El Machote: The rustic restaurant that takes you back to a meaty era of the macho

Beef brisket that has been baked for 16 hours is ready to serve for the visitors. This 16 hour process is to make the meat tender and get a special flavor. (photo: IO/Aldo)

IO, Jakarta – Living in a large city like Jakarta means that it’s easier to be successful in hunting culinary delights – you can find just about any local or foreign cuisine if you just look hard enough.  One of the best areas to hunt for good eating in Indonesia’s capital is the area around Sarinah Department Store, along Jalan KH Wahid Hashim in Central Jakarta.  You will find a profusion of both street eateries and proper restaurants that stay open until late at night.

One noteworthy destination is El Machote, a restaurant with a Latin American grilled cuisine concept, focusing on Texas BBQ.  To fulfil the sense of the ‘El Machote’ name (Spanish for ‘macho’ or ‘manly man’), this restaurant is a sprawling indoor dining space that serves robust, high quality smoked meats – the professionally-prepared kind so tender it melts in your mouth.

El Machote brings you the ambience of a high-end saloon from a United States ‘wild west’ era.  Its walls have a natural brick texture; there are cowboy portraits and ranch-style furnishings.  Easy-on-the eyes lighting, sturdy sofas, well-ventilated spacy halls – the people of El Machote really know how to make guests feel at home.  The physical comforts of the place are well-matched with the delightful dishes El Machote serve, such as nachos el machote, grilled chicken caprese, all types of pasta, and steaks barbecued using wood-fuelled fire pits.

The restaurant is unique in terms of meat processing: El Machote serves smoked steak, not merely grilled meat.  Smoking takes a very long time – about 16 hours – until the meat becomes tender.  However, different meats require different processing periods.  Beef rib and brisket, for example: smoking ribs to perfection requires but 6 hours, while beef brisket requires 16 hours, because it is the very dense and muscular cattle shoulder.

“Cooking by smoking is a new concept in Jakarta.  So what we’re doing here is something different – we’re introducing something from the United States,” said Euginio Doldan, owner of El Machote.  “The entire grilling and smoking process is the same as what they do in the States.  The only difference is the wood we use.  For grilling, we use the wood of the rambutan and starfruit trees, because they infuse the meat with a subtle sweetness.”

Smoked meat is further cooked to obtain a soft, juicy, and smoky flavour.  Every day, El Machote processes 600-800 kg of meat.  During smoking, the meat is regularly basted with a homemade herb and cider marinating, so that its taste reaches the innermost part of the meat.  The restaurant uses a special, 3-door smoker, said to be the biggest of its kind in Indonesia.  Three chambers are for smoking beef, chicken and pork, respectively.  The smoker is placed in a glass room, so guests can watch the fascinating process.

El Machote has several prime dishes on its menu: Beef Ribs, Pork Ribs, Smoked Chicken Wings and El Machote Beef Nachos for an appetizer.  Also, El Machote serves a very popular burger, the El Machote

Beef Brisket Burger.  For all meat-lovers out there in downtown Jakarta, El Machote is the perfect choice to spend a golden weekend afternoon.

(Muhammad Akbar)