It’s a tale as old as time: Buenos Aires and beef go hand in hand (and have done so for eons). More so than peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese and tomato soup, or Bert & Ernie; it’s just a fact of life.
The glut of parrillas all over town – ranging from old-school neighborhood holes in the wall to more upscale outfits catered toward tourists with deep pockets – means that while you might be spoiled for choice, it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Whether you’re a serious carnivore or just someone that likes to dabble in the asado arts from time time, no one wants to waste their time on a sub-par slab of steak.
Enter La Carnicería, the hottest new joint to seduce even the most demanding of palates. Located in Palermo, it actually takes the exact place of one of those greasy, old-school parrillas frequented by overweight taxi drivers and other characters. Quite the fitting reincarnation, if you ask me.
Decked out with wooden tables, simple metal chairs, and a massive butcher’s mural against one wall, the space is light and clean but masculine enough to mean business. It’s got a rock-and-roll meat shop vibe to it, though handled with care and welcoming enough that the not-so-cool-kids will feel right at home too.
The menu is brief – a welcome respite from the overwhelming tomes that plague more traditional spots – and focuses on premium cuts and preparations that make the product stand out. Depending on what’s market fresh, the cuts change on a near-daily basis, with in-house smoked meats being prepared as well.
To start, you can’t go wrong with the goat cheese provoleta (served with fresh peaches) or the velvety homemade morcilla with fennel, red pepper, and green apple. However, the real star of the show is the molleja cooked to crispy, fatty perfection and finished with a cane syrup glaze and served over fresh grilled corn. The beauty is in the harmony of simple, noble flavors being presented in a way that highlights the quality of the ingredients themselves.
Mains are broken down into four categories: Grill, Smoked, Fish, and Pork. If luck is on your side, you’ll head in for a nosh on a day that ojo de bife is available. Served bone-in, it’s bigger than your head (and definitely your stomach) and will blow your mind. No, this is not an overstatement. We also had an excellent whole sea bream, grilled simply and served with a bright plate of greens – asparagus, bok choy, and peas – and salchicha parrillera to keep things meaty. Take note: each main course is joined by abundant “sides” that beg to be shared with the table.
Service is cool, friendly, and attentive. These boys know what they’re doing, after all. Chef Pedro cut his teeth at both HG at the Fierro and Florería Atlántico, so you know he’s on top of his game. Our friend ordered his ojo de bife rare, exclaiming he wanted it “as red as can be.” When it came out way overcooked, bordering on well done, we let the waiter know. Without one second’s hesitation, he whisked the steak back, apologized profusely and said a new one would be out in a jiffy. Sure, this might sound like standard operating procedure in the rest of the world, but in BA this kind of exchange tends to be much more painful and frustrating, with the waiter somehow blaming the customer for the whole ordeal. Big points to La Carnicería on this front.
The wine list is short and sweet, featuring some real gems like the Ojo de Agua Cabernet Sauvignon. There are also several artisanal beers available, as well as aperitivi and cocktails made with Tato’s Príncipe de los Apóstoles gin.
Extra bonus points for the sifones and jars of water brought endlessly to the table, saving you the need to budget 35% of the total check on bottled water (like I usually have to do).
We left feeling sated on many levels. Excellent food, truly top notch, combined with great service and a laid-back but modern atmosphere – what more can you ask for?
So, the next time you’re craving a bit of red meat, give the old classics a night off (or four) and head to Thames 2319. It’s doubtful you’ll ever look back.
Thames 2319 – Palermo Soho
Tuesday – Sunday, 7:30–Midnight
Saturday – Sunday, 12 – 3:30 & 7:30–Midnight