25 Years of Iconic El Gaucho Experiences

Reveling and celebrating life with our guests has been our honor for 25 years and we look forward to 25 more.  As part of our month-long celebration, we asked our guests to share some of their memories about El Gaucho for an Iconic Experience contest.  Our team was delighted with each entry as so many of you shared stories about how our restaurants have played a part in your lives.   

We intended to award one winner, but so many of the stories were so beautiful in such different ways that we decided to name five grand prize winners.  Each will receive $200 to celebrate with us and create a new memory.  With permission from each of our winners, below are excerpts from the winning entries.  

Cindy Koch shared her story about El Gaucho Tacoma: 

When my dad died in late 2018, in cleaning out his home we found $3,500 in cash rolled up in the pocket of a shirt hanging in his closet. We decided the best thing to do with it – and we’re sure he would have approved – was make a reservation for a private room at El Gaucho in Tacoma and have a fabulous dinner on Dad.  


Dr. Gerald Peterson and his family created a new tradition at El Gaucho Seattle:  

My home burned down in July 2003 the day before my daughter’s wedding. So, we did not have a home for Christmas dinner and so we went to El Gaucho for our family Christmas Eve dinner. We have gone every Christmas Eve since, and it has become one of our favorite traditions and we will continue as it has become a memorable experience for our whole family as our grandchildren now get to enjoy the tradition too. 


Ryan Guest shares his musical memories of El Gaucho Seattle:  

El Gaucho holds a spot near and dear to our hearts… my Father-in-Law absolutely loved the “Jazz Bum” piano player – they have known each other for many years and Galen (my father-in-law) is an outstanding pianist. When younger, we couldn’t afford El Gaucho, but Galen treated us every January for his birthday in downtown Seattle.  We made sure our table was right next to the piano. Galen would talk up Daniel throughout the night, and we topped off the evening a few times at the Inn upstairs. Since then, we celebrated both of my son’s college decisions at El Gaucho Seattle. Our youngest son is also an accomplished young pianist, and Galen spoke to Daniel who allowed my son to play Fly Me to the Moon on the piano at your restaurant… talk  

about a dream! He now plays for Gonzaga jazz ensemble on scholarship and wrote a college essay about his experience at your restaurant.  We also celebrated my wife’s completion of her Master’s Degree in Elementary Administration to be a principal 5 years ago at AQUA. When celebrating, we know where to go!


Steven Earl King marks 44 years as an El Gaucho guest in Portland and Seattle:  

I visited my first El Gaucho at 22 (I am 66 now). I lived in Portland but took a woman I was trying to impress to Seattle for the weekend. We were told to go to El Gaucho to impress her and we did. I walked into a wonderland I had never known existed. It was dark and romantic with people in tuxedos flaming dishes tableside. Our mature waiter (also in a tux) was so kind to these 22-year-old young people, he made us feel special and important. We wined and dined and then…. found we were sitting on Mink! Needless to say, I (well, El Gaucho) impressed her.  

Since then, I have spent most birthdays, anniversaries, NYE, wedding reception and other evenings and special occasions there. I now have a cigar locker in the Portland El Gaucho and it is my club away from home. Everyone who has worked there over the 44 years has been wonderful as staff and friends. I am thankful for them and the company. In many ways it really has changed my life. 


Cathy and Bill Berryhill celebrated love and perseverance at El Gaucho Bellevue: 

My name is Cathy and El Gaucho Bellevue has always and will forever be a special place for me.  

I am from Canada and met my husband on a cruise to Alaska on the 2nd last night. We were both divorced, but not ready to get back into the dating pool – especially with each other being so far apart. However, days of friendship turned to weeks, and weeks turn to months of chatting and before I knew it, I was completely in love with an Incredibly beautiful American man! And oh was he charming! Once we both realized our connection, he asked me if he could take me on a date. When I asked him where he would take me, he told me ALL about El Gaucho Bellevue as he often used that venue for business celebratory occasions with his staff.  

The beautiful daydream of what our date weekend looked like was something from the movies. Our love story and date were put on hold for many months, and he ended up coming North to see me and we had our first date up in Canada. Eight months later I finally came to Seattle, I got to experience the beauty and magic of El Gaucho Bellevue. It exceeded all my romantic expectations. The service, the lighting, the food… exquisite. We began to frequent it more often for both business and personal date nights. Good wine, good conversation, good food, all the while the piano is playing. 

We got engaged in November 2019 in Canada but as soon as we were back in Seattle, we celebrated our engagement at El Gaucho. It was such a happy time – we had no idea that the world would be in pieces in a few short months. In the beginning of March 2020 when the pandemic hit and the borders closed, we knew we were going to be apart for an undetermined amount of time. He was essential in Seattle and had to stay there, and I had a son in Canada and had to stay there. That goodbye was heartbreaking between us due to the uncertainty of when we would be able to see each other again. We spent months apart, and eventually found a loophole to the closed border situation. The end of May we were reunited and just wanted to be married, regardless of a wedding.  

Four days after arriving in Seattle, even with most places closed, on May 29, 2020, we got married in jeans, on a local beach, without family or friends. We didn’t care though, all that mattered was that we were together. A week later, the first day you were reopened, he surprised me with our wedding celebration at El Gaucho – just the two of us. He had  

made a note of our situation on our reservation and when we arrived at the restaurant, the moment we sat down, Manny brought us champagne and staff were congratulating us and just made us feel so special, loved and not alone. We missed sharing our special day with our family and friends so much during that time, but definitely less thanks to Manny and the amazing staff there.  

We also celebrated our 1st anniversary there too, and again it was so special. Rose petals on the table and a card signed by all the staff. Anyhow, From the bottom of my heart this place will always be special for me but more so, I hope that your staff knows that I am so grateful for always giving us exceptional service. Their smiles, attention to detail and kindness is what truly makes your venue an unforgettable experience. During a hard time of chaos in the world, they made our world forget that chaos, and just live in a joyous moment of celebrating the best thing that happened in our lives. Completely untraditional, spontaneous, and unplanned…and yet so very perfect. Our El Gaucho family will always have a special place in our hearts for celebrating our special moments over the years. Thank you so much El Gaucho Bellevue.  

Thank you to all of our guests for the honor of sharing your lives with us.  As our CEO, Chad Mackay said, “The joy we feel when gathering to celebrate life is universal and timeless, and that feeling inspires our team and keeps our guests coming back to El Gaucho.  We will continue to build on that legacy for the next 25 years.”