Working the grill at Cabana Las Lilas in the Puerto Madero neighborhood, Buenos Aires. To successfully order rare steak in BA, start practicing: vuelta y vuelta
Hold out your hand. Make a fist. Now imagine a filet mignon bigger than your fist, dripping pink-red on the inside, charred crisp and crunchy on the outside, screaming COW in every tender bite. That was my first Argentine steak, and my-oh-my did it deliver on my expectations. (And yes, I ate it all).
Anyone who thinks grass-fed beef can't be tender hasn't had this mignon at Cabana Las Lilas, one of the preeminent steak houses in Buenos Aires. On the recommendation of R.W. Apple, J and I descended on this institution our first night in town. Cabana's steaks come from the restaurant's very own estancia (ranch); though we turned on the charm, J and I were not offered a private flight to the ranch like Mr. Apple.
Serious eating takes place at an Argentine parilla (steakhouse), you must prepare yourself. Cabana Las Lilas starts you out with a complimentary tray of small bits--roasted tomatoes, beef carpacchio, dome of roquefort, some salmon--as well as bazillions of breads. Breads in a basket, bread on its own stand, bread from the dedicated bread man popping over your shoulder with his tongs.
Our last meal in town was as fabulously steak-y as our first, this time in the Palermo neighborhood at La Cabrera. We shared a long strip loin steak that came with a dizzying array of small porcelain dishes filled with all sorts of wonders--roasted eggplant and peppers, applesauce, brined garlic cloves, pickled onions. We made it through this one too, though J did the heavy lifting.
In case that wasn't enough to stop your heart in its tracks, you'd want to take a day trip over to Colonia, Uruguay and order the steak milanese at a waterside cafe. On top of your thinly pounded, breaded and fried steak, you'll get....a slice of ham....a melted slice of cheese...and....no shit...a fried egg.
The best part? You can eat like the biggest movie mogul in town for mere pennies. At La Cabrera, we shared a chorizo (the traditional start to an asada), a big bowl of potatos, the steak, bottled water, two espressos, a dulche de leche flan, and a bottle of Malbec. Total? 52 bucks, 25 of which was the Malbec.