When visiting a new place Anh and I thrash through town eating as much as we possibly can. We try to experience as many restaurants and street vendors serving local cuisines as our stomachs allow us. We become food critics in our own mind. Buenos Aires was no different and it did not disappoint. In our other posts you will see our culinary adventures laid out, but we thought that there were two places TOO GOOD to not write about on their own, Parrilla Pena and Cumano.
Parrilla Dinner (Steakhouse Dinner) – Parrilla Pena
When visiting Argentina, it is a 100% must that you go out for a nice steak dinner. In the states we sit down at a steakhouse and pay $60 per steak…easy, then another $50 for a bottle of wine. Well not in Buenos Aires. Two things that there is an abundance of in Argentina is beef and wine, and you won’t have to pay a premium for it either! Anh will never admit it, but I think this is how I got her to come to South America in the first place.
We set off on our Friday night thinking we could have a nice steak dinner and then head to the clubs. We went to Parrilla Pena, in the Recolleta district of Buenos Aires. It was nice but not pretentious and was filled with friends ordering wine and sharing big platters of meat. Anh and I ordered a bottle of wine, garlic fries, a Bife de Chorizo (New York Strip), a Ojo de Bife (Rib Eye), and a liter of Stella to wash it all down. What we didn’t realize was that the steaks were each going to be about 16 oz, and the fries were piled a mile high. Of course we sat there for a couple of hours munching on the perfectly cooked medium steaks and enjoying each other’s company! It was one of the best steaks I have had anywhere in the world. The best part was when I got the bill it didn’t feel like I got punched in the gut. The tab including tip was right around $65 USD. Why so cheap? Simple supply and demand. Argentina is a net exporter of beef and wine, and have a surplus of both. The equivalent of Napa valley is only a few hour drive from the capital city, and most of the rest of Argentina is filled with cattle farms! So, we took advantage, ate and drank until we can hardly breathe anymore – like a true American!
We went out in search of a traditional Argentinian dinner that wasn’t just steak and all signs pointed to a restaurant called Cumana. It was nestled in the middle of the Recoletta district and with its marigold and red decor, gave a very warm inviting feeling. The menu was in Spanish (no touristy English versions here) so it was the luck of the draw on what we ordered being that we only recognize 1/3 of the words on it. We ended up ordering Cazuela de Mondongo Argentino and Cazuela de Locro, two AMAZING dishes that had such complex yet homey flavor. Cazuela de Locro is a stew-like dish made of pancetta, chorizo, tripe, garbanzo, onions, tomatoes, pepper, white wine, vinegar, and various herbs. Cazuela de Mondong is casserole-like with pancetta, chorizo, steak, pureed pumpkin, onions, eggplant, and a hint of cinnamon. Those dishes along with Roquefort empanadas to start (prob my favorite in South America) and some sodas, all for just $16 USD total! Goes to prove that good food in BA does not have a hefty price tag – bonus for gastronomics on a budget like us!
We basically licked the bowls clean. No shame.