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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
CABANA LAS LILAS
This is a large parrilla (grill restaurant) located in the renovated port district in Puerto Madero and it is generally recognized as the best meat shrine in the city.
This is a meat eating city. They go nuts over beef and not just the prime cuts. They eat the cows tongue, intestines, sweet breads and even the poor guy's "man apples."
The restaurant specializes in all cuts of steaks and the beef is raised on the restaurant's own estancias (ranches) in the region.
By U.S. standards, a meal here complete with a bottle of good wine from Argentina will cost considerably less than a similar experience at a famous steak emporium in the U.S. like Morton's, Shula's, Ruth's Chris, etc. For locals, it's one of the most expensive places in town.
We had our tour guide make reservations at 8 on the Saturday night that we arrived in B.A. This is considered a very early hour to dine in B.A. Most Portenos (local word for Buenos Aires citizens) wouldn't even think about going out to a restaurant prior to 10 or 11pm, especially on a weekend. However since Las Lilas is very near the Hilton Hotel which caters to Americans who like to eat early, you won't feel out of place.
Upon being seated a basket of various breads will immediately appear along with a little appetizer. It varies from night to night but might consist of some olives, air cured ham, mushrooms and eggplant spread, etc. There's a small charge for this but it's worth it.
We enjoyed Las Lilas so much that we dined there twice during our stay. During our first visit I got a double "baby beef" which was a large sirloin cut of beef. I can't remember how much it weighed, metric, but it was probably 18 to 20 ounces. Lots of beef but manageable due to the extra fat. It was quite succulent. My wife got a ribeye and it was good, too. We got a large batch of French fries with our beef. Oh, I almost forgot. For starters I chose an order of meat filled empanadas and they were sensational. They're little meat pies that are either fried or grilled. My wife started out with an order of fried cheese. Simply grilled cheese and great.
During our second visit we started out by sharing an order of Argentinean sausage. It was small but wonderful. This night I selected a t-bone steak and my wife selected a filet. I ordered mine muy jugosa (very rare) and it came to the table medium well. I sent the thing back and they were more than happy to get me a new steak that wasn't destroyed. Anything past medium rare and I gag. I'd rather eat the meat raw than overcooked---really! Cindy's was cooked perfectly. Once again, we enjoyed fries with our steaks which is the norm down there.
On each visit my wife chose some sinfully rich dessert and it took an hour to wipe the smile off her face each time!
With a bottle of wine each dinner came to between $70 and $80 U.S. Not bad for the most famous steak house in all of Buenos Aires and with wine. By the way, Argentinean wines are wonderful and most affordable. We saw them for as cheap as $8 a bottle. And call me odd but I always enjoy a blanco (white) whether I'm eating fish or red meat and I didn't get any odd looks when I ordered white wine with steak.
This is a great dining experience and we highly recommend that you try it if you get a chance to visit B.A.
The restaurant is located in Puerto Madero, a nicely rehabbed district in B.A. that had fallen into disrepair years ago. Reservations are absolutely essential if you plan to eat there during a weekend.
As mentioned above, one problem throughout the city is getting your steak cooked really rare or even medium rare. Stress to your server how you like your meat and keep your fingers crossed!
Complete details are found on their web site...if you understand Spanish. Web site is here. Otherwise ask anybody how to get there and you'll be on your way.
ADDITIONAL BUENOS AIRES RESTAURANT REVIEWS: