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Buenos Aires Steak


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I will be In Buenos Aires at the end of a hiking/running trip through Patagonia over Christmas and New Years. I love steak and am anxiously reading about the local beef. I want to go to the "best Place". Many recommend Cabana Las Lilas.

We will be with a group so I can get away one or max two times. RR

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If you want a completely touristy experience, and outrageous prices, then yes, Cabana Las Lilas is a great bet. It's excellent steak, but bluntly, the check is just legalized robbery.

There is no "best" place here in the city. There are lots of really good parrillas (steakhouses) and lots and lots of just average ones. A lot of it will come down to the particular cut of beef you're interested in - some places do one better than others. Take a look at my blog and the restaurant reviews by cuisine section to get a sense of my thoughts on some of them.

Off the top of my head, if it's not just about the steak, but about a Buenos Aires dining experience, I'd head for places like El Trapiche or El Obrero - you won't get much more authentic, and the food is quite good. If you want something trendy and modern, try Miranda. If you don't care about what it does to your wallet, by all means head to Las Lilas...

Edited by saltshaker (log)

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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Saltshaker, I'm going to try to say this in a way that isn't offensive, but it's hard. Please understand that I don't mean any offense, though.

What you have to understand is that if you're from the United States (as it looks like RRainey probably is), given the current exchange rate (and stupidly high U.S. domestic restaurant prices), Cabana Las Lilas doesn't do anything to your wallet. I know it sounds harsh, but it's just the truth. I know it doesn't seem that way if you live down there, but I can tell you from experience that it seems that way to us.

Touristy experience, can't disagree with you about that. But if you want the best steak, irrespective of the money, it's got to be in consideration.

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Saltshaker, I'm going to try to say this in a way that isn't offensive, but it's hard.  Please understand that I don't mean any offense, though.

What you have to understand is that if you're from the United States (as it looks like RRainey probably is), given the current exchange rate (and stupidly high U.S. domestic restaurant prices), Cabana Las Lilas doesn't do anything to your wallet.  I know it sounds harsh, but it's just the truth.  I know it doesn't seem that way if you live down there, but I can tell you from experience that it seems that way to us.

Touristy experience, can't disagree with you about that.  But if you want the best steak, irrespective of the money, it's got to be in consideration.

I have to agree with SaltShaker on that one. Cabaña Las Lilas indeed is a tourist spot.

I would not consider it, at any price point, among the top spots in BA for good meat.

There are much better places, like La Cabrera or La Brigada, IMHO.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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Thanks for the info. I would like an authentic dining experience. El Obrero looks great!! I like to eat my steak rare and have a very big appetite which steak would you recommend? what sort of a winelist do they have- any specific recomendations there?

I realize that folks eat late IN BA, and I know that "when in Rome,do as the romans do" but there is no way that I could go along with dinner finishing past midnight. When in Italy we usually eat our main meal at lunch as even 8pm to start dinner is late for us. We wake up at 5am most days and 6am when we are sleeping in on a Sunday. RR

Edited by RRainey (log)
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You can do that. But wherever you go will be almost completely empty. And the few people there will be fellow tourists.

PS -- Just for the record, I wasn't arguing that Cabana Las Lilas was necessarily the top choice. I'm sure there are places that serve better steak in BA (and I'd love to find out about them -- like La Cabrera and La Brigada). But Saltshaker wasn't saying the other places he was recommending had better steaks. In fact, he admitted they had worse steaks. He was only saying that Cabana Las Lilas was too expensive.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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And just so you can see that I'm not being snobby as a North American, a couple of nights ago I went out to dinner at a new restaurant here in New York, where I live. The prices on the a la carte menu were so high that I couldn't afford them. I had to order a special "tasting" menu. But the people sitting next to me were from the EU, and since they were spending exchanged Euros rather than dollars, they were able to order whatever they wanted. I would never dream of complaining to them that the a la carte menu was too expensive. If you were paying in Euros, like they were (and I wasn't), it wasn't that expensive at all.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Sneak, I don't take any offense. But, I am from New York City. I lived there for most of the last three decades and I go back and forth several times a year, so I know what prices are like. Cabaña Las Lilas is a ripoff, and not just for the price, but in relation to the quality. It's not like they have some monopoly on the best beef in the country or have some amazing grill man who can cook a steak better than anyone else in town. They have very good quality steaks, no question. But equal quality steaks are available from other locations and at significantly lower prices (and if it's of any interest, I'm a professional chef, and a restaurant critic). While I understand how you arrived at the inference that I was saying the other places I recommended had "worse" steaks, it was a logical leap - I wasn't implying that, I was merely suggesting that you could go to Las Lilas and spend lots to get a great steak - that doesn't equal that spending less somewhere else means getting worse. I don't deny anyone their right to overspend on dinner, and I've done my share of it over the years, but if someone asks, I will give them my opinion about having better options - whether they, or you, choose to pay any attention to them is in truth, their/your option.

I'd also agree with SillyD on La Cabrera, La Brigada, and I'd add in Des Nivel as well. I have a bit of an ethical problem with La Brigada as I have friends "of color" who have been refused admittance at the door, and I no longer go there, but I must admit their steaks are top-notch.

Rainey - the problem you'll run into at non-tourist restaurants is that they simply won't be open. I'm not sure what El Obrero's hours, for example, are - they're open for lunch and then they close around 3:30. My guess would be they don't even open again for dinner until about 8:30/9:00. And, like most places, probably won't get busy until 10:00 or later. But so what - go when they open, be their first customer, linger over your dinner a bit, and by the time you leave it'll be busy and you'll get the atmosphere part too, and still be out of there by, say, 11 or 11:30. In terms of steak - really your choice, comes down to the cut you like. I love entraña, or hanger steak, but I would never turn down one of the other cuts! If you want something thick and juicy, probably a bife de chorizo, which is more or less like a porterhouse in the states.

Edited by saltshaker (log)

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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I'd also agree with SillyD on La Cabrera, La Brigada, and I'd add in Des Nivel as well. I have a bit of an ethical problem with La Brigada as I have friends "of color" who have been refused admittance at the door, and I no longer go there, but I must admit their steaks are top-notch.

Definitely, I forgot to mention El Desnivel, great meat.

SShaker, which La Brigada was this? It is not only incredibly distasteful on their part, it is also ridiculous and stupid, since both the San Telmo and the Recoleta branches have a considerable number of tourist clients every day.

Cut-wise, I love entraña (hanger steak), lomo (filet mignon), bife de chorizo (porterhouse steak), matambre (SShaker, what's the proper translation?). If you like offal, don't miss the chance, Argies love the 'achuras' (as we call them), like mollejas (sweetbreads), riñoncito (kidney), chinchulines (intestine), etc.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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It happened twice to personal friends of mine, specifically mestizo (i.e., mixed Indian/Spanish) friends, who are often treated as second class citizens in Buenos Aires, unfortunately, and both times at the San Telmo location. The two things that made it worse were, first, that the door guard is also mestizo, so is discriminating against his own community, and then, the owner is a friend of a friend of mine, and I passed on my thoughts afterwards (semi-politely, and I'm sure my friend ensured that they were even more polite than I managed) and the owner's response was apparently a shrug and some sort of justification based on "the way those people usually are."

SD - matambre in the case of a cut of meat is a flank steak, more or less. Then, of course, there's the matambre that's the wonderful rolled up flank steak around vegetables, herbs, and eggs...

Cuts of beef are different here than in the States, they just simply cut the cow up differently. A good basic example is here: Cortes de Carne

Edited by saltshaker (log)

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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I'd feel bad if I didn't step in here and put in a plug for Parilla 1880. Man, I love that place. I enjoyed it MUCH more than La Brigada. Just booked my next trip to BA. Will be there for almost 2 weeks with no plans but to wander, eat and drink. :cool: In addition to 1880, I'll probably consider stopping in at DesNivel, but I've just NEVER had any interest in ever visiting Las Lilas.

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How serious a meal is lunch?.I would just as soon have lunch at 3PM and stuff myself,then get something light before bed, most likely at my hotel. Would it be considerd wierd to order a bottle of wine,appetizers and a steak for lunch?

New Years eve would be the exception,as this year I may stay up(believe it or not I don't think I have been up for new Years in 10 years) but won't that be extremely crowded?

Are there wine bars that focus on wine(I am married) instead of the scene?

which do you recommend? RR

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Not at all, in fact, I'd guess that other than maybe on a Friday or Saturday night, many of us tend to eat bigger lunches than dinners. I know a lot of folk who make lunch their main meal, right down to three courses including steak, bottle of wine; and just have a light dinner late in the evening, maybe just a salad, or some takeout Chinese food... Plan on, however, that there's a certain level of "siesta" culture - many restaurants close up around 3 and then reopen later for dinner, just as many other businesses close up from about 1:30 to 4:00...

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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  • 1 month later...

Add another vote from a local that doesnt think Cabaña Las Lilas is worth the price. Yes, the beef is good, sometimes even very good, but its way overpriced. They are sleeping on their laurels, and its a damned shame.

I think Parrilla 1880 is a great place, so I second the above recommendation.

Visit Argentina and try wines from the RIGHT side of the Andes !!!

www.terroir.com.ar

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:biggrin: Count me in for a vote against Cabaña Las Lillas. Whatever the quality of the meat, the prices are indeed highway robbery and, further, they rush you through the meal.

I would go with La Brigada in San Telmo. I find it hard the charge of racial discrimination extremely hard to believe. As someone noted, there are plenty of parillas that are worth trying. In Palermo Viejo, I suggest Don Julio. If Cabaña Las Lillas is cheap for tourists with green cash, then here they are giving the food away for pennies.

I also find the argument that prices are cheap for foreigners offensive. Argentines and expats live in this country. Most of them earn devalued Argentine pesos and do not eat in Cabaña Las Lillas. It is a shame that increasingly prices and restaurants are aiming at tourists.

Pizzaboy

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I'll second the Don Julio recommendation, had forgotten about that - plus a great wine selection. Also, I don't think I mentioned above, El Trapiche, which I like quite a bit.

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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I also find the argument that prices are cheap for foreigners offensive.

I don't want to belabor this, but only because I don't want to offend anyone:

I live in New York. When someone visiting from Europe asks for restaurant recommendations, I give them a different list than I do to someone who lives here. Because I know that certain places that are a stretch for us locals are, because of favorable exchange rates, much more affordable to the visitors.

In other words, when recommending restaurants to visiting Europeans, I pretty much take expense out of the equation, because I know they'll be spending "cheap" money. I'd recommend places to them that I'd have to caution my fellow locals cost a lot.

I don't see myself as insulting myself, or my fellow New Yorkers, when I do that. If you guys in BA feel differently, I really apologize. I love your city and certainly don't want to insult you.

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I have to admit, I don't find it insulting or offensive, but, I do think that it's a very skewed view of the culture here. It would sort of be like telling visitors that the only places you recommend to eat in New York are Masa, Ducasse, Per Se, Daniel, and Le Bernardin because that's where they'll get a true New York experience. Truthfully, what they'll get is an experience that isn't really New York specific, but is about those particular restaurants, which could just as easily be in other high end tourist destinations.

While I understand your point, I always approached (when I was in NYC) and approach (here in BA) from the viewpoint that most people are coming here to experience the local culture and something more "authentic" - like El Obrero, Don Julio, El Trapiche, or other similar places. If all someone wants is to come here so that they can eat steaks cheaper than in New York but at a place that visually could be back in New York, they ought to take into account the cost of the plane fare and hotel rate when looking at whether they're eating a cheaper steak... What's special about Buenos Aires is being able to go to a real old-line parrilla, with grill smoke and waiters who've been there for a zillion years, surrounded by locals, drinking decent but not fancified "international style" wines - or something along those lines - and get away with a full three course dinner for 35 pesos a person. (Just as in New York I would have taken folks to places like the 2nd Avenue Deli, or a hole-in-the-wall in the west village, or a Chelsea club-resto..., or, back a few years ago to Windows on the World - for the view, at least)

RR - for the places we've been talking about:

Don Julio: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=802

El Obrero: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=410

El Trapiche: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=418

1880: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=1059

Actually, you'll be able to find most restaurants of note here on guiaoleo.com.ar or on restaurants.com.ar - and, of course, many of them on my own site! :smile:

SaltShaker - Casting a little flavor (and a few aspersions) on the world of food, drink, and life

Casa SaltShaker - Restaurant de Puertas Cerradas

Spanish-English-Spanish Food & Wine Dictionary - a must for any traveler!

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I agree with you 100%, saltshaker. I would never recommend only the most expensive places to anyone. I agree with you about the importance of having less expensive, more characteristic experiences. All I'm saying is that there are places I'd put in the mix for someone to whom expense isn't a consideration that I wouldn't necessarily push to others.

Remember the context in which I made my regrettable remarks: my misunderstanding that you were telling visitors to avoid Las Lilas ONLY on grounds of price. I.e., not that you were saying that one could do better on grounds of absolute quality, but only that they charge too much. If I understood you correctly to begin with -- and it was my fault that I didn't -- I'd never have said that stuff.

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you were telling visitors to avoid Las Lilas ONLY on grounds of price.  I.e., not that you were saying that one could do better on grounds of absolute quality, but only that they charge too much.  If I understood you correctly to begin with -- and it was my fault that I didn't -- I'd never have said that stuff.

As a matter of fact, I think I would recommend visitors to avoid Las Lilas regardless of price, ie even if it was cheaper than other options already mentioned in this thread. Quality-wise is not up to par, and sadly it has become not much more than a tourist trap.

We''ve opened Pazzta 920, a fresh pasta stall in the Boqueria Market. follow the thread here.

My blog, the Adventures of A Silly Disciple.

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I am linking this article -- a posthumous publication by the recently deceased, legendary reporter and eater R.W. Apple -- only to show you guys what a tremendous reputation Cabana Las Lilas has here in the United States. (Which obviously doesn't make it any less of a tourist trap.)

http://travel2.nytimes.com/2006/10/22/trav...html?ref=travel

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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