Argentina- land of the cows and home to the meat eaters. There’s no place for vegetarians in Argentina. In this country, carnivore is king.
Any decent foodie knows the famed reputation of a quality grass-fed Argentinean steak. It’s a culture known for its dedication to the art of red meat. Beef, pork, ribs, lamb, chorizo, blood sausage, sweetbread- you name it, they’ve perfected it.
Considering the average Argentine eats approximately 129 pounds [59 kg] of beef a year, I would hope they’d have it down by now…
“Asado” and “parrilla” are crucial words in an Argentinean’s vocabulary. A parrilla is a metal grill that is very common in most Argentinean homes, apartment buildings and restaurants. It consists of two parts- a simple iron grate and a separate space to the right for a fire. The grill is usually warmed by wood or hot coals that are maintained separately on the side of the “grilling area” and when the coals are hot and ready they are transferred beneath the cooking grate. The Argentine asado, or barbecue, is more than just a meal, but an all day social event centered on the activities of cooking on the parrilla and eating themselves.
I’m not a huge red meat-eater. I don’t cook it, and rarely gravitate towards it on a menu. It’s not that I don’t like it, I’m just more of a chicken, fish and veggie kind of gal. But when you visit Argentina, you put those insignificant preferences aside. Vegan, vegetarian, health-conscience, whatever. You don’t deny a heavenly slab of tender, juicy sirloin perfection.
But when visiting the massive Argentinean capital, bursting to the brim with parrilla restaurants around every corner turned, how do you choose?
Taking a Parrilla Tour will help you weed out all the pricey low-quality tourist traps and find the smaller hidden gems where the real asado magic happens. You’ll get an inside look into the culture of the “asado” and the “parrilla,” learn the ins and outs of famed Argentinean meats and get to know a cool area along the way.
David, cofounder and guide at Parrilla Tour, led us around the San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, an area known for its preserved authentic feel and classic historic charm. San Telmo is BA’s oldest neighborhood, characterized by cobblestone streets, colonial architecture, antique fairs and tango parlors, a traditional Argentine scene frozen in time.
During our two-and-a-half hour tour we made five stops at very different restaurants and got a great introduction to the local gastronomy and culture of Argentine cuisine. It really helped having David walk us through the process, knowing exactly where to go and specifically what to order off each menu.
First Stop- Spanish Inspired Empanadas
Our meeting place and the first stop on our San Telmo food tour was at a true hole-in-the-wall, mom and pop-style joint. It is one of those places you’d be sure to walk right on by without a second thought. The home-style eatery is family owned, has been around for as long as anyone can remember and is known for having the best empanadas in town.
Here we sampled a homemade Spanish-inspired empanada filled with beef, green onion, cumin and potato. David explained to us that each of Argentina’s 24 provinces is known for a different style of empanadas and this onion-potato-beef mixture is typical to Buenos Aires. The empanada was fresh out of the oven, baked, rather than fried, soft, juicy and so full of flavor!
Second Stop- Mercado San Telmo
On our way to stop number three, we went for a quick stroll through San Telmo’s traditonal market. Mercado San Telmo was built in 1897 and is inside an old Italian-style open iron building. It is set up flea-market style, made up of different food stalls, cafés, restaurants and small shops. David walked us through the market so we could see the local butchers and food vendors in action. He introduced us to some local produce and explained some of the typical ingredients that go into Argentinian cooking.
Third Stop- Choripán and Chimmichurri
Our third stop was at another traditional-style family owned establishment, where we got to try another Argentine classic- CHORIPAN! I already knew all about choripán from my Chilean asado experiences, but of course I was more than happy to try another.
Choripán is a typical South American sandwich, popular in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Peru. The sandwich’s name comes from simply combining its two main ingredients “chori,” from chorizo sausage and “pan” from the Spanish word for bread. Each country does their choripán a little differently. In Argentina, choripán was originally served as an asado appetizer, to hold over guests during the all-day grilling process. The sausage is served hot off the grill on a fresh flakey bun, sliced in half lengthwise and usually doused in chimmichurri, a typical spicy oil-based sauce. Today choripán is still a popular appetizer and is also often eaten as a street snack.
Fourth Stop- A Parrilla Style Lunch
Stop four, our main and longest stop of the day, consisted of an abridged version of a sit down Argentinian Parrilla style lunch. Here we got a real taste of an authentic parrilla experience. We started with “provoleta,” (a typical Argentine appetizer of locally produced cow’s milk cheese that is seasoned, grilled, and served communally with bread) followed by an arugula and Parmesan salad and then a sampling of two different cuts of grilled Argentine steak. The meal was paired with a light smooth Malbec from the Mendoza wine region of Argentina and topped off with a refreshing glass of bubbly champagne.
Yeah, I know, the abridged version was still quite a marathon …
Over and over I sunk my teeth into mouthwatering parrilla delicacies. Steak so tender it melted in my mouth, sauces so flavorful my taste buds jumped for joy. Truly heaven- parrilla style.
Fifth Stop- Artisanal Sweet Treats
To wrap up our tour on a sweet note, we made our final stop at a local artisanal ice cream shop. By this point I was already pretty full, but let’s be serious, there’s always room for ice cream.
All of the ice cream in this shop was Italian-inspired and completely homemade. The owners often rotate flavors to test test out different unique combinations such as vanilla honey ginger and flan with dulce de leche.
There were too many interesting flavors to choose from, so being the indecisive eater that I am, I asked the shop keeper for her two favorites. She suggested two very distinct, very different flavors, but I went for it. She ended up suggesting one that wasn’t even on the menu yet, score! I had a rich dark chocolate with coffee chunks topped with a light and creamy passion fruit. Weirdly, they complimented each other pretty nicely!
After an afternoon of indulgence, I have to say a big thanks to Parrilla Tour, for slightly increasing my risk of heart disease. Still, I have to admit, it was worth each and every bite!
Parrilla Tour Practical Information
Parrilla Tours are offered in two different popular BA neighborhoods, Palermo and San Telmo. Tours in Palermo are available Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 12PM with an additional time on Tuesday night at 7:30PM. San Telmo tours are offered Mondays and Wednesdays at 12PM. Each tour will visit 3 authentic local eateries and end at an artisanal ice cream shop. The tours last about 2.5 hours.
Interested in taking a Parrilla Food Tour? Pin and save for later!
Disclaimer: Parrilla Tour graciously invited me as a guest on their tour for purposes of this post. Still, as always, all opinions expressed are my own. I would only recommend something that I genuinely felt would benefit my readers.
Welcome to Wanderful Wednesdays!
Consider yourself a wanderer?! Well then, this Blog Hop is for you!
Meet your hosts: Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World.
Here on Wanderful Wednesday we hope to promote an open and supportive community for like-minded bloggers- expats, travelers and all kinds of wanderers!
The linkup will take place every Wednesday at 8AM GMT.
Wanderful Wednesday Guidelines:
- Link up a wanderful travel related post below! One per blogger per week please!
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This week I’m highlighting 9 Works of Art that Move Me by Christy of What up, Swags?! I’m not usually a museum/art person, but I really love how she made the explanation of each piece her own. It was really interesting to see why each was so special to her, and even made me appreciate them more! If you haven’t already, be sure to go check out her post and spread the love! Thanks for linking up with us SWAGS!
Happy Hopping Friends! 😀