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This appetizer of Cocada de Camerones, or coconut shrimp, ($10), with chipotle dipping sauce, at Gtano's could easily make a light meal. Photo by Cheryl Pearson

South-of-the-equator flavors at Gtano's

Feeling adventurous, I decided to try Gtano’s restaurant in the heart of downtown Grants Pass. Gtano’s theme is “Nuevo Latin Cuisine,” featuring dishes from Peru, Argentina and Mexico.

I figured if I couldn’t afford to travel to Peru, at least my palate could.

Located in the Town Center Shopping Mall, the restaurant offers a warm, inviting atmosphere with Saltillo tiles on the floor and a distressed orange-color wash on the walls. Colorful woven linens adorn the individual tables covered with glass tabletops. Our waitress was welcoming and answered my many questions about the cuisine.

It’s best described as an inspired and inventive fusion of flavors and ingredients from Latino communities in South America, Mexico, Africa and Central America.

To start our meal, the waitress brought tortilla chips and homemade potato chips with a delicious cilantro dipping sauce. For an appetizer, we chose Cocada de Camerones, or coconut shrimp, ($10), with chipotle dipping sauce. The shrimp was lightly breaded and not overcooked. The slightly spicy sauce complemented the lightness of the seafood.

Other appetizer choices included Mignon Alambre, or filet mignon kabobs, with onion, bell pepper and zucchini, and Anticuchos de Pollo, three chicken kabobs marinated in chimichurri sauce and served with Peruvian Aji (chili) sauce.

The menu’s selection of salads included a mixed seasonal fruit salad with tomatoes and mango with agave balsamic vinaigrette and a spinach salad with fruit, mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, rice, beans and queso fresco.

Soups included chicken breast or creamy poblano pepper topped with roasted corn and crispy tortilla strips.

Gtano’s panini featured pesto, queso fresco, marinated grilled chicken, caramelized onions and Monterey Jack cheese served with sweet potato fries. The Cuban panini is made with ham, egg, fresh pineapple, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and Monterey Jack cheese.

The main entrees include some recognizable favorites: Surf ‘n’ Turf with lobster tail, filet mignon and grilled prawns topped with a creamy mushroom sauce; chile relleno, a roasted pasilla pepper stuffed with roasted corn and Mexican cheese with light red chile arbol sauce; and such Mexican favorites as chicken, pork or beef burritos, tacos and enchiladas.

There were some new dishes to try. I chose Seco de Pollo — a traditional Peruvian stew made with tender chicken, homemade fried potatoes, red onions, sweet yams, peas and Amarillo chile cilantro sauce ($15). My friend chose mahimahi, a dish full of tropical flavors from pineapple, mango and strawberries, served with rice and fresh fruit ($21).

The waitress brought our entrees out at the same time. Mine was a green stew that turned out to taste absolutely wonderful under the mound of green cilantro sauce. My friend’s dish was one of the most beautifully plated meals I have ever seen at a restaurant. The center of the plate had the top of a pineapple as garnish. On one side of the pineapple was a lettuce leaf with coleslaw and chipotle sauce. On the other side was the perfectly cooked mahimahi with sauteed mushroom and fruit salsa, and the final element was white rice mixed with corn. I was suddenly overcome with entree envy.

For dessert, I chose a light and fluffy flan with creme fraiche, and my friend chose the cheesecake. The light desserts were the perfect complement to the hearty main courses.

Gtano’s serves dinner only. Hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 3 to 10 p.m. Friday; and 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday. Find Gtano’s at 218 S.W. G St. or call 541-507 for information. There is plenty of parking nearby.

Cheryl Pearson is a freelance writer who lives in Central Point. Reach her at cpearson4513@outlook.com

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