When Paul Mackay resurrected El Gaucho, which reigned downtown for over three decades before it shuttered in '85, the "Macarena" was Billboard's number one, chart-topping song. It was 1996 and the prom-wedding-birthday dance was yet to become the bane of every DJ. Now the storied restaurant is going through another reincarnation: After more than 20 years at First and Wall in Belltown, El Gaucho is relocating to 2414 Western Avenue.
Its new home, the historic Union Stables building just north of Pike Place Market (and closer to its younger sibling of a restaurant, Aerlume), will open in summer 2020. Meanwhile the current El Gaucho will remain operating per usual until the new space—all 10,000 square feet of bar, private dining, and general dining room—is ready.
El Gaucho's third chapter will still feel familiar with its menu of traditional steak house classics, attentive tableside service (the spectacle of flambeed bananas foster is going nowhere), and nightly live music. Perhaps the most notable changes will be the new tuxedo-style uniforms for front of house staff and juxtaposition of luxury and rusticity in the space.
In the era of long-lived restaurants closing, this news is reassuring for the state of Seattle dining. In fact, the El Gaucho team is growing outside of city limits. El Gaucho is opening in Vancouver, Washington in December 2020 in the new Hotel Indigo.
What a time for the antithesis of fast-casual dining.