In search of the perfect Steak – Best Buenos Aires steaks

Disco Supermarket Steak Dinner
James Schloeffel

James Schloeffel

My top 5 countdown of the best steaks in Buenos Aires…

Having lived in London for the past two years, steak has been largely off the menu. It’s not that steak isn’t available in London – it’s just that it’s either poor quality or will cost you a week’s rent. Sometimes both.

Imagine my anticipation when my family and I arrived in Buenos Aires, the self-styled steak capital of the world, for a four week stay. We’d heard the rumours: the steaks in Buenos Aires are big, delicious and cheap. We weren’t about to mess around with tofu or chicken korma.

Eager to make the most of this steak nirvana, we set ourselves a heavy schedule of meat eating – ‘Supersize Me’ Argentina style, if you will – as we tracked down the best steaks in the city. Of course we only scratched the surface – there are parrillas (steak houses) on every corner in Buenos Aires and we didn’t get much beyond Palermo – so I encourage you to undertake your own field research and let us know about your own favourites in the comments below.

To get you started, here are the top five finds on our Buenos Aires steak crusade. Vegetarians look away now.

5. Don Julio, Guatemala 4699, Palermo

Parrilla Don Julio

This was our first steak in Buenos Aires and we were initially taken aback by the price. The 50 peso price tag for a steak was considerably higher than the 35 pesos the Time Out magazine was quoting (published just a few months before). Argentina is currently suffering inflation of over 30%, and here was first-hand proof.

Still, seven pounds for a 300g steak isn’t bad. Match that with a 50 peso (seven pound) bottle of Malbec and you have the perfect meal for under 15 pounds.

Don Julio is a traditional gem in the heart of trendy Palermo. With sushi, Peruvian, Armenian and even vegetarian restaurants all the rage in this part of Buenos Aires, Don Julio sticks to what it knows: big slabs of beef. After one bite of my bife de lomo (tenderloin) I knew this was the start of a love affair – the big, fat, juicy piece of cow meat melted in my mouth. I wanted more.

Don Julio, Guatemala 4699, Palermo
Price: 50 pesos
Approximate Size: 300g
Heart Warning: Medium

4. Disco Supermarket, Palermo

Disco Supermarket Steak Dinner

Staying in an apartment is surprisingly affordable in Buenos Aires. The added benefit is you can cook for yourself. Our local Disco supermarket’s beef section was encouragingly large – bigger than the entire meat section of your average Tesco – with every imaginable part of cow on offer. We picked a mid-priced option, about 40 pesos for two steaks, each one bigger than my face.

Of course cooking for yourself has the added challenge of, well, cooking the thing yourself. My partner volunteered for cooking duties and pulled off something quite special. Perfectly cooked, succulent steak from a supermarket.

Disco Supermarket, Palermo
Price: 20 pesos
Approximate Size: 350g
Heart Warning: High

3. El Trapiche, Paraguay 5099, Palermo

taking a rest at El Trapiche

We knew we were onto a good thing when we saw this charming old place was filled with Argentine families stocking up on their weekly quota of fresh red meat (Argentines eat, on average, 64kg of beef each year. That’s 1.2 kilograms per week).

Feeling a little crazy, we mixed things up by ordering a sausage to go with our two large bife de chorizo steaks. Mistake. It took the focus off the main attraction and, quite frankly, pushed the limits of human consumption. Still, the steaks were pretty amazing – tender, pink and full of flavour. We passed on dessert.

El Trapiche, Paraguay 5099, Palermo
Price: 60 pesos
Approximate Size: 300g (+ 100g sausage)
Heart Warning: High

2. Parrilla 1880, Defensa 1665, San Telmo

Parrilla 1880

Just out of the tourist heart of San Telmo, this little parilla has a laid back local feel with friendly service to match. The steaks were anything but laid-back – at close to half a kilogram this was one of the biggest pieces of food I’ve ever faced. To cook a steak this tick to perfection is no easy task, but the chef here came pretty close. I licked the plate clean then waddled out the door.

Parrilla 1880, Defensa 1665, San Telmo
Price: 65 pesos
Approximate Size: 450g
Heart Warning: Extreme

1. Grappa Cantina, El Salvador 5802, Palermo

Grappa Cantina

We stumbled across this place while (foolishly) looking for an Armenian restaurant and were drawn to the old world ambiance – high ceilings, wooden floorboards, long bar – and the promise of good steaks. The Armenian was put on hold.

Grappa Cantina is an Italian restaurant by name, but the menu has a decidedly Argentinian skew. At almost 70 pesos this steak – a 300g bife de chorizo with mustard sauce – was the most expensive of our stay, but it was also the best. Succulent, thick, flawlessly presented and bursting with flavour. We came back on a last night in Buenos Aires just to check that we’d got it right. Yes, this was our best steak in Buenos Aires.

Grappa Cantina, El Salvador 5802, Palermo
Price: 68 pesos
Approximate Size: 300g
Heart Warning: Medium

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James Schloeffel
As a child James was subjected to endless anecdotes about his parents' trip along the Hippy Trail "back in the 70s". The brainwashing worked and James has been an avid traveller ever since. Argentina has always been on 'the list' and James realised the dream of spending a month in Buenos Aires in late 2010. James is a freelance writer who has worked for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Melbourne Age, Real Travel and MSN Travel.


4 responses to “In search of the perfect Steak – Best Buenos Aires steaks

  1. Oddly enough, the best vacio (flank) I've eaten in BsAs (and let's just say I've eaten a *lot* of vacio) was in the canteen at Makro cash & carry, nr the Panamericana. Which just goes to prove something, though I've no idea what.

    You're right about Disco. Not only does their meat taste ok but their shelf stackers are smart enough not to put the brains and guts and pig's heads right among the prime cuts. The shelf stackers at Coto are not smart enough not to do that.

  2. Bev says:

    Heading over to grappa now. Hungry

  3. Thomas says:

    Great list, I especially like Don Julio. Good service and wine list. Another option if you want to try food at smaller local places and also learn a little about the cuisine and culture of Argentina is the Parrilla Tour, a food tour of authentic restaurants. parrillatour.com

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