My wife Jun and I took a year-end vacation to Argentina, with stops in Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Ushuaia in the Patagonia region. We had a lot of fun hiking through beautiful scenery, walking with the penguins and, of course, eating a lot of delicious food. Argentina is of course well-known for its meats at the so-called parrillas, and there were so many choices when I looked up the list of best restaurants in Buenos Aires to visit. One place that constantly came up was La Carniceria in the Palermo neighborhood that is viewed as one of the more contemporary versions of the parrilla tradition, so I decided to give this place a try for the first meal in our Argentina trip. It also turned out that the restaurant was two minutes away on foot from the hotel Jun and I were staying at. While not all the dishes worked, there was no question that the restaurant’s signature steak absolutely delivered.
We probably should’ve listened to our server who said one large main dish for sharing would be enough, especially when we were ordering two appetizer dishes. Between the two appetizers, we both really enjoyed the homemade chorizo accompanied by mini potatoes, green peas and fried eggs. The chorizo’s texture was spot on, and the slightly salty flavor worked actually quite well with the bottle of red Malbec we opened up. On the other hand, while I thought the caramelized sweetbreads were solid, Jun found them to not capably capture the gamey flavor of the chicken. Now onto the big stuffs. If you absolutely have to order one dish, go for the parrilla cut rib-eye with squash and chimichurri sauce. This massive chunk of meat was really a thing of beauty. While there were rather large areas of fat on the edge, once you remove them carefully you will be rewarded with amazing meats that were more or less cooked to perfection with medium rare temperature we requested, with minimal seasoning other than sprinkles of salt on top.
If you feel guilty with eating all this meat, add a side of cabbage whose citrusy flavor worked beautifully with the rib-eye. When I had visited steakhouses before, the side vegetables were usually afterthoughts but not in this case; this meat-vegetable combo was quite fantastic. It also helped that, given the recent inflation Argentina that led to an extremely favorable exchange rate between U.S. dollars and Argentinian pesos (it was hovering around 60 pesos per USD during our visit), we got this impressive meat at just around $30! We probably should’ve stopped here but got a little greedy (and probably didn’t appreciate how large the rib-eye would be) and ordered another dish, a smoked cut featuring a large piece of rib. Not only were we starting to get full by the time we got to the rib but it was actually not quite as delicious as the rib-eye or other BBQ ribs we had eaten elsewhere in New York City (we both found the meat’s texture a little too dry). It was a shame we didn’t get to the dessert at the end.
It’s highly recommended that you get a reservation at La Carniceria. Unless you are prepared to give them a call, they are kind of hard to reach via email or Instagram DM; I was able to use the concierge service of my credit card company to secure a spot for us and was glad I did once I saw the modestly-sized dining room packed in full, with many English-speaking tourists. One thing to be mindful when dining in Argentina is that many restaurants tend to open late; we were seated on the earliest slot which was 8:00 p.m.; given our habit of dining at restaurants no later than 7:00 p.m. these days, we felt quite bloated afterwards (it didn’t help we had to sleep right away so we could catch an early morning flight to Iguazu Falls the next day). Our server spoke English in a serviceable manner, but I’m pretty sure some things got lost in translation. When you are at an Argentinian parrilla to eat meat, no wine probably works like the red Malbec; La Carniceria had a fairly extensive selection with varying price ranges. Do yourself a favor and order a bottle. La Carniceria is worth a visit during your trip to Buenos Aires if you want to have delicious meats in a trendy but not overly ostentatious setting. Just beware of the size of the meats you will be getting.
KenScale: 8.25/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.50/10
Address: Thames 2317, C1425FIG, Buenos Aires, Argentina