Newcomers to Buenos Aires are always eager to head to the nearest parrilla to grab a steak, but don’t forget that there’s a lot more on the menu that you’ll want to be certain not to overlook:
First thing’s first: if you’re new to Buenos Aires and want to try everything, your best bet is to try the “parrillada” – this is often available for 2 or 4 people, and will include small portions of quite a few different cuts of meat. Every place is a bit different and what they give you depends a little on what they have on the grill at the time. Usually you’ll get chorizo and morcilla (sausage and blood sausage, respectively), chinchulines (intestine), riñones (kidney), pollo (chicken), tira de asado and vació (two popular cuts of steak), and you may get cerdo (pork), entraña (another cut of steak), mollejas (sweetbread) and grilled vegetables as well. This will be a great introduction to what’s popular here so you can have an idea what to order in the future. Some people might feel a little squeamish about trying the other parts of the cow, but the parrillada brings them in fairly small portions so you have the opportunity to sample just a little and then decide if you like it or not.
– Choripan (chorizo + pan, sausage on bread) – Now I’m sure you’re thinking “sausage is nothing new, why should I care?” You should care because as soon as you put a chorizo on some bread and some chimichurri (the sauce we use for parrilla food), it is transformed into one of the most magnificent snacks under the sun: the choripan. It sounds mundane, but trust me: after one bite, you’ll be converted.
– Provoleta (slab of provolone cheese) – a very thick slice of cheese it put on the grill – it gets a little bit melty and parts of it get toasty and crispy, and it’s often served with a sprinkling of oregano and other herbs, and it is fantastic. But it can be a lot for one person (especially if you want to leave room for something else), so plan to share.
Finally, a quick translation of the different cuts so that you know what you’re ordering:
Asado – Ribs
Asado de Tira – Short Ribs
Bife de chorizo – strip steak (NY Strip)
Bife/bola de lomo – Tenderloin
Colita de Cuadril – Tri-tip
Cuadril – Rump Steak
Entraña – Skirt steak
Matambre – Flank Steak (long, thin cut)
Ojo de bife – Ribeye
Pecho – brisket
Vacío – Flank
Finally, if you feel that your meal won’t be balanced, nearly every parrilla has a salad option so you can add some veggies into the mix. A common option is to pick any three ingredients for a fixed price, although don’t expect to have a lot of options for the dressing.