This is the third and last installment of the poor Sr. de la Torre's bovine ramble through our fleshy steakhouses...
10 Dias, 9 Parrillas: A Trilogy (Part III)
DAY 8: Gardel Grill
We have this theory that parrillas, like certain other things, must be cheaper outside Roma/Condesa. But the online menu for La Evita on Reforma proves our theory wrong. And when I find the online menu for La Rural on Insurgentes in Colonia Napoles, they don’t even list prices, which brings to mind the old saying, “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.”
So we head for Rio Lerma in Cuauhtemoc instead, home to Quebracho (which is pretty good for a chain restaurant parrilla by the way), the mass-market airplane hangar-like Don Asado (such a shame what that franchise has become), the unknown quantity that is Berretín and Gardel Grill, which I went to once a couple years ago with some friends and I remember being pretty good. We opt for Gardel Grill, and as we enter, something is different from how I remember this place…it’s kitted out for office workers.
We order the 600 gram bone-in asado de tira to share because at 185 pesos it’s the most economical steak on the menu, cooked to medium-well. There’s an impersonal feeling here I can’t quite put my finger on. The meat is still crackling when it arrives and it’s definitely fattier than the asado de tira at Los Uruguayos. This is not necessarily bad in and of itself, but as we proceed eating, the cut becomes progressively fattier, to the point that I’m finding some bites that aren’t even edible.
VERDICT: The lowest cost cut of meat is no excuse for serving the cheapest value. For what it’s worth, I saw quite a few customers ordering pasta. We won’t be back.
Rio Lerma 171 between Guadalquivir and Ebro, Colonia Cuauhtemoc
5533-3466 | 5514-0714
Arrachera: 350 grams / 190 pesos
Asado de tira: 600 grams / 185 pesos
Vacio: 400 grams / 190 pesos
DAY 9: La Parrilla Argentina
We didn’t realize until we were ordering that La Parrilla Argentina is a chain; we just came here on the recommendation of an acquaintance whose office is nearby. This place is cantina large, with a capacity of easily 200 people and a preference for old bolero music—when we walk in, José José’s voice is manhandling the sound system. There’s a very old-school feel here and I have no doubt that during Friday happy hour this place is thumping. The waiter assures us the asado de tira is not too fatty and we order it medium-well. The meat explodes with flavor to the point that I forget that there’s chimichurri, picante or any other condiments on the table because really, this doesn’t need anything extra on it.
VERDICT: This place is great if you can get your boss or sugar daddy to pay for it.
La Parrilla Argentina
Lafragua No. 4, corner of Monumento a la Revolucion, Colonia Tabacalera
5566-5542 | 5566-5667
Arrachera 350 grams/154pesos, 700grams/303pesos
Asado de tira 350 grams/173 pesos, 700 grams/308 pesos
DAY 10: La Biela
Luisa says this is the last we eat parrilla for a long time so I should order carefully. I’m picking vacío. The prices here (not to mention the previous two places) raise the question of how Roma and Condesa parrillas could be the cheapest priced in the city and our temporary theory is that the Roma and Condesa parrillas are a) competing with each other and b) where the Argentines and Uruguayans go to eat, versus out here in middle-class colonias, like Napoles, where Argentine grill is considered something exotic, and therefore priced accordingly.
There’s an old maxim in journalism: “Show, don’t tell.” So why don’t I just show you how juicy the vacío is here:
Unfortunately, juicy in this case doesn’t necessarily equate to more flavor. The vacío at Escarapela was definitely better, and in contrast to the previous parrilla, I find myself leaning a lot on the chimichurri here to enjoy the meat.
VERDICT: This is a relaxed old-school mom-and-pop outside of Roma/Condesa. It’s pricy, but I like the atmosphere here. Also, Chiandoni’s famous homemade ice cream is two blocks away.
Dakota 305, corner of Pennsylvania, Colonia Napoles
1107-6549 | 5687-9763
Arrachera 350 grams / 215 pesos, 600 grams / 320 pesos
Vacío 350 grams / 215 pesos, 600 grams / 320 pesos
Asado de tira 600 grams / 290 pesos
When he’s not eating meat, Ulysses de la Torre is an emerging markets consultant and maintains a blog about finance and economics in developing countries at www.divergingmarkets.com.
END PART III