It’s kind of frustrating to write a list that I know beforehand will make people angry. After all, the best steakhouse is the one in my barrio, right? But take it all with a grain of salt (pun definitely intended) and just keep in mind I only had five places to fill so just add your suggested parrillitas on the comment section and have a little mercy. This ranking is meant to show a more traditional, less expensive side of the steakhouse, away from the Cabreras, Don Julios and Cabaña Las Lilas of the world
El Gran Mosquito
Smack dab in the middle of Almagro you’ll find the parrilla with the most peculiar name of all. The place is well known for its all you can eat option, which means you can eat non stop, until you have to be carried out on a stretcher by friends and family (a glorious way to experience near death nonetheless.) In case you’re not into the food extravaganza you can also order the delicious dishes individually, with an exquisite array of cuts of meat that you can accompany with traditional provoleta cheese (that goes on the grill, of course), chorizo, and empanadas.
Those that have been bitten by the great mosquito in the past (I know, I still can’t get past the name either) are keen on emphasizing that you should always leave room in your tummy for the chocolate volcano which is exactly as delicious as you are now imagining it. Fun fact: rumor has it that this was Maradona’s parrillita of choice and the place is proud to boast his picture and autographed items. Personally I wouldn’t trust Maradona’s judgement too much but maybe this tidbit of information seals the deal for you, i don’t know…
El Gran Mosquito -Perón 4499 – Almagro
The Ferroviario, which literally translates into the railway worker, is actually located in Liniers, really really far away from any traditional tourist destinations in Buenos Aires. Most people recommend to go only with a reservation or risk having to wait in line for a couple of hours to get in. So, why in God’s name would you want to make this trip, you ask? Because it’s damn good, that’s why…
The place belongs to the railway workers club and was exclusively for its members until about 12 years ago when a new administration decided to share their secret for those of us who only ride trains and know nothing else about them. The portions are huge like, Fred Flinstone eating a Brontosaurus huge, with the most suggested cuts being asado ancho, piglet and lamb. The wine list is quite stacked and very pocket friendly. So to recap: far away, reservation needed, huge portions.
El Ferroviario – Av. Reservistas Argentinos 219 – Liniers
So there’s this documentary on Netflix that I think anyone who comes to Argentina ought to check out. It’s called Todo Sobre el Asado and it’s about the cult of meat in this country. It’s pretty funny overall, but one of the greatest moments of it involves Hugo Echevarrieta, the owner of La Brigada.
That clip on its own should be enough to convince you to go to this La Brigada in San Telmo. I mean, come on, the guy cut a freaking steak down the middle with a spoon and then shoved it in Anthony Bourdain’s face! La Brigada has a broad variety of meat cuts that range from traditional to some very special house cuts like the the “asado especial del centro.” Its walls are filled with football memorabilia and the service is really top notch, compared to what you usually receive in 90 percent of other parrillitas. One last tip: if you take a friend, surprise him/her with the spoon trick and you’ll get extra points.
La Brigada – Estados Unidos 465 – San Telmo
This one hits very close to my heart since I used to study about a block away. In those days I used to treat myself to their fried empanadas (which are top notch, by the way) and their sandwiches which you can eat standing up at the entrance or just take away and eat them on the street because #elegance. Choripán, Morcipán (blood sausage sandwich), and Provoleta sandwich… El Desnivel has them all.
But the true big-league experience to be had is at the table, were you can feast on a variety of cuts including their asado de tira and the bife de chorizo, both of which I’m sure have some translation, but I’ve decided to help you learn exactly how to order them. Also, ask for the empanada as a starter, you will not be disappointed.
El Desnivel -Defensa 855- San Telmo
Besides its great and savory cuts of meat, what makes this place pretty special is that it’s much more centric than the other places on this list without sacrificing any of it’s purely porteña authenticity. It hasn’t got much in the way of decoration and its sign seems something a person would’ve designed in WordArt but what it lacks in design it certainly makes up for with its menu (after all, you’re coming here to eat, right). One of its prides and joys is the Entraña, a cut of meat that not many non argentines have tasted but that is well worth a try. Leave space for the budin de pan, a tasty and creamy dessert that puts the finishing touches on any meal.