A “parrilla” is a casual restaurant serving all types of meat, are extremely popular in Argentina and other South American countries (hello, Uruguay!). Buenos Aires is home to several famous parrillas, and you really shouldn’t visit Buenos Aires without a proper meal at one. When Dan and I first visited Buenos Aires, we dined at a famous parrilla called La Brigada, and decided that this was the spot for our only dinner in Buenos Aires this trip!
La Brigada is located in the old, some what gritty/somewhat hipstery San Telmo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, and it has been open since 1992. Popular with both tourists and locals, reservations are almost mandatory and if you don’t have one, show up right at 19h when they open to see if you can get a table.
The interior of La Brigada is what I describe as upscale sports pub. The restaurant is spacious, the waiters are dressed nicely, and the tables are set up perfectly, but the restaurants is adjourned with soccer (or football) memorabilia from years past.
Since we had a reservation (called two weeks in advance, probably an overkill), we were seated promptly on arrival at 19h30. Yes, due to the overnight flight, we ate really early, much earlier that most Argentinians! As we remembered, the menu is really large, consisting of starters, sides, desserts, and lots and lots of meat!! I knew what I planned to order, but Dan agonized over the meat options before selecting the perfect cut! Before selecting our food, we ordered a 2014 Malbec from Trapiche and had it decanted. We have had this wine before (in Mendoza) and its very tasty!
Traditionally at parrillas, diners order multiple cuts of meat for the table and everyone shares the dish. Since there were just two of us, we each ordered our own dish, and it was too much food (we made the same mistake last time…). Since there are so many options, this would be a very fun place to visit with a large group! The speciality is obviously meat, but there are other options, including a very few vegetarian dishes and chicken. Assuming you are splitting with your table mates, it is customary for the server to slice the dish accordingly so that everyone can taste.
Aiming to recreate our delicious dinner from our prior visit, we started with the fried mozzarella, which was just as delicious as I remember! Its simply fresh mozzarella breaded and fried. Four medallions of mozzarella per serving – 2 for each of us! Side note, this trip was not diet friendly.
For my main course, I ordered one of my favorite Argentinian dishes – a Milanesa! A Milanesa is a breaded thin steak stopped with something, here, ham, cheese, and tomato sauce. You can also order a Milanesa in chicken if you prefer. The Milanesa at La Brigada is terribly delicious and its also large enough to share! It comes with a few potato medallions on the side. And, as I mentioned, since its common to share, waiters will always divide up the meat if you are sharing. They didn’t do so here since it was clear that we were not sharing (we were really living up to the fat american theme).
Dan ordered the classic lomo – a sirloin steal. Like my Milanesa, the lomo was huge and cooked perfectly. I may have stolen a bite or two. Despite its size, Dan actually finished the entire steak! Good thing we walked ALL OVER Buenos Aries earlier in the day!
And, something to point out, at parrillas, dishes are usually served with just meat (with the occasional potato medallion on the side), and all sides have to be ordered separately and are generally shared amongst the table. We ordered a side of frites provencal, or fries with lots of garlic, olive oil, and herbs. These are always delicious and a speciality of Argentina!
We ended our meal with a dulce de leche pancake. As always, any dessert with duche de leche is amazing in Argentina. This particular dessert was close to the size of a small pizza and our waiter cut the pancake to split between Dan and me. Don’t come to La Birgada without trying one of its desserts!
STEAL OUR TRIP
La Brigada: Estados Unidos 465, C1101AAJ CABA, Argentina. Telephone reservations only – +54 11 4361-5557 or +54 11 4361-4685. Casual attire. When we were there in November, the restaurant opened at 19:30, but Google lists different hours. I recommend calling to confirm before making at trip out to San Telmo.
ON A BUDGET
If you are on a budget, try my favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires, El Banco Rojo, just down the road!