There's one major tragedy in traveling to Argentina. You'll probably never be able to fully enjoy American steak again.
Photos, thoughts and tips after the jump.
La Brigada, noisy and dripping with soccer paraphernalia, is a classic parrilla in touristy San Telmo. It's known to serve some of the best beef in BA.
We ordered the asado especial–the ribs.
The server cuts the bad boy for us with a spoon. A spoon! We examined the spoon to see if it was really a crazy secret contraption like a knife-edged-spoon, but no, it was just a regular spoon.
I've always enjoyed a good steak, but usually smother mine in Lawry's Seasoned Salt or dip the cut-up pieces in whatever sauce happens to be on my plate. But in Argentina, the beef, all by its lonesome on a platter, packs in so much flavor.
With each bite, there was dazed sigh and an, “Oh my God.” La Brigada was one of my favorite parrillas.[
La Cabrera is another popular parrilla that serves colorful, nontraditional side dishes like mashed pumpkin with raisins and and baked pearl onions in red wine alongside its steak. It's the only parilla to offer Kobe beef, which we tried and loved.
El Trapiche is a large, bright, bustling parrilla, a local favorite.
Gustavo urged me to try the morcilla, or sweet breads. Wasn't a huge fan. Tasted chalky and could barely get through a few bites.
The flank steak, on the other hand, was divine.
A few tips on parrilla dining:
Tip #1: Order one steak cut to share. They're usually hefty
and there are so many other amazing appetizers and sides to try (hola,
empanadas!). The steak cuts are about 60 to 70 Argentine pesos at nicer
and the exchange rate in Argentina right now is about 4 Argentine peso =
$1 USD, so you can eat amazing quality beef for about $15 to
$17–nearly unheard of in the U.S.
Tip #2: Know your carne. The most important Spanish word I learned on the trip is jugoso, medium rare, the only way I like my meat.
We carried around a handy little cheat-sheet.
Tira de Asado: Long, thin strips of ribs
Bife Angosto: Strip Steak or porterhouse
Bife de Costilla: T-Bone steak
Bife de Chorizo: Sirloin steak
Bife de Lomo: Fillet Mignon or fillet steak
Entraña: Skirt steak
Cuadril: Rump, served as steak or as a large cut
Colita de Cuadril: Tail of the rump
Morcilla: Blood sausage
Chinchulin: Small or lower intestine
Mollejas: Sweet breads
Matambre de Cerdo: Pork flank
Bondiola: Pork shoulder
Vuelta y Vuelta: Bleu
Muy jugoso: Rare
Jugoso: Medium rare
A punto: Medium to well done
Bien Hecho: Very well done
Tip #3: Be the crazy tourist that you are and take pictures of your food. Revisit them whenever you're served some shitty American steak. Be bitter. Then check your vacation schedule and airline miles to see when's the next time you can go back to Argentina.