence. Maybe at the mall it might work, but the $27.95 per person is probably too high for that market as well.
                                They certainly do offer a lot of variety. We had pork loin, chicken, bacon wrapped turkey, chirizo, bacon wrapped filet, salmon, chicken hearts, prime rib, sirloin, flank, shortrib, lamb and probably something else I'm forgetting. The only item that was half way decent was the flank, which was medium rare and had good beef flavor. The filet was probably the worst item, considering it was well done and the bacon was undercooked (how does that happen?), though the short rib I got had no meat on it, just a hunk of fat. Some people at my table liked the lamb and the primerib, but it all depends how the meat was cut. I got some first cuts, meaning the burned fat cap of the steak, while the second cut was usually better. The chicken and turkey were also unanimously disliked. The rice and beans were fine and the roasted new potatoes were by far the best side dish. Like the 'hounder above mentioned, the salad bar is pretty run of the mill, with some pretty funky looking mayonnaise based veggie and chicken salads.
                                My biggest complaint about the place is the on slaught of "gauchos" that approach your table. Literally, in a fifteen minute span, we must have been approached twenty times with skewers of meat. Even people who flipped their cards to red were still getting meat. You end up eating way too fast. We were never offered different temperatures on the meat, just had the food put on the plate. Some stuff was really overdone (turkey, filet, chicken, lamb) while some was more mid-rare (sirloin, flank, prime rib).
                                The wine list is surprisingly limited on wines by the glass, only offering "house" pinot grigio, chardonnay, merlot and cab, yet had some great South American wines by the bottle. Maybe you can get them by the glass if you ask, but it seems a little silly to pour generic wine when you have some great wines at your disposal.
                                Overall, I found the place to be a little cheazy. The salad bar thing, the "gauchos" asking if we were ready to cry "MERCY!" Personally, I would rather go to a traditional steakhouse and get one great cut of meat then go to a place that gives you bad cuts of fifteen different types of meat.

                                1. re: cplaffe

                                  cplaffe...I would say that an overwhelming majority of people do not like different temperatures of the same steak. People like myself who like rare to mid-rare would not like well-done and vice versa.
                                  I am also confused by the "cookie cutter" comment. I do not think that any of the people who have responded to this post have been expecting a cookie cutter experience. I am glad you enjoyed your experience but it just wasn't for me.

                                  1. re: goat

                                    I ventured to Gaucho's for the first time last week. The good news was that the staff was friendly and helpful. The caipirinha cocktails were delicious (note - the bar is open if and worth visiting if all you want is a cocktail, you just can't eat there).

                                    The salad bar was fine - on the smallish side but adaquate given the focus of the restaurant.

                                    I sampled every type of meat, including the chicken hearts. I didn't have to ask for anything. Plenty of variety BUT - and here is the rub - due to the charring concept, pretty much all the cuts of beef and lamb tasted pretty much the same. The filet mignon. The roast beef. The lamb. Almost indistinguishable from one another. And - as previously noted - the meat is pretty much all well done. Again, that's something to be aware of versus something to be critical of, given the concept of the restaurant.

                                    It was an interesting experience, if only for the chicken hearts. For those curious about chicken hearts - they are not something to fear, they are totally unobjectionable. They were like little bites of tough steak. If I hadn't known what they were, I could have eaten a dozen of them. As it was, I had two or three and was fine with that.

                                    I'd go back IF someone else was paying, or if it was an $18 dining experience and not a $29.99 prix fix (doesn't include dessert). I had two caipirinhas, a beer and my tab was $55, which is too much for "what it is". I'd be a fan if I could have the meal and a couple of beers and have the entire meal + tip be $30.

                                    Gaucho's is kind of interesting, but on another level its just a buffet where they bring the meat to your table - and its too expensive for what is essentially buffet quality dining.

                                    If you want to try it, I'd say its worth checking out once. But do it quickly because I can't imagine Gaucho's in the Old Port will be around too much longer...

                                    1. re: Keefer Lucas

                                      I've tried these type places across the country, especially in Dallas, all the meat seems to be very salty are mostly well-done. I agree with KLucas, the stuff all tastes the same. I stay away from all of them.

                                      1. re: treb

                                        We used to go to a similar place in Maryland and my husband and his co-workers called it the "meat faucet"

                                        1. re: delong99

                                          I was dining earlier this week at a venerable Commercial Street restaurant (near but not Gauchos) and I overheard that Gauchos is closing this weekend - of course I can't do anything other than pass this along as (literally) waterfront scuttlebutt...

                                          1. re: Keefer Lucas

                                            I just drove by and it was packed. Not sure if their weekends can make up for the rest of the week. Must be insane rent there and there is no parking. They should have really tried this experiment closer to spring/summer to take advantage of the tourists. I wish Manchester would have given us their Chop House instead of Gaucho's.

                                            When The Grill Room opens on Exchange st. in a month or two, that will hopefully be the only restaurant ever needed again if you want to go out for some meat. Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. The Front Room has been my fav restaurant since it's been open and I can't see The Grill Room being a let down at all, especially since Harding will be there.

                                            1. re: grittys457

                                              Gaucho's is a great idea and I ate there pretty recently. However, I wonder if the gaucho's themselves are eating too much meat. I could have sworn I heard our gaucho pass gas at least three times while we were dining. Future reference to any new restaurants opening, dont fart on the customers.

                                              1. re: angusbeefface

                                                That was a joke. Gauchos is a great restaurant. My husband and I have ate there twice now. I encourage everyone to try this great new concept

                              2. I didn't mind the inconsistency when Gaucho's was cheap, but the price is now up to $27.95, which doesn't include the pricy capirinhas.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: whs

                                  Ohh Gauchos... how you let me down... let me count the ways:
                                  - if the meat wasn't dry or overcooked, it was underseasoned or just poor quality. You'd think there would be a few real sauces to accompany some of the meats that so desperately needed it.
                                  - the salad bar is a flat out slap in the face. Nothing is Brazilian about it. No soups or hot sides? Potato salad with peas and carrots? This could be an opportunity to start people off with authentic cuisine and get them excited about the experience. May as well add egg salad to the spread.
                                  - why is there 75 people working there? it's overwhelming and uncomfortable. I was asked how my meal was by 4 or 5 different workers. Let people be.
                                  - the rice, beans, plantains, and yuca... Poor quality, boring and as about authentic as the bandanas and belts the gauchos wear.
                                  All in all, I don't see this place staying alive after summer. Tourists will keep it around and locals will drown it out in the late fall. It's way overpriced at buffet quality food.
                                  The saving grace - table side service of cheese balls. Mmm. Thank god for those cheese balls.
                                  Best advice.. come here for your first date with someone new so you can absolutely gross them out under very uncomfortable surroundings.

                                  1. re: larrybird

                                    I gave Gauchos a redeeming chance the other night. There seems to be very little positive (if any) progression at Gauchos. One would think by now that at least a few or some of the kinks could have been worked out of the establishment. I for one qestion the management. Some employees just seem like they are lost at work. As if they haven't been trained, or maybe the don't care for their job. Either way... I don't see my self returning to dine here anytime soon, if at all.

                                    1. re: larrybird

                                      Sorry to hear all the negitive responses, but if management does not take notice soon, we all know what will happen.......

                                2. I actually think the concept is great and wonder if many people who didn't like the "buffet" feel and the service just have never experienced a Brazilian steakhouse. That being said, this one is not the best. Years ago, I worked near a Brazilian steakhouse and would often cheap out and just get the salad bar for lunch. The salad bar options at Gaucho's are a sore disappointment and more along the lines of what I'd expect at Denny's - no truly Brazilian vegetarian options there. The meats could be fabulous, but are not. I'm new to Portland, so can't speak for the location...it seems like a nice spot to me, but probably not up to par with surrounding choices.