Meat Cuts in Argentina

Cutting your way through Argentine beef lingo

Las Cabras

The Gran Bife at Las Cabras in Palermo Hollywood. The steak is a Bife de Chorizo. Yup, its awesome.

Meat. Carne. Mmmmm… Argentina is renowned for its high-quality, juicy, gigantic and cheap steaks. Unlike the beef lexicon in the United States, which prescribes a name for the cut followed by “steak,” Argentine beef idioms have one name for most items. To the English eye, some names may appear to overlap, sound nothing alike, or generally confuse the non-bilingual.

Although I applaud the brave traveler who’s willing to order anything on the parrilla, or steakhouse, menu – “Bring me meat!” – you may want to do some reading before making the blindfolded menu choice. It could be the difference between a rib-eye steak and a cow’s testicle – some places, like the famed parrilla La Brigada in San Telmo, serve the entire animal. Nothing goes to waste in Argentina! So take off the blindfold, put on the reading glasses and take notes.

Typical Meat Cuts in Argentina

Asado pic

A classic asado – BBQ with a group of friends, family – with lots of Bife de Lomo

Here is a list of the more common cuts of meat you’ll come across in the average Buenos Aires steakhouse:

  • Chorizo – Sausage. Unlike the word in the US, chorizo here is not spicy. In fact, almost no Argentine food is spicy. Chorizo only means awesome, juicy sausage – when the word is by itself.
  • Bife de Chorizo – Sirloin Steaks. Typical, mouth-watering Argentine steak. And confusingly, nothing to do with the sausage!
  • Ojo de Bife – classic Ribeye steak, found in every parrilla in the city.
  • Vacío – Flank Steak, but with more fat and flavor. It can be quite chewy.
  • Bife Angosto – Porterhouse or Striploin Steak.
  • Entraña – Skirt Steak. A favourite of the BuenosTours team. Ask your waiter to grill it “Jugoso” or juicy. Generally served in long strips.
  • Cuadril– Rump Steak. Commonly used in sandwiches.
  • Entraña gruesa – Hanger Steak, thicker than Skirt steak.
  • Bife de Costilla – T-Bone/Porterhouse Steaks.
  • Bife de lomo – Tenderloin. Less fat than bife de chorizo. Not so much about the flavor, but instead the tenderness. Some Buenos Aires parrillas make a show of cutting it with a spoon upon serving clients!
  • Tira de Asado or Asado de Tira – Short ribs, served on the bone.
  • Chinchulines – Small intestine. For more adventurous carnivores.
  • Criadillas – Testicles. Good luck.
  • Morcilla – Blood Sausage. Although not easy to find in many parts of the world, Morcilla is served at almost every parrilla in Buenos Aires.

Some typical Argentine meat sandwiches, often sold at food carts and “hole in the wall” joints:

  • Choripán – Sausage served on a long bread roll.
  • Vaciopan – A flank steak sandwich. A superb carnivorous lunch on the go.
  • Milanesa – Usually a thin, breaded piece of beef fried and served on a roll with typical condiments.
  • Milanesa de pollo – Same sandwich, but with fried, breaded chicken.

And what life would be worth living without a little salsa?:

  • Salsa Provenzal – A garlic-parsley-olive oil mix that will leave you with happy taste buds and stinky breath. Works every time. You can cut to the chase and get the same salsa by just asking for Ajo (a-HO), which means garlic.
  • Salsa Criolla – A colorful, South American condiment. It generally consists of onions, peppers, and tomatoes soaked in olive oil and vinegar or lemon/lime juice. There are a variety of ways to make it, but here is one good recipe.
  • Chimichurri – An Argentine classic, staple condiment. A must! Whether eating chorizo, milanesa or bife de lomo, indulge in some chimichurri while in Buenos Aires. Here’s an interesting recipe for chimichurri.

Ordering Your Meat in Buenos Aires

At Argentine steakhouses and other restaurants/cafes, ordering food is said with direct language. For instance, it is not rude to say, “I want” (Yo quiero). Here are some examples on how to order a steak and to ask it to be cooked a certain way:

  • Formal: I would like a Sirloin Steak medium rare – Yo quisiera un bife de lomo jugoso (hoo-GO-so).
  • More common: I want a sirloin steak cooked well/medium well – Yo quiero un bife de lomo bien cocido. 
  • Other ways to have your steak cooked: a punto = medium (but most likely will come out medium-well, as in Argentina they tend to cook steak more than in the northern hemisphere); bien jugoso = rare; or for those who like their steak “blue”, just say vuelta y vuelta, which means very quickly cooked on each side.

Choripan pic

When traveling to the Ecological Reserve in Puerto Madero, stop outside the reserve at one of the many parrilla stands for a choripan. They have plenty of condiments and for a small amount of cash, you will be stuffed.

Enjoy your beef on your next visit to Buenos Aires! Buen Provecho!

Reader interactions

4 Replies to “Meat Cuts in Argentina”

  1. Hola . PLease send more of the language course please , very good
    Gracious , ciao


  2. Thank you. But no list is complete without mention of the luscious cross cut ribs called “asado de tira” and tri-tip – “colita de cuadril”. Also best ordered jugoso, according to me!


  3. This was truly helpful to me! I am always completely lost in an Argentine grocery store or carnicería, but no longer! Bookmarking this to come back to again and again. Your website is a truly fabulous resource, both for visitors and people on long-term stays, like me!


  4. Muy bueno, me da risa eso de que los ‘murricans comen la carne cruda.


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