Buenos Aires is the land of parrilas (steakhouses). Simple or lavish, traditional or modern, these restaurants specialize in the national dish, meat on the grill. Most of them have excellent products, but there are a select few that stand above the rest, offering the genuine flavor that comes with a unique dining experience.
Cabaña Las Lilas Steakhouse
Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 516 // Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires.
The pursuit of excellence leads us, inevitably, to Cabaña Las Lilas. This distinctive grill, selected by The New York Times as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world, is a gastronomic jewel in the center of Puerto Madero. Former President Bill Clinton never fails to come by every time he travels to Argentina. The calves, whose meat fill the menu are carefully selected, raised and fed, freely, on the restaurant’s farm. The long breeding process ends when the meat reaches the table, cooked with perfect technique and dedication. Knives glide over succulent tenderloins, five inches thick, without resistance before the plate is covered in a rich red color, indicative of the freshness that characterizes the meat in these lands. Taking a piece of this delicacy to the mouth results in an explosion of flavors meat lovers will not easily forget. Diners are encouraged to pair these dishes with a selection from the restaurant’s curated wine list. Here, the inevitable dessert is the homemade gelato. Dinner at Cabaña Las Lilas is always accompanied by beautiful views of the river that filter in through the large windows.
La Cabrera Steakhouse
Cabrera 5099 // Palermo, Buenos Aires.
Getting a table at La Cabrera is no easy task. But time and perseverance will reward you with access to the nobility of this classic restaurant in the posh neighborhood of Palermo, where chef Gastón Rivera redefines the traditional Argentine grill. The key lies in the maturation process. High quality meat is stored in special refrigerators and allowed to mature until it reaches a softer texture than the original. Their aged beef is stored for 13 days at 35 degrees with 90% humidity. This commitment results in the best rib eye, in Argentina. More adventurous diners can opt for the daring flavor of innards, especially the sweetbreads, known locally as beef “caviar”, which are served crisp and tasty. To the restaurant’s credit, we should mention the outstanding side dishes and sauces that come along with each meal, particularly the creole sauce known as chimichurri. The generous wine list features a great selection of fine vintages.
Llavallol 5402 // Villa Devoto, Buenos Aires.
Hidden, since 1971, in the residential neighborhood Villa Devoto, Marycarmen has managed to build an excellent reputation without paying attention to the gastronomic trends that come and go with the seasons. Prior reservation is required to have the pleasure of tasting the creative dishes that up the ante on Argentina’s fabled grills. Innovation and experience, combined in the hands of chef Diego Mastroviti, highlight the flavors of fine ingredients prepared with excellent technique. Marycarmen is not comparable to any of the other steakhouse in the country. When we thought everything was invented, Mastroviti surprised us with cheeses such as brie, provolone or goat grilled to perfection over an open fire. To appreciate his celebrated “fusion grill”, we suggest a distinctive selection of cuts featuring a variety of textures and flavors. Founders Mary or Carmen, always at hand to recommend the perfect dish for every occasion, are the epitome of Argentinian hospitality, and the vibrant atmosphere at this steakhouse is reminiscent of the traditional Buenos Aires taverns of yore. These exclusive steakhouses have a common goal: to stop the passage of time with their flavors. Undoubtedly, the experiences they offer are forever memorable. ■