Now, though, with the opening of Primo's Parrilla, Argentine asado has come to the neighborhood, as authentic as it can get some six thousand miles from the pampas.
Growing up in Argentina, Primo's Parrilla owner and asador Javier Sandes learned early on that food was what brought the family together. His father grilled; his mother cooked, and everyone, friends and extended family alike, would gather around the table to talk and laugh and eat. Good meat, like good chimichurri sauce, was always there, rubbed simply with salt and cooked slowly over the coals so the fat melted into the meat, basting it from within.
When Sandes moved to the Bay Area, he brought with him his father's grilling skills and his mother's love of feeding a crowd. Soon he was making Argentine-style barbecue in the backyards of friends all around Oakland. One of those friends was Walker Bass, who told Sandes that he really should go into the barbecuing business full-time. Bass, along with Sere Peterson and Hammad Atassi, became an investor and part of the team, and soon Primo's Parrilla was born: a truck-and-grill operation bringing lunchtime asado to the people of Emeryville five days a week. (The truck, the crew and the meat are also available for private parties and events.)