Gus Saldivia and his father "Cachito" are from Uruguay. They moved to Houston in 1977 and ran Chimi Churri's Restaurant on Bellaire in the 1990s, until the shopping center it was in was torn down. The restaurant was widely regarded as serving some of the most affordably priced steaks in the city.
Now they're back in the business with the recently opened South American Grill (10234 Westheimer, 713-782-9494), although the name of the restaurant may change. "We tried to call it The Original Chimi Churri's, but there is another restaurant with a similar name and they filed an injunction against us. So for now it's just the South American Grill, but we're still looking for something to put before it," says Gus Saldivia. Cachito Saldivia is 72 and runs the kitchen. "He said he was going to do only lunch," says Gus, "but he's here all day. He loves it."
The Saldivias are going to specialize in Argentinean Malbec and Chilean Carmenere wines at affordable prices. "We are pricing our wines starting at around $20, and no wine will be over $50," says Gus.
Dish enjoyed the parrillada completa, or complete mixed grill, which is an adventurous meat-lover's dream come true and includes almost every piece of meat sold at the restaurant. Here you'll find the Uruguayan specialty skirt steak entraña, beef ribs, chorizo and morcilla (blood) sausages and sweetbreads, with roasted potatoes and grilled veggies as accompaniments, all topped with their homemade chimichurri sauce. The sizzling platter holds a massive amount of food, and at $39.95, it will feed two famished people with probably some left over.
It seems fans of the old Chimi Churri's have found the new place. "With all the problems we've had opening the restaurant and with the name, it's really nice to see our old customers coming back and some coming back more than once," says Saldivia. "That gives us the confidence to go on."
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