In 2021, Argentina led the world in beef consumption per capita, consuming approximately 39.9 kilograms per person.
But the reputation of Argentine meats extends well beyond the country’s borders. Argentina produces some of the best grass-fed beef in the world.
For any foodie traveler, no trip to this incredible destination is complete without tasting some of what its most famous for (besides, perhaps, Argentine wines). Before sitting down at the first bodegon you find in Buenos Aires, get to know a little bit more about the Argentinian meats in this quick Kuoda guide.
Argentine Meats: A Culture
Food is a central component of Argentine culture. Social and family gatherings are often centered around meals, and family lunches on Sundays are, for many, the most important meal of the week.
Much of Argentine cuisine is a cultural blend of ancient indigenous dishes and ingredients, Mediterranean influences brought over during Spanish colonization, and flavors borrowed from Italian and Spanish immigrants to Argentina during the 19th and 20th centuries. However, in almost all regions of Argentina, beef is a staple.
The connection between Argentine cuisine and beef goes back hundreds of years. Indeed, wild cattle roamed the lowlands of central Argentina for centuries, where Gauchos developed a taste for the creatures and even developed their own unique way of cooking it (the parrilla, which we’ll talk more about later).
That taste for grilled beef is palpable across all of the country these days. Experts recognize that the beef raised here is some of the most tender and rich the world over. Indeed, it rarely needs any seasoning beyond salt and, when cooked correctly, can be cut with a spoon.
Tipos de Corte (Types of Beef Cuts)
Not only are the beef cuts in Argentina different than what you’ll find in the Western world, they’re also named in Spanish. Meaning that you might have a difficult time knowing what to order when you finally get a chance to taste test some of the best meat in the world.
To help you navigate the menu at any restaurant you may wander into, here are some of the most famous tipos de corte (types of beef cuts) in Argentina.
– Ojo de Bife
This is your traditional rib eye steak. It’s taken from the best cut of the rib section and it’s incredibly flavorful. A thick, chunky cut, all of the flavor comes from the marbling of fat throughout the steak.
– Bife Ancho
Bife Ancho is prime rib or rib eye roast. These marbled cuts are taken from the rib eye roll and they come either boneless or bone-in. We recommend opting for the bone-in variety, which adds just a little more flavor.
– Bife Angosto/Bife de Chorizo
You’ll find sirloin or New York strips under these names on most menus. You can’t go wrong ordering this cut, which is the perfect balance between taste, quality, and quantity (typically the cuts are large enough to share). Make sure you only order these at a quality restaurant though, because cheaper cuts can have too much fat along the edge, which has a negative impact on texture.
It’s easy to confuse asado, an Argentinian barbecue, with asado, a very famous cut of beef. These are short ribs or spare ribs, and they’re one of the best cuts you can get. Usually crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, asado is a must-try.
– Tapa de Asado
This rib cap steak is something between a bife de chorizo and ojo de bife in terms of flavor. However, there’s less meat on these cuts and they tend to be less tender in texture. Served medium-rare, it can be a tough steak, so you may not opt for this one for your first choice.
Vacio is a type of flank steak that’s cut from the belly of the cow. It’s usually slow-cooked and full of flavor, thanks to the crispy fat that surrounds the exterior. This isn’t a cut that’s often found outside of Argentina, so it’s worth a sample if you have the chance.
– Colita de Cuadril
This cut isn’t usually grilled, like all of the others we’ve mentioned so far. Instead, you’ll usually find it roasted and sometimes minced. It’s a cheaper cut but it still tastes delicious with the right marinade.
This is your fillet or tenderloin steak and it’s often the most expensive cut on the menu. But that price tag is befitting of one of the best steaks you’ll likely ever try. It has minimal fat, is juicy and tender, and you can always spot servers in the best steakhouses impressing restaurant-goers by cutting it with a spoon.
– Other Meats to Enjoy
Besides beef, there are plenty of other Argentine meats that are more than worth trying. Look for chorizo (pork sausage), chinchulines (chitterlings), and morcilla (blood sausage). In Patagonia, lamb and goat are more popular than beef, and they’re cooked over a traditional open fire that’s an experience in and of itself.
The Best Way to Try Argentine Meats
Since the 1800s, Gauchos have been slow roasting beef on a metal skewer over an open fire. This skewer structure was known as an asador, which is the predecessor to the asado, aka the main method used in Argentinian grilling.
But asado no longer refers to the grill itself. Instead, asado is the entire experience of Argentinian barbecue. The grill is called a parrilla: a cast iron grill with V-shaped channels that collect fat and juices. The meat is grilled over wood and charcoal, usually over the course of a few hours and amidst many glasses of wine and good conversation.
Asado is the best way to try Argentine meats, besides maybe a food tour of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires. It’s an opportunity to not only try the best of the best cuts, it’s also a chance to immerse yourself a little deeper into Argentinian culture. And when you do, don’t forget the chimichurri!
Enjoy Argentinian Meats with Kuoda
If there’s two things that Argentina is famous for, it’s the beef and the wine. And, what a coincidence, these two items pair very well together on any luxury vacation to Argentina.
While you can find excellent beef just about anywhere in this country, for the best of the best, you really need to know where to go. Fortunately, Kuoda has done a great deal of hands-on research in terms of the best restaurants and asado you can find.
Start customizing your trip to Argentina and let us start planning you’re perfect (carnivorous) foodie vacation!