I had more than one cabbie tell me “it’s not a meal without un buen bife.” Though a lot of taxistas insisted that the best steaks came from their own barbecues, they also led me to some of Buenos Aires’ finest cheap parrillas.
Here are my five favorites, in random order:
1. Don Zoilo (Honorio Pueyrredon 1406, esquina Luis Viale, Villa Crespo – Map it). Though the Metropolis of Beef is bursting with hundreds of parrillas, it’s easy to understand why Don Zoilo is one of taxista Jorge’s steak houses of choice. Nestled in a neighborhood off the tourist track, this restaurant has built a loyal following thanks to a tasty bife de chorizo and inflation-defying prices. If you’re craving something sweet after your steak, the lemon-infused natilla is a tasty way to top off your meal.
2. El Puestito del Tío – (Dorrego 3000 block between Figueroa Alcorta and Av. Leopoldo Lugones, Palermo – Map it). I forgave reggaetón-loving taxista Luis for trying to take me to the food court at the Jumbo-Easy shopping complex after he delivered me to this roadside food stand in the Bosques de Palermo. Between the female grill master (in pink scrubs) and the perfectly cooked sandwich de churrasco (skirt steak sandwich), I was instantly hooked on the bargain bites at this popular carrito.
3. Parrilla Peña (Rodriguez Peña 682, Tribunales – Map it). I’ll always be grateful to taxista Enrique for delivering me here on my first taxi adventure – and I’ll never forget the bife de lomo I tasted on my first visit. It was perfect – just like every steak I ever tried at this popular parrilla. If I had one day in Buenos Aires and could only visit one steak house, this one would probably be it.
4. El Nuevo Castel’s (Avenida Entre Ríos 946, San Cristóbal – Map it). “It’s cheap, the food is always good, and everything is made to order,” taxista Walter said of this dingy restaurant in a dicey neighborhood, “After midnight, it’s almost all taxistas.” Skip the lasagne and the supremas and go straight to bife de chorizo a la riojana (sirloin steak covered with ham and a fried egg). The one I tried was inch-thick and grilled to a gorgeous medium rare. For a safer dining experience, go during the day.
5. El Litoral (Moreno 2201, esquina Pasco, Balvanera – Map it). The journey to El Litoral, with the part-time sculptor and full-time dad Rene, was as remarkable as the sandwich de vacio that the cabbie recommended when we got there. Popular with taxistas and workers in the barrio, this corner parrilla is short on atmosphere but long on cheap, delicious beef in various incarnations. Bife de costilla (t-bone steak) is great here.
What’s your favorite Buenos Aires steak house? Leave a comment and I’ll add it to my Buenos Aires food map.