We’ve been to some food obsessed towns – Bologna, San Sebastian, Namedrop City – and Buenos Aires is right up there with all of ’em. There’s a parrilla (grill/steakhouse) on every corner, and many many corners.
This post is the beefy fruit of our fortnight long labours: from streetside to meatside, a definitive list of our favouritest BA parrillas.
7. Que Parrillon (Puerto Madero)
Que Parrillon, you completo me.
The beautiful Puerto Madero nature reserve is lined with dozens of food stalls. They all turn out fantastic grub at the kind of low prices that make you nervous you’ve accidentally ordered a salad roll. At these streetside grills, it’s all about the steak sandwich (lomito). And the only order better than a lomito is a lomito completo, with added egg, ham and cheese.
At Que Parrillon the condiment bar is longer than a Leonard Cohen song and we dutifully loaded up.
Let us bow our heads and pray we can finish it.
6. Nuestra Parrilla (San Telmo)
Mind if I just stare at your grill for a few hours?
Early on we tripped over this hole-in-the-wall joint about 50m from our apartment. Here a paltry 20 pesos (A$2) lands you a ‘choripan’, a deviously simple but heavenly affair consisting of grilled chorizo slapped onto a fresh hunk of french roll.
See those twin jars of homemade chimichurri? That’s a zingy, tangy condiment that comes in two choices: red or green. Slathering on irresponsible amounts of BOTH red and green is mandatory. As is a 1L beer to wash it all down.
5. Desnivel (San Telmo)
Not even Evel Knievel could jump over a Desnivel steak.
This ‘working man’s’ parrilla is on Defensa, smack bang in the middle of the main San Telmo shopping drag. Inside, the only thing more crowded than the restaurant floor was the grill.
Our cheerful waiter delivered up superb steaks, chorizo sausage and a divine proveleta (a cheese round grilled into gooey melted bliss). Even better, we were reunited with two of our favourite things: Our Dutch pals Jacq & Tijs, and penguin-shaped jugs of wine.
4. Gran Parrilla Del Plato
Take a butcher’s at this place.
Gran Parrilla Del Plato is a former San Telmo butchers shop converted into a classy restaurant. That red neon sign (top) drew us in like moths to the flame.
Their perfectly cooked Ojo de Bife (ribeye fillet) made my ojos pop out of my cabeza if you know what I mean.
Paired with provenzal fries and a delish Malbec, it was truly epic. By the time our waiter brought us the bill with complementary limoncello, I was chaining myself to a table.
3. Don Julio (Palermo)
The Don made us an offer we couldn’t refuse: more steak.
The Palermo location of this top-rated parrilla meant a considerable jump up in swank and price. Case in point: the hand carved and engraved steak knives, available for purchase at a lazy $600 pesos (A$60) each.
These bad boys went through a beautiful Bife de Chorizo (top sirloin) like a knife through steaky butter. And what a steak it was. At this point we were smugly certain we’d nailed the best in BA.
2. La Cabrera (Palermo)
All aboard the champagne train.
Another Palermo institution, La Cabrera offers free champagne to those queuing for a table. So of course,we turned up smack bang in the middle of peak hour. Imagine our disappointment at being seated immediately – almost unheard of!
On the plus side, our Dutch double date meant we could go for both the Bife de Chorizo and Ojo de Bife between us.
The sirloin was excellent – but the ribeye was To Die For. At long last, the WOOAAAHH moment we’d been searching for. Jaws hit floors. Conversation ceased. And all of us desperately wished we’d ordered two ribeyes.
The icing on the steak: after the meal the waiter delivered up four free glasses of excellent bubbly! Better late than never.
Ooo La La Cabrera.
1. La Brigada (San Telmo)
Steak Harder, La Brigada.
The term Old School was never so fitting than for this neighbourhood parrilla in San Telmo. The decor is mafioso hangout meets sports memorabilia bar meets confused patrons.
Given this was our Swan Song we eagerly doubled-down on two big steaks: One last Bife de Chorizo and a mystery cut the waiter insisted upon. In accordance with legend, the waiter cut the steaks with a spoon to show how tender they are. A f*cking spoon!
To this day we’re not sure what cut the recommended steak (left) was; it was lovely though. But there on the right, the Bife took out the night, the city and all my hopes and dreams. Time after time this supremely popular cut had floored us but failed to deliver a knockout. Not this time. So tender it was like slicing into jelly. Perfectly salty, smokey, meaty heaven.
Just look at my stupid smiling face below, not yet realising I’m about to have the greatest steak of my life.
Lord we had some great steak in Bueons Aires, in Argentina, in South America even! – but that one went full Tina Turner. It was simply the best.