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A successful search for a BA "parrilla de barrio"

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Two "mature" (LOL!) American couples, who have made a habit of coming to stay in BA during our summer for quite a few weeks, asked me to choose a restaurant where we could have dinner together.

The DWs of these two couples post mostly on another tourism forum. Marnie calls herself http://tinyurl.com/af68tql and has just been granted the huge distinction of being named DE (Destination Expert) for BA. Ronnie calls herself http://tinyurl.com/bkjntpk and should be well on her way to also being named DE. The "business plan" of tourism forums is based on free labor, which is what I am performing right now, BTW.

Frequent readers of this forum know what I think about this other forum, which I usually call "the other place", popular as it indisputably is. These ladies also post here as: http://www.fodors.com/community/profile/marniewdc/ and http://www.fodors.com/community/profile/morewierd/ but enjoy the larger audience provided by "the other place".

Anyway, my "mission" was to find a good, non-touristy restaurant, to which we had never been before, preferably near the Northern limits of BA, because we live far out of town and prefer not to get deep into BA, in order to reduce our travel time.

I started my research by using a local restaurant ratings page: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/

First, I narrowed my search down to "parrillas" (steakhouses), simply because that is the kind of food I like. Among the most highly rated I found two, which did not require driving deep into town:

http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/restaurantes/Parrilla-Marucha-8512 and

http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/restaurantes/El-Pobre-Luis-480 (less highly rated)

Then, I researched these places in the "other forum".

Parrilla Marucha http://www.parrillamarucha.com/ was recommended there by a top poster, who is particularly knowledgeable about restaurants: http://tinyurl.com/bpkz9n9

So, I decided to call the place. The call was taken by someone I thought might be the owner. We favor small places, where the owner is present. It turned out he WAS the owner and his first name is Omar. I asked him whether he spoke English and he replied that he spoke Spanish, French and Arabian (being Algerian), as well as English.

That clinched it and I made a reservation for six, for a couple of days later, at a little after 8 PM.

Then, after getting my friends' OK, I tried confirming the reservation via their website. I filled their contact form and got an automatic reply via e-mail, but no confirmation. I e-mailed them again, without a reply. So, forget about reserving that way.

Their website says they open at 7.30 PM, which should be a good thing for tourists who like to dine relatively early (for BA). We got there a little after 8 PM and were the first customers present. Our friends were a little late, due to the rush hour traffic and between one thing and another we were a little slow in getting around to ordering. But they brought us a very good bread basket and some nice sauces to go with it, as well as some complimentary pieces of "chorizo".

For an entrée, we ordered a "provoleta". If you don't know what this is, try it. It is a sort of grilled cheese. We shared it.

We were warned that the portions were large and therefore decided three main courses would be more than enough for the six of us oldies who don't eat too much. LOL!!! We ordered: Pamplona, Asado de Tira and a Chuletón de Ojo de Bife, plus some salad and roast pumpkin. No menu in English available.

I ate part of the Chuletón and found it one of the best pieces of meat I have ever eaten and I have eaten a LOT of meat, during my lifetime. Everyone seemed happy with the food. I don't drink, but my DW and my friends drank two bottles of a Malbec the restaurant was promoting, plus several bottles of mineral water.

My friends also were quite happy with the desserts.

Maybe a little after 9.30 PM or so, the place was full and the service became almost non-existent. The waiters tried as hard as they could, but were completely overwhelmed. To his credit, the owner also worked hard, helping the waiters. He told me two waiters had not reported for work that day. So, maybe other days are better in this respect. No tourists in sight, I might add.

All this cost about 950 pesos, plus tip, for the six of us. Did this represent "good value"? The answer is: IT DEPENDS. It depends on what????

Well, if we had paid with a credit card, this dinner would have cost almost 33 dollars each, plus tip. I feel that represents quite decent value, if you compare it with what this meal would have cost in a US steakhouse, IF you can find such good meat there, which I doubt.

However, if you had brought cash dollars to Argentina and changed them for pesos at today's "informal" market rate of 7,30 pesos per dollar, the meal would have cost 19,50 dollars each, plus tip. And I believe everyone will agree with me that is GREAT VALUE. I feel it would not be easy to find such quality of meat anywhere in the world and most certainly not at THAT price.

For the prevailing "informal" exchange rate see: http://tinyurl.com/ckshwzk

Bottom line: I suggest steak fans try this place. Reserve by phone, ideally talking to the owner, for an early hour, such as 8 PM, or even earlier. Share main courses, unless you are BIG eaters. Ask for a discount, if you pay in cash, as advised. Be out of there before 10 PM. One problem with going to this place could be the rush hour traffic. They also offer an "executive lunch", as shown in their website, for 60 pesos (8 bucks and change, plus tip), which would seem to offer tremendous value, depending on what they give you.

One part of me hopes next time I go there I find it full of tourists who have read this. But another part of me hopes no one reads this, so I can enjoy my meal in peace and without the price hikes featured by all places favored by tourists. Which will it be? Time will tell. LOL!!

Have a great time in our town, eating some of the best meat in the world.

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