Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires is an intoxicating mix of incredible museums, grand cathedrals and, of course, legendary parrillas. With world-class prime beef being Argentina’s most famous export, parilla steak houses are akin to places of worship for locals. From where to eat to how to order it, here’s our guide to the best steak in Buenos Aires.
‘Parrilla’ means grill, and the grill is indeed a way of life in Buenos Aires. A vast, open hearth upon which tasty grass-fed carne sizzles until tenderly cooked, Parrillas can be found on almost every street corner. Whether dining at upscale eateries or humble, hole-in-the-wall joints, ‘porteños’ (Buenos Aires residents) all eat the same meat. Parrillas transcend all socioeconomic boundaries and guarantee top quality beef, wherever you choose to dine.
Even the most devoted carnivore can feel bamboozled by the cornucopia of cuts available in Buenos Aires. If you can’t decide what to opt for, some of the best are:
Vacío (flank steak) A cut native to Argentina, it’s thin with a layer of fat on the outside so you get a crisp exterior and tender inside.
Bife de lomo (tenderloin) It’s the most expensive cut for a reason; similar to a filet mignon, bife de lomo is lean and melts in the mouth.
Asado de tira (short ribs) Cut very short, flavoursome and crispy, asado de tira are cheap and delicious.
Bife de chorizo (sirloin) Not to be confused with the spicy Spanish sausage, bife de chorizo is a juicy giant made tasty with plenty of fat.
RARE OR WELL DONE?
Perhaps surprisingly, many porteños like their beef well done. Whether you want yours walked through the kitchen or super-charred within an inch of its life, here’s how to order:
“Vuelta vuelta” Ultra-rare
“Jugoso” Medium rare
“A punto” Medium with a hint of pink
“Pasado de punto” Medium to well done
“Cocido” Well done
“Bien cocido” Very well done
Don’t expect many accompaniments with your beef; porteños keep it simple with a side of chimichurri sauce (parsley, garlic, oregano, chilli flakes, oil, and vinegar) and a tomato-based salsa criolla. You’ll be able to order potatoes and other dishes separately.
THE BEST STEAKHOUSES IN BUENOS AIRES
La Cabrera is one of Buenos Aires’ most revered spots for generously sized steaks in stylish surroundings. Located in the chic Palermo district, La Cabrera’s two-pound sirloins are the stuff of legends. Order one with their French fries with candied onions.
La Cabrera, 5127 Palermo, Buenos Aires
Don’t be deceived by the no-frills ambience of Parrilla Peña; the unpretentious restaurant is all about no-nonsense steaks and freshly made Italian pasta dishes, like pesto tagliatelle. You’ll rub shoulders with locals and get a truly authentic Argentine dining experience.
Rodríguez Pena 682, 1020 CABA, Buenos Aires
A rustic, family-run affair, Don Julio serves up winning wines as well as superior Aberdeen Angus and Hereford beef. Ranked on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list, you’re guaranteed choice cuts you can watch being flamed to perfection in their open kitchen.
Don Julio, Guatemala 4699, 1425 CABA, Buenos Aires
If your mouth is watering for the best beef in Buenos Aires, you can sample superb cuts with us on our Impressions of South America and Wonders of Patagonia trips.
Image credits: Lead image © iStock/Lisovskaya. Chef cooking © iStock/barsik. Argentinian BBQ © iStock/jfmdesign.