Think you’ve had a good steak? Think you’ve experienced the pinnacle of what happens when you take a cow and apply heat? Trust me: if you haven’t visited the parrillas (steakhouses) of Buenos Aires, South America’s steak capital, you’re not even close.
Argentines just get good steak. And they’ve spent a long time turning it into something between a science and an art form. Example? They have far more precise cuts of meat than we do (a T-Bone isn’t just a T-Bone, it’s actually made up of two cuts – the boneless Lomo and the smaller Costeleta). And instead of grilling the hell out of it to ‘seal’ the surface, they prefer a slow, smoky asado style, cooked over briquettes, never propane.
Hungry yet? Here are our top places in BA to steak your claim.
1. El Mirasol
El Mirasol has been going strong since 1967, and the experience shows in every succulent bite. Unlike places like La Cabrera, which are unapologetically steak obsessed, El Mirasol is a varied menu, and there’s plenty of attentive staff around to talk you through the different cuts (and help you pair them with a good Mendoza red). Bliss.
2. La Escondida
Again in trendy Palermo, La Escondida is great for couples looking for two things: meat and ambience. In that order. The steaks come out jugoso (juicy) and hot, and there’s a salad bar to round out the dining experience. Not the priciest parrilla in BA, but a good budget option is La Cabrera is booked up.
3. Parrilla del Plata
Parrilla del Plata does the basics right. It’s not interested in frills, just good steak. The wines are very reasonably priced, and there’s a good range of sides (try the sweet potato – batata – for an interesting flavor combo). To get there, head to San Telmo, just back from the waterfront, and remember to order the Entrana (skirt steak).
4. La Cabrera
The saying goes “There’s steakhouses, and then there’s La Cabrera.” You’ll find it in the upmarket Palermo district, among a gaggle of wine bars and fancy restaurants, and this really is the crème de la crème when it comes to Argentine steak. The bola de lomos and bife de costillas are sizzled to perfection, and you get free sides (‘yapa’) with every meal. Bonus.
5. Parrilla Peña
If you’re looking for an old-school parrilla where the locals actually eat (always a good sign) try Parrilla Pena in Recoleta. You won’t find fancy tablecloths or any mood lighting, but you will find some of the best steaks in the city. For best results though, try mixing it up a little: order the parrilla completa, a mix of different grilled meats.
Set on a leafy street corner in the south corner of Palermo, Miranda is a young parrilla, but quickly making a name for itself, especially with locals. You come to this place for atmosphere, not tranquility. Even on a Monday night you’ll find waiters rushing around delivering sizzling brochete de pollo and ojo de bife to hungry patrons. A good spot for a week night fiesta.
7. Las Cabras
From Wednesday to Sunday night, the alfresco tables of Las Cabras are jammed with BA’s hip, young, meat-loving public. A great spot to meet with friends, it features a few northern specialties along with cracking steak. Try an entre of empanadas and humitas before tucking in to the gran bife de cabras: a succulent cut that comes with pumpkin, egg, peppers, onion, rice, cheese, and fries.
Lots of our Argentina small group trips start in BA, so you’ll have plenty of time pre-trip to find your ultimate steak.
Feature image c/o Su-Lin, Flickr