With its retro wood panelling, wooden furniture, gold letters in the window and the waist-coated waiters, Lezama seems wonderfully old-fashioned. An atmospheric Buenos Aires bodegón located right across from the Parque Lezama in San Telmo, the restaurant specializes in an equally timeless culinary pleasure: top-notch bife de lomo (filet mignon) with a bottle of inky, robust Malbec wine. But if that doesn't catch your fancy, then try their other specialty, rabbit, or choose something from their good selection of pastas, steaks, seafood, omelets and salads. Lezama is open for both lunch and dinner and is definitely a local Argentine experience.
Palermo's most popular upmarket parrilla, La Cabrera's crisp white table cloths and black and white floors give it the feel of a classy French bistro, but the menu is certainly 100% Argentinian. Portions of juicy steak are giant-sized (big enough to share), and all are served with an array of delicious and unusual sides. Prices have hiked since it became the toast of the tourists, but you still won't be disappointed. If possible, sit outside on the delightful sidewalk tables and be sure to book in advance. Due to demand they expanded into a second location, which is equally a find.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: The restaurant La Cabrera fuses classic Argentine steak with Palermo cool.
Sarah's expert tip: If you're got your heart set on their meat and sweetbreads, make a reservation a few days in advance at La Cabrera or La Cabrera Norte.
This budget San Telmo parrilla serves great meat in a fun and slightly uproarious atmosphere. The décor here is simple cantina style; if you're looking for fancy, you'd best keep on walking to another part of town. El Desnivel's big steaks are cooked on the grill at the front of the restaurant and served with sides of salad and crispy fries, all washed down with red wine or lots of cheap beer. Do save room for dessert though. El Desnivel's brashness is wildly popular with locals and visitors, and best to enjoy with friends, not a date you'd like to impress with your suaveness.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: El Desnivel serves up consistently good meat in an unpretentious atmosphere.
Sarah's expert tip: Some of the waiters are known for bringing you what they think you should have instead of what you asked for. If you're truly displeased, don't be afraid to tell them so.
For a hip, subtly innovative take on the traditional parrilla, look no further than Miranda, an industrial-chic steakhouse located on a corner of two cobbled streets in Palermo Viejo. Settle in on one of their wooden bench-seats and prepare to dig in. Classics like bife de lomo (tenderloin) and cerdo (pork) are updated and served with imaginative sides like papas rotas (literally, "broken" potatoes), colorful salads such as "Antonia" (sprinkled with sunflower seeds) and super-soft bread made on the premises. Even vegetarians are catered to with Miranda's selection of grilled vegetables. When the weather is nice, you can ask to sit outside.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: Miranda presents a great blend of Argentine parrilla and Palermo cool.
Sarah's expert tip: If you're in the area during the day, try Miranda's good-value set lunch. Otherwise, try to make a reservation if you prefer to come for dinner.
Located in the neighborhood of San Telmo along lovely Caseros street, La Popular is a steakhouse restaurant that serves good and traditional Argentine food like steaks, pastas and omelets for lunch and dinner. For breakfast, you'll find things like Argentine pastries, coffee and orange juice. The festively decorated restaurant pays homage to Buenos Aires and soccer in an unusual way; you'll see some memorabilia as well as soccer stadium fans painted on the walls as if they were in the stands applauding you. La Popular is open all day long from Tuesday to Saturday. During the week, the "executive menu" is a good value. However, the restaurant accepts cash only.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: La Popular is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but if you come at night, be sure to try the traditional rice pudding for dessert.
Sarah's expert tip: True to its name, La Popular is a popular place for steaks and Argentine food.
Though they also take great pride in their meats, Club El Don Steak House isn't like a traditional Argentine parrilla. This restaurant means serious business, happily serving high quality meats in an elegant atmosphere that is classically decorated in dark tones, albeit one inspired by "The Godfather" movie. With themed restaurants there is a danger of pandering only to fans, but that isn't the case here. You don't need to know anything about the movie to have a great steak and dining experience at Club El Don Steak House. The wine list is excellent and a good accompaniment to the mostly Argentine food on the menu.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: Club El Don Steak House is an excellent place for steak in Palermo.
Sarah's expert tip: Resistance is futile; if you're at Club El Don Steak House for dinner, you will want one of their chocolate desserts too. It's a rule.
It might be a pricey and heavily touristed choice, but Cabaña Las Lilas is still near the top of the league when it comes to serving the very best of Argentina's world-famous beef. Every cut comes from the restaurant's own award-winning ranch, which specializes in five types of beef, including black Angus. Cabaña Las Lilas occupies an upmarket, dockside location in Buenos Aires' redeveloped Puerto Madero district and offers up correspondingly classy service and aesthetics. Here you'll find exposed red brick walls and steel beams framed with good lighting and comfortable tables and chairs. Start your meal off right with a glass of wine.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: Cabaña Las Lilas is still considered one of BA's best restaurants for a nice cut of beef.
Sarah's expert tip: Take full advantage of the location. Go for a stroll along the waterfront before or after you eat, preferably when there's still light out; it's nicest at sunset.
This Palermo Soho steakhouse stalwart hasn't been much swayed by the trendification of the neighborhood and continues to serve choice cuts without gimmicks in a comfortable, traditional space. Think rustic style but still charming. Service at this Buenos Aires steakhouse is always warm and knowledgeable; this is the perfect place to acquaint yourself with the happy marriage of Argentinian beef and wine. Let the waiters at Don Julio help you if you find yourself overwhelmed with the large wine list. As could be expected, they specialize in Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Try to sit outside when the weather is nice.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: Don Julio does meat like it should be done in BA.
Sarah's expert tip: Come to Don Julio for the grilled cuts of meat copiously washed down with bottles of Argentine wine, but stay for the flambéed figs with ice cream.
Buenos Aires' legendary mega parrilla El Trapiche was serving up grilled bifes de lomo and matambritos (thin cut of pork) long before the area in which it is located became known as "Palermo Hollywood" (because of the number of film companies setting up) and the cool gang moved into its leafy, cobbled streets. Thankfully, El Trapiche continues to do what it does best: generous portions of tender grilled meats, pasta, wine and a bustling but relaxed Argentinian atmosphere. No need to dress up; come as you are and be prepared to eat. For dessert, you can't go wrong with some Argentine ice cream.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: You can sink your teeth into some of Buenos Aires' best grilled meat here.
Sarah's expert tip: Come hungry and ready for a real Argentine, meat-eating experience: plenty of beef and pork tempered with pasta, bold red wine and sweet ice cream.
While traditional-style parrillas offer much to love, when you want a change from the rough and ready decor and barbecue fumes, the minimalist but stylish Minga, located in pole position on the plaza in trendy Palermo Viejo, fits the bill quite nicely. The interior is all clean lines and subdued colors (beiges, pale wood and exposed concrete), and the restaurant experience is up a dozen notches from the average parrilla joint. The meat comes in on cutting boards accompanied by little dishes of sauce. You'll find that their salads and sides have a lot more oomph than your standard parrilla fries.
Recommended for Steakhouses because: Minga is a Buenos Aires parrilla for the cool kids.
Sarah's expert tip: Minga opens at noon so you can just as likely enjoy a leisurely lunch with plaza watching as get in a good dinner before partying in Palermo Viejo. Minga's drinks list is ample.