La Brigada is the quintessential Argentina steakhouse with a few interesting twists (like a bone-in Ribeye and a T-Bone steak). The restaurant, which has been around for decades, is jam-packed with fútbol memorabilia and nostalgic tidbits from Argentina’s grand past. The steakhouse transcends the quirky décor and its location in San Telmo and somehow manages to deliver a somewhat refined dining experience. And those big, juicy steaks are a joy to consume. Not the most imaginative side dishes. It’s pretty much fries, fries and fries.
La Carnicería is to Argentine steakhouses, what heavy-metal is to 20th century music. It breaks all the rules. The only option for a grilled steak on the menu is a big, thick bone-in strip steak. But that’s about the only thing a carnivore needs. That, and the baked potato stuffed with sour cream and sausage slices. The waiters don’t wear bow-ties and red vests. More likely you’ll see one in a Metallica t-shirt. Untraditional. And that’s what makes it a breath of fresh air. You can get a better steak in Buenos Aires, but you won’t find a more interesting steak-eating experience anywhere in the city.
Don Julio is the emblematic Argentine steakhouse. Lots of big rustic chandeliers. A couple of poster-size diagrams of pigs and cows showing the names of each cut of meat. But the primary focus of the décor at Don Julio are the hundreds of empty wine bottles on the walls with inscriptions scribbled on the labels with a black indelible ink marker. You’ll need to read the full review to find out why. Every thick steak (and they serve a bunch of them) deserves to be served in a place with a personality. And this place has one.
Le Grill is the modern, sophisticated version of the Argentine steakhouse. Owned and operated by the same owner as Chila, regarded by many as the city’s best gourmet dining establishment, Le Grill has a sleek, contemporary décor, unrivaled service and a reasonably priced six-course tasting menu that showcases the restaurant’s unique take on the Argentine parilla, including a course that features the restaurant dry-aged beef. And a comparison plate that allows the diner to compared non-aged beef, to a 45-day and a 100-day aged steak. Le Grill is an opportunity to see Argentina’s beef-eating culture in a whole new light.
Retiro (La Recova), Puerto Madero
El Mirasol may not get the publicity that Cabaña Las Lilas receives. But El Mirasol is the preferred parilla of the city’s privileged class, with three locations in the city’s most affluent neighborhoods. Great service and high-quality steaks keep the elite returning month after month, year after year. One unique, distinguishing feature is that El Mirasol devotes a full page on its menu to salads. These salads aren’t all that creative, but what’s offered is certainly more impressive than options at other steakhouses in the city.
Is that a full-sized papier-mâché replica of a bovine staring at you at the front door? Yes. It is. The name is confusingly similar to that of nearby famed parilla, Cabaña Las Lilas. Both offer high-quality steaks and stellar service with identical views overlooking the harbor in Puerto Madero. There’s at least one distinguishing feature. La Cabaña offers the famed Chateaubriand steak for (for two), served tableside in the traditional manner with La Cabañas unique set of fixins. We’re guessing the Argentine beef in this steak is far superior to the one served during the 19th century in France. This is likely as close as you’ll get to being a French diplomat or statesman. So, order it and enjoy!
Note: Nearby Cabaña Las Lilas does serve some high-quality shared steaks for couples. But they don’t carry the moniker Chateaubriand. And we note, that many of the traditional elements of the French dish are not replicated at La Cabaña.
It’s perhaps the world’s most celebrated steakhouse, being mentioned in the same breath with brethren like Morton’s in Chicago, Fogo de Chão in Sao Paulo or Delmonico’s in New York. These guys have their own estancia (equivalent of a Dude Ranch in Texas) where they breed, cultivate and hand-pick the cattle for the beef used in this notorious steakhouse. And everything’s impressive when you visit. Execution, service and ambiance are first-rate. And sitting on the terrace overlooking the sailboats in the harbor is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon or evening. Nobody does the “estancia” routine and décor quite as elegantly as they do at Cabaña Las Lilas. But be forewarned. This dog and pony show comes at a price. It’s the most expensive restaurant in town.
Fervor, ideally located directly behind the Alvear Hotel, was old the day it opened. But its Argentine patrons and visitors to the city seem to eat up this antiquated décor. And they eat up the high-quality steaks the parrilleros are putting on the plates. The service is top-notch and the prices, although lofty, are certainly no more than the alternatives in the neighborhood.