You’ve been walking all morning, taking in the sights and sounds of San Telmo, the oldest neighborhood of Buenos Aires. The antiques market at Mercado de San Telmo, the tango dancers in Plaza Dorrego square made you hungry and longing for a merciful rest. Use the last of your strength to make your way to the corner of Chile and Perú streets and grab a table at Gran Parrilla del Plata.
Gran Parrilla del Plata occupies the ground floor of an Art Nouveau building, a characteristic architectural style of the area. Back in the 1930s, the building used to house a butcher’s shop called Grandes Carnicerías del Plata. Some of the original features, like the limestone floors, meat hooks, and the majolica tiles, remain and add to its old-world charm.
Now, to the food. When you sit down, a waiter brings a bread basket, a dip, and a small bowl with garlicky butter beans to whet your appetite. Argentineans like to eat provoleta as a starter. It consists of a thick slice of provolone cheese grilled until crispy outside and gooey inside. Even Michelle Obama couldn’t resist it!
The star of the show is the beef. After all, you’re in Argentina! Bife de chorizo–New York strip is probably the most requested kind of steak. It’s juicy, tender and packed with beefy flavor. Another popular and tasty cut is vacío, or flank steak, which can be so tender that people compare it to butter and exclaim “¡Es una manteca!”
Asado de tira is another huge favorite with locals and visitors alike. The beef ribs are cut into one or two-inch-wide strips and grilled to perfection. Some people are partial to the bondiola de cerdo, or pork shoulder. The meats are grilled on a charcoal grill, which lends a rich smoky flavor.
Add another layer of savor, by slathering the meat with any of these three sauces (or all three!) brought to the table with the main course: chimichurri, provenzal (chopped fresh garlic and parsley in oil), and salsa criolla (chopped fresh tomatoes, onion and red pepper mixed with oil and vinegar). Sides include fries and salads.
If you’d rather skip the beef, fear not. Gran Parrilla del Plata serves delicious homemade pasta, like spinach and parmesan ravioli. Whatever dish you order will be tasty and quintessentially Argentinean.
Chile 594, Buenos Aires, open every day 12 pm to 4 pm and 8 pm until the last customers leave. It stays open all day Sunday.
Ana Astri-O’Reilly is a fully bilingual travel blogger and writer originally from Argentina. She now lives in Dallas, USA, with her husband. Besides writing on her travel blogs, Ana Travels and Apuntes Ideas Imagenes, Ana has published travel and food articles in a variety of outlets. You can follow her on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Ana Astri-O’Reilly