A Corner of Argentina in Manta - Food Column
Believe it or not, Manta has more to offer than just seafood. I’ve found that barbecue, sausages, and arrays of grilled meats are very common in many of the restaurants here. One of the best restaurants in town is El Resero Restaurante. El Resero is a steakhouse with an Argentinian influence. The name “El Resero” literally translates to “the herder”. “Los Reseros” are what cattle herders in the early 1900s were called in Argentina. These gauchos (cowboys) were very important figures in Argentina at the time. So much so that between 1962 and 1968, a figure of El Resero could be found on the 10 peso coin in Argentina. With a history like that, it’s no wonder this place knows steaks.
Getting to the restaurant is no easy feat however, as it is definitely off the beaten path. This is not a place you will stumble upon while walking. It’s better to find a taxi driver that knows how to get there. If you are driving yourself, the location is off the major highway of Ruta del Spondylus, past urbanizacion Manta Beach, and on a small road across from Unidad Educativa Manabí. There are signs on the Ruta del Spondylus pointing in the direction of the restaurant, but they are small and could easily be missed.
El Resero is open daily starting at 1700h. When pulling into the parking lot, you can see the restaurant sign lit up and a glow from all the lights inside. I dined there during the holidays, so there were extra lights all over the restaurant. El Resero is mostly an outdoor dining restaurant, beautifully decorated with bamboo walls and fixtures, beautiful tropical plants and trees, and of course the lights. I loved seeing the colored lights all around the restaurant for the holidays. I hope they incorporate the lights for their permanent year-round décor. There’s a massive bar, a pool table, and even a play area for kids. They have thought of it all. If dining outdoors is not your thing, there’s a small indoor dining area that is very cozy as well.
The waitstaff are wonderful and wear such stylish uniforms. The men wear all black collared shirts and dress pants, but the women are by far the best dressed waitstaff I’ve ever seen. They wear the cutest white blouses and black skirts, but the best part is the black and white striped hair coverings. Because of the pandemic, they all even wear matching black masks and face shields. They are a very professional looking waitstaff with great personalities to match.
If you ask any one of the waitstaff the best thing on the menu, you will get pointed to the house specialty, “novillo a la mar.” This is what we call in the US, surf and turf. It’s a nice-sized filet mignon wrapped in bacon and covered in mushroom sauce, accompanied with garlic shrimp, and a whole grilled langostino. It’s served with a salad and either french fries, a baked potato, or a mashed potato. It’s a lot of food and the best thing on the menu according to many. Another popular dish recommended by the waitstaff is the “lomo a la diabla.” If you’ve spent any time eating in Manta, you know that “lomo fino” is a very popular type of beef steak. “Lomo fino” literally translates to fine loin, thus it’s a sirloin steak. However, at El Resero, you’re not just getting a sirloin on a plate, you’re getting a show with the “lomo a la diabla.” The steak is large and brought out on an iron platter, the waiter then takes a cup of brandy, lights it on fire, and pours the flames onto the steak. Since the steak is a long tenderloin it burns for a while creating quite the showstopper. The meal is served with a delicious pepper sauce, a salad, and again your choice of potato.
Be prepared to get food to go at El Resero. The portions are large. I recently ordered the “picanha” and literally got six mini steaks on a grill. “Picanha” is a popular cut of beef in South American countries. It is the top sirloin cap and what makes “picanha” unique is the layer of fat on top of the meat that keeps it really juicy. At El Resero, the “picanha” is brought to the table on a grill top. It was still sizzling and there were actual hot coals right underneath. It was so cool to continue cooking my steak to my liking right at the table.
The menu is large and a little more expensive compared to other restaurants in Manta. However, that should be expected when going to a nice steakhouse. The “picanha” was $24, the “novilla a la mar” was $18, and the “lomo a la diabla” was $16. I can personally vouch for the high quality of meats served here, but I will add there is also something for everyone at El Resero. There is seafood on the menu and the stuffed corvina (white fish) is quite delicious. There’s also barbecue platters with sausage, chicken, and steak combinations. There are shareable platters for groups, and for the adventurous eaters, there’s the “achuras” (offal) section of the menu. This includes beef heart, kidney, gizzards, and chitterlings. Not for me, but if they cook and season it like their other dishes, I’m sure it’s delicious.
El Resero is a beautiful outdoor restaurant, and I can see why they have been named one of the best in Manta. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the décor almost as much as I enjoyed the food.
Author: Rolanda Stinson-Smiley