TOLUCA LAKE—Eating like a celebrity is easy when entering the Argentinean restaurant Malbec, especially when it is common to find celebrities feasting on the delicacies. Located in Pasadena and Toluca Lake, owners Javier Pardini and brothers, Luciano and Pablo Alcorta, established an authentic taste of Argentina the entrepreneurs are proud to call home.

As soon as you enter, the troubles of a long day are sure to melt away with the alluring smell of fresh bread, which can only be topped off with the savory chimichurri typical of the country. For an appetizer be sure to order the empanadas stuffed with your choice of beef, chicken, spinach and cheese or ham and cheese. No one likes a greasy after taste, but the spinach and cheese empanadas are soft as if baked; it’s a melt-in-your-mouth feeling that derails chicken soup as the ultimate comfort food.

Additional appetizers include raw beef carpaccio, Costa Patagonia (flat grilled pacific prawns, scallops and calamari in a paprika-garlic sauce) and Provoleta a la Criolla (melted provolone cheese served in an iron skillet with roasted peppers, shallots, tomatoes and toasted bread) among other starters for your palate. And this is just the beginning!

The menus for lunch and dinner are slightly different as dinner has more options, but when it comes to Argentinean cuisine you can never go wrong with steak. So if you’re planning to enjoy steak for lunch try the Churrasco (grilled N.Y. steak with mushroom sauce served with sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes). If you want dinner try the Entrana al Chimichurri (skirt steak basted with a traditional Argentinean light chimichurri sauce served with fresh grilled vegetables). The meat is free-range cattle of the highest quality that can be noted within the first bite. The meat, never dry, bursts with juicy flavor. To compliment the steak there’s nothing like red wine. Malbec, so named for the award-winning grape lush in Argentina, offers Argentinean wines including the versatile Malbec wine that is characterized as medium to full body with earth-like and spice undertones. Those who prefer pasta or vegetarian meals will be pleased to know the restaurant also offers a variety of dishes sure to satisfy any cravings.

Aside from the luxurious food, the restaurant’s design includes plants that do not overwhelm the eye, a wall covered in beautiful bricks and candles and an aesthetic best described as rustic charm completely bathed in flattering, dim lighting—perfect for falling in love. Are you planning to celebrate an anniversary or birthday? Towards the back of the restaurant there is an additional dining area as well as an outside patio and lounge sure to provide a warm venue for any special occasions. Catering services are also available for that dinner party at home that is sure to impress.

Malbec makes it easy to experience the quotidian food and wine of Argentina at an affordable price, and the attentive, beautiful staff will make you feel as if you’re home.

If you’re looking for daily specials head over to the Toluca Lake location at 10151 Riverside Drive, 818-762-4860; the Pasadena location can be found at 1001 E. Green St., 626-683-0550, or e-mail