Buenos Aires Best Parrillas — You Can’t Beat the Meat
We love eating out in Buenos Aires. For us, it’s one of the great food cities of the world. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you differently — they either haven’t spent any great length of time here and they haven’t eaten widely enough. The beauty of renting a place and settling in for a while, as we’ve done on previous trips here, is that you can do exactly that.
Sure, Buenos Aires has it fair share of bad restaurants, just as there are bad restaurants in New York, Paris and London, and like those cities, the bad restaurants here can sometimes be the most hyped, while the best eating experiences can often be had at the most simple of places.
What we love about Buenos Aires is that you can choose to eat from a fantastic array of global cuisines — from Japanese to Vietnamese, Peruvian to Moroccan — across all budgets and styles, but that there is also an abundance of excellent Argentine restaurants, from basic empanaderias where you can wash down piping hot empanadas with a beer to chic places specializing in creative contemporary cuisine and fine wines. We’ve eaten across the whole spectrum many times.
However, in keeping with our quest this year to focus on food that is local and authentic to each place, on this stay in BA we’ve stuck to eating the most popular and traditional of Argentine food in the most quintessential Porteño eatery, the parrilla. Before you read on to see our list of Buenos Aires best parrillas, take a look at our first post on the subject, Celebrating Beef: the Buenos Aires Parrilla or Steakhouse.
Here are our favourite parrillas in Palermo (remember we’re sticking to our neighbourhood for the most part for Grantourismo), which we didn’t mind trying again at all — all in the name of research of course.
Our favourite parrillas in Palermo
La Cabrera is still a class act and it still seems to have a hundred people waiting outside for a table every time we stroll by! Why? Well, here it’s all about the little extras. Sparkling wine while you wait in line, delicious snacks (the empanadas are the tastiest you’ll find in the city, while the Patagonian salami selection and juicy green olives are out-of-this-world), and a breathtaking array of salads to go with their top quality meat. Their offal is fine too, the dining space inside has character, and service is exemplary. Tip: to avoid waiting in a queue, do as we did and arrive early for lunch; you’ll be eating mainly with locals at lunch too.
JA Cabrera 5099, Palermo Viejo; Ph 4831 7002
We were sent here by a waiter at a really cheap parrilla that we had to leave when we found out they didn’t take credit cards – yes, it was one of those days when we’d been writing at our desks all day, only to realise that it was suddenly 11pm and we hadn’t even thought about eating dinner. When we had driven past this place once before, I’d made mental notes: weekly specials, white table cloths, large tables packed around 9pm with groups of locals. We arrived so unfashionably late – late even by Porteño standards (it was nearing midnight!) – that tables were finishing desserts, bottles of Malbec were being cleared away, and people were paying bills. Yet despite the offhand service, the kitchen was still giving a damn – the bife de lomo was the best we’d eaten by this time and would eat during our this stay in Buenos Aires. Don’t believe me? Check out the photo above: fourth row, far left. It’s perfect: charcoal-charred on the outside and juicy medium rare on the inside. From now on, when I think of a perfect bife de lomo, I will always think of this. Heavenly mashed potatoes too.
Paraguay 5599, Palermo Hollywood; Ph 4772 7343
The most established of the bunch and one of the most popular parrillas with the locals, La Dorita is a classic Argentine steakhouse. With Boca Juniors paraphernalia plastered over the walls, it’s not trying to be hip or sophisticated and that’s what we love about it. We also love their mollejas (veal sweetbreads), which are nothing less than sublime, and their provoleta (smoky grilled cheese) is our favourite in the neighbourhood. They do some scrumptious papas fritas con cebolla (potato fries with fried onion) and the meat, of course, is awesome. We like to order one bife de chorizo (200g) and one bife de lomo (400g) and share them. Service is friendly and affable.
Humboldt 1905, Palermo Hollywood; Ph 4773 0070
Rey del Vino
By the time we visited ‘The King of Wines’, another big local place not far from El Trapiche, we’d been constant carnivores for a couple of weeks. Here, we set about a not-so-little taste test of bife de lomo versus bife de chorizo and were relieved to find that like at El Trapiche, the steaks were beautifully prepared and exemplary in style. The offal was superb too, especially the mollejas especiales (sublime!) and the morcilla (blood sausage). Rey del Vino also has loads of atmosphere, its ceiling dripping with jamons and its walls lined with wine bottles. We love Buenos Aires waiters, who we generally find to be warm, friendly and professional, but here the service was outstanding.
Juan B. Justo 887, Palermo Hollywood; Ph 4771 3292
Miranda was a real hot spot when we were here a few years ago, with hipsters lined up outside every night to get in. (They don’t take bookings.) This time we went late one night early in the week to see what it’s like these days. The space is still attractive – polished concrete floors, colossal picture windows, ceilings that seem to rise forever, rustic wooden tables and chairs, and cool young staff – and the atmosphere is still buzzy. While there weren’t any lines the night we went, the food is still worth queuing for. The provoleta is delicious, and our bife de lomo and cordero (lamb) were both succulent and full of flavour.
Costa Rica 5602, Palermo Hollywood; Ph 4773 4255
There are so many restaurants in Palermo, especially parrillas, that the last time we were in Buenos Aires, Don Julio, one of the most popular parrillas with expats and US visitors, didn’t even make our final cut for the guidebook we were writing. As Don Julio is just a couple of blocks from where we’re staying, we decided to try it again. The main reason we left it out of the book last time was the sheer amount of English being spoken in the room, and while that hasn’t changed, we still love the space, the service, the steaks, and the full view of the grill. Their offal, however, was just awful. Stick to Papas Española (Spanish fries), thin, crispy round potato slices that are soft in the centre like the famous fries from Jerez.
Guatemala 4691 & Gurruchaga Palermo Soho; Ph 4831 9564