🇦🇷 Buenos Aires. What an amazing city – well known for tango, futbol and well, you definitely can’t leave without trying parrilla. Known for its carne, Argentina is steak central.
Now this is the part where I lose all credibility and tell you – when it comes to steak I have (or had) no idea where to start. It’s generally not something I eat very often in the UK – synonymous with the likes of Flat Iron and Hawksmoor in London, which no doubt are outstanding, but usually a little bit out of my weekly budget. That being said, I do on occasion enjoy having a bit fat juicy steak with all the trimmings.
So, here is a foodies guide to eating steak – from one amateur steak-eater to another.
Let’s begin with the two things you need to consider: how lean do you want your meat and how well cooked you want it.
First, when thinking about Argentinian steak we need to think about what cut of meat we would like. This can be confusing to a non-Latin American Spanish speaker who is not familiar with the different terms and what they translate to. The most popular ones which are bound to crop up on any parrilla menu are the following:
Bife de lomo, what we know as tenderloin or fillet. One might think of bife de lomo as their perfect date: lean, juicy and tender. The price tag is anything but lean – but cheap dates are never the best right?
Ojo de bife is the rib-eye. Full of marbling (that’s fatty streaks to you and I) which gives the cut a body of flavour.
Cuadril translates to rump. This isn’t the ‘I’m celebrating my birthday/ engagement/ boss has announced he is leaving’ steak. This is the everyday steak which is quantity over quality.
Bife de chorizo otherwise known as sirloin or New York strip. The steak of steaks. This was what I ordered and it was an incredible cut. Big and juicy with some fat but not too much! The perfect all-rounder.
Once the cut has been decided on, the second thing we need to think about how we want our steak cooked. There’s really no right answer, it’s all down to personal preference but there is nothing worse than paying for steak which is not cooked to your taste. So here is the rundown:
Vuelta vuelta: this basically translates to the meat being flipped over – what we would call a steak that’s ‘still mooing’. Expect blue and bloody.
Jugoso: officially medium-rare. Remember this word! This word will get you by in Argentina.
A punto: medium, with still a hint of pink in the middle but no juice.
Pasado de Punto: medium to well done.
Cocido: Well done.
Bien Cocido: char-grilled beyond recognition.
And lastly, steak is great but the sides can really add to your parrilla experience. Chimichurri is a classic South American herb sauce which is going to go perfectly with any cut. This simple little sauce is going to make a world of difference. The ingredients are confined to coriander, parsley, garlic, onion, green chilli, virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar but will balance the steak perfectly.
For cheese lovers, the parrilla experience is also a paradise with the starter provoleta. It’s another pretty simple but tasty side: grilled cheese until it’s hard on the outside and gooey in the middle. Heaven? I think so.
As we found, a good meal with quality carne should come to around £30 (including drinks and sides). There are many fabulous restaurants in Buenos Aires and this has been well reviewed on website such as Gringo in Buenos Aires and Pick Up the Fork. We visited Gran Parrilla Del Plata in San Telmo which was out of this world and features very highly in many reviews.
So, there you have it. Our guide to eating parrilla – from one amateur steak-eater to another. Along with the many other wonderful things Buenos Aires has to offer we hope you enjoy your parrilla experience (with a little help from us) as much as we did.