My friends from New York who were interning in BA for the summer were leaving the following Thursday. In anticipation of a few final days of splurging, we decided to take it easy this Saturday night and attempted to find a really well-priced (aka CHEAP) restaurant nearby. When it comes to steaks, I had always been under the impression that cheap and incredible are mutually exclusive so, naturally, I was a little weary. But I trusted my friend's recommendation and kept my mouth shut. This was a very good move on my part. We ended up eating at El Trapiche which was, as far as I'm concerned, vastly superior to Cabaña Las Lilas both in terms of food, atmosphere, service, and price.The restaurant sits on the corner of Humboldt and Paraguay. If you can't find the restaurant by the blatant neon signs outside, just look for the giant crowd of smokers and diners waiting for tables. I arrived at 10:30pm without a reservation with one of my friends to find out that we were the first of our party of five ... this ended up being good since there was an hour wait. An hour wait at 10:30pm ... what is this, Stanton Social? There wasn't much room to wait around inside since it was extremely crowded; but it was also really cold outside, so we just sort of stood around by the door like everyone else who didn't have thick winter coats. No matter where we stood, we were always in the way of people walking in and out ... we got a lot of the "hey idiots don't stand here" faces ... but there was no where else to stand! So the lesson here is, either make a reservation (though you will probably still have to wait) or dress appropriately to stand outside. The dining room is gigantic, the ceilings tall, the echos abundant. It's a loud restaurant and, despite its enormous size, every single table was full and diners waiting for tables were squeezing between chairs finding places to stand. One side of the restaurant carried an impressively large (and moderately priced) selection of Argentine wines. While it could have been because of the general volume of the restaurant, I heard no english which made me feel like, perhaps, I'd be getting a more authentic steak experience.
We were seated at 11:30pm and were promptly brought a basket of warm country bread rolls and menus. After three baskets of bread, we decided to skip appetizers and head straight for mains. At the advice of the waiter, and of my stomach, I decided to go with the Bife de Lomo. Judging from what was on pretty much every other table in the restaurant, this seemed like the way to go. Sure was. The sizzling steak came right off the grill and right onto my plate, still sizzling in front of my eyes. The steak was served with confidence: no frills, no sides, no garnishing ... just 100% rare grass-fed sirloin. Cooked perfectly, incredibly juicy, it was almost as if someone had injected water into the steak itself -- there wasn't a single dry bite.
As I was devouring this steak, as any other normal person would do, I kept thinking about dessert. But primarily, my attention kept being distracted by this white mountain being brought to my surrounding tables. Finally when dessert time came, I was sure to ask what everyone else was eating and and enjoying, from what it seemed like. It was the (ice cream with raspberries and blackberries). It sounds standard, and I guess it ultimately was; but, there was something about the sweet and colorful raspberry and blackberry syrups running down the sides of white ice cream that was really appetizing.
The bill came, and our jaws dropped. In a good way. We ended up forking out around $10USD / person including drinks, cover charge, main courses, and dessert. But despite the price, this is the kind of steak Cabaña Las Lilas should have been serving. How did this compare to my steak in Mendoza at Azafrán? Pretty close ... I'd give a few extra points to Azafrán because it was just slightly more juicy while remaining incredibly lean. Overall, this place is a winner and I would highly recommend it. As of now, this place is at the top of my steak list.