This is an excerpt from the Food & Drink chapter of Lonely Planet's Argentina guide.
The average intake of beef is around 70kg per person per year, though in the past Argentines ate even more. Most of this consuming takes place at the family asado, often held on Sunday in the backyards of houses all over the country (if you are lucky enough to be invited to one, make sure you attend). Here the art of grilling beef has been perfected. This usually involves cooking with coals and using only salt to prepare the meat.
Emerging from this family tradition, the commercial steak house offers a little bit of everything. The parrillada (mixed grill) might have an assortment of chorizo (beef or pork sausage), pollo (chicken), costillas (ribs) and carne (beef ). It can also come with more exotic items such as chinchulines (small intestines), tripa gorda (large intestine), molleja (thymus gland or sweetbreads), ubre (udder), riñones (kidneys) and morcilla (blood sausage). You can order a parrillada for as many people as you want; the steak house adjusts its servings according to the party’s size.
You could skip the mixed grill and dive right into the prime beef cuts. Here’s a guide:
1. bife de chorizo – sirloin; a thick, juicy and popular cut
2. bife de costilla – T-bone; a cut close to the bone; also called chuleta
3. bife de lomo – tenderloin; a thinly cut, more tender piece
4. cuadril – rump steak; often a thin cut
5. ojo de bife – ribeye; a choice smaller morsel
6. tira de asado – shortribs; thin strips of ribs and meat sliced crosswise
7. vacío – flank steak; textured and chewy, but very tasty
If you don’t specify, your steak will be cooked a punto (medium). To get it pink on the inside ask for jugoso (medium rare). Vuelta y vuelta or poco cocido means rare, and well done is bien cocido.
Be sure not to miss chimichurri, a tasty sauce often made of olive oil, garlic and parsley. Also try salsa criolla, a condiment made of diced tomato, onion and parsley – it’s harder to find.
More culinary tips can be found in the Lonely Planet guide to Argentina.