This is the second part of a three part series on where to eat the best arrachera in el D.F. by guest researcher Ulysses de la Torre.
"Vegetarians are a chef's worst nightmare" fumed Anthony Bourdain. Tony, this is for you:
10 Dias, 9 Parrillas: A Trilogy (Part II)
DAY 4: Casita de Buenos Aires
Prices speak louder than words and what I’m drawn to at Casita de Buenos Aires is that not only is 500 grams the smallest arrachera but it comes with complete side salad and costs 170 pesos. Think about that. It implies 300 grams for 102 pesos. The rest of the menu speaks for itself.
The arrachera is soft and subtle and I can definitely taste the grill, but it’s not fair to compare it to yesterday’s entraña since it’s a different cut of meat. This place oozes nostalgia, sells fresh homemade empanadas out of the storefront fridge to take home with you and is a perfect place for an afternoon comida. The only downside: given its location in a still-refurbishing area of Roma, doors close at 7 pm. But if you’re in the area during daytime, there’s no reason to not be here eating meat.
VERDICT: Great value for money. We’re definitely coming back to try their other cuts. Also—the kitchen is run by women.
Casita de Buenos Aires | Queretaro 188 between Monterrey and Medellin, Colonia Roma
5574-2204 | 7 days, 13:00-19:00
Arrachera: 500 grams / 170 pesos
Asado de Tira: 500 grams / 180 pesos
DAY 5: Los Uruguayos
We walked by El Zorzal at Tamaulipas and Alfonso Reyes and saw that 400 grams of arrachera cost 212 pesos, so we continued down Atlixco past Juan Escutia until we arrived at Los Uruguayos. I generally dislike theme restaurants, but once in a while you find one that pulls it off, and Los Uruguayos has temporarily convinced me I’m in a small village in Las Pampas. The stereo is playing South American trova until a live accordion player shows up. I’m about to say this feels like more of a date spot than anything else so far when Luisa says one thing this place definitely is NOT is a date spot. As I’m reconciling this difference of perception, I notice that the only other customers during a Monday lunch are older men with large stomachs.
On the menu, a couple of things strike me: 1. They actually have picaña, imported from Uruguay, which explains the 240 peso price. 2. For the first time, the asado de tira is cheaper than the arrachera—500 grams for 140 pesos—and even cheaper than Casita Buenos Aires, which means it’s clearly time to try that. I order it medium-well on account of it including the bone and from the first bite I understand everything. This is a rougher cut and a rougher taste and a lot more smoke. The training wheels have just come off.
VERDICT: I’ve since learned that two other people we know, one of them an Argentine sommelier in our building, cite this as their favorite parrilla and I can see why. We’re definitely coming back here.
Los Uruguayos | Atlixco 38A between Juan Escutia and Antonio Sola, Colonia Condesa
5553-7375 | Sunday – Wednesday 13:00 – 19:00, Thursday – Saturday 13:00 – 23:00
10% discount for home delivery
Arrachera: 400 grams / 150 pesos
Asado de tira: 500 grams / 140 pesos (with bone)
Honestly, I need a break. I spent today eating nothing but vegetables and then for dinner we went to our friend’s dinner party and met an Uruguayan guest who said his favorite cut is vacío. So I guess that means vacío is next.
DAY 7: Escarapela
I’ve been here as often as I’ve been to El Hornero, and it’s just as small—the Che/Maradona/etc. homage aside, it looks and feels like you’re sitting in a wine cellar. Escarapela is never empty, but considering its location in the heart of Condesa, still manages to keep a pretty low profile. Escarapela’s centrality still has its drawbacks though, specifically that it consistently has the worst strolling musicians I’ve heard in the entirety of the six-odd years I’ve lived in Mexico City. Seriously, the musicians are as bad as the meat is good.
Anyway, today is the day I order a vacío while Luisa orders arrachera, both cooked medium. And today is the day I become a grown man. The arrachera is as dependable as it always is here. But whereas arrachera is a ride on a freshly paved street in some leafy suburb, vacío is an offroad romp through the outback. Basically, this engine’s got a lot more horsepower—juicier, fattier, fuller.
VERDICT: It feels weird to say this, but I don’t think I’ll ever eat arrachera again.
Escarapela Condesa | Nuevo León 62, between Parras and Laredo, Colonia Condesa
Arrachera: 330 grams / 125 pesos
Asado de tira sin hueso: 330 grams / 128 pesos
Vacio: 330 grams / 135 pesos