Meat Comas Are Real: Getting Carnal At La Cabrera

Let’s play a word association game. I’ll say a phrase, and you say the first word that comes to mind.

Ready? Go:

Food in Buenos Aires

You said steak, right? And if you didn’t, quit messing up the game. You said steak. Because in Argentina, that’s what people eat. Even the vegetarians.

OK, that’s a lie. Probably.

Last night we were finally ready for some carnivorous activity, so we caught the Subte to Palermo for the secret happy hour at La Cabrera. This restaurant is something of a legend in travel blogging circles, because everything on the menu is half price during the happy hour.

Of course, there’s a catch:

The happy hour is only between 7-8PM on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The restaurant officially opens at 8:30, when the main dinner crowd starts to trickle in.

Oh, and another catch:

There are two sneaky charges that aren’t half off – $16 per person for a ‘table charge’ and $26 per table for ‘cubiertos,’ or cutlery. Remember that those prices are in pesos, so for two of us the extras only came to about $12 USD.

But we were ready. Too ready, actually. It was a gorgeous day, so we got there at 5:30PM to find the restaurant.

Ah! One more catch:

La Cabrera has two locations, and the happy hour deal isn’t always at the same one. Fortunately, if you turn up at the wrong one, the other is approximately one minute away.

La Cabrera Buenos Aires Argentina

This is the one we ate at…

 

La Cabrera Buenos Aires, Argentina

…And this is the other one. Not clear which is the original, but I think it’s this one.

We confirmed the location of the night’s happy hour and went for a walk, stopping for a pre-dinner Iguana. The woman at La Cabrera told us to be back at 6:50, just to be safe. If it’s too busy and you get there too late – bad luck.

Iguana Cerveza Buenos Aires Argentina

What did you think I meant by ‘Iguana’? Obviously an über-classy beer.

We came back at about 6:45, because I was paranoid that it would be packed. It wasn’t. Only one other girl was there, knitting on the bench in front of the restaurant.

At this point I still wasn’t convinced that it was happening – it’d been impossible to find any ‘official’ information on the internet, because the restaurant doesn’t advertise the happy hour. I decided to confirm with the doorman.

I stood in front of him, and my mind totally blanked. I couldn’t think of words in Spanish or English.

“Uh…siete? Siete horas?” I said. Seven hours? What was that even supposed to mean? Two weeks of Spanish class and I’m still incompetent.

His face revealed nothing, except that he thought I was an idiot. The light shone off of his bald head. I started to sweat.

Finally, he spoke.

In perfect English, of course.

“Seven. Happy hour starts at seven.”

We took a walk around the block and were seated instantly when we returned. It was fancy inside; neither of us had been in a restaurant like this for a long time, where the waiters wear long aprons and there are wine glasses on the table. I think I saw two wine glasses the whole time we lived in Yeongwol.

Interior of La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Such a change from sitting on the floor and eating with chopsticks.

Our waiter gave us our choice of table and asked, in Spanish, if we were familiar with the system.

“Soy Australiano,” Jared responded, misunderstanding his question. I’m Australian.

After the briefest of pauses, the waiter switched effortlessly to English. Luckily, ‘the system’ was easy to follow – order whatever you want, but get out by eight.

We only needed a quick glance at the menu to make up our minds: a bottle of water, bottle of Malbec, and starter of chorizo, followed by one steak to share – the 600 gram portion of ojo de bife, ribeye steak. While we waited for our meat feast, we munched from a bread basket.

Chorizo

Chorizo, with chimichurri and…orange sauce. That’s its technical name.

The chorizo was good. Admittedly, it could have been an all-beef hot dog and I wouldn’t have known much different, but I enjoyed every bite.

And the steak – I could not find a camera angle that adequately captured how big it was. Thicker than I’ve ever seen, and still pink inside (our choices were medium or medium rare – we went with medium), it was accompanied by seven mini-sides. I’m going to go ahead and tell you about them, because they were delicious.

  • Fried provolone (good old fashioned cheese sticks)
  • Lentils mixed with stuff that tasted good
  • Beans mixed with stuff that tasted good
  • Corn mixed with stuff that tasted good
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mashed sweet potatoes
  • Couscous and cherry tomatoes

Whew. Good thing I’m not a food writer. That was tough to describe.

Ojo de bife at La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Mooooooo.

When we were halfway through our steak, the waiter replenished some of our side dishes. I reached for another cheese stick, not sure if it was the right move (my head said no, but my heart said yes).

That was when I noticed Jared. His eyes were kind of unfocused and he was swaying gently, gazing at a point on the wall behind me.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“I feel kind of weird,” he said. “Not sick. Just…weird. Not all there. Like I’m high on something.”

It wasn’t until later that we understood – Jared was in the throes of a meat coma. This was easily the most meat we’d consumed in one sitting for 2 years. Starting with the chorizo might have been a mistake.

With or without the sausage, I don’t think we would have managed to finish the whole steak. I’m not sure humans were meant to consume that much beef in one go.

Remaining ojo de bief La Cabrera

The last bites of steak that we failed to finish.

I still asked for a dessert menu, though. The waiter checked his watch, confirmed that we still had about 10 minutes, and brought it out.

Chocolate cake, creme brulée, fruit and ice cream, bananas flambé…in the end, I couldn’t do it. Plus I’d already had an alfajor cookie before dinner. (What? I was hungry.)

So we made a selection from the lollipop tree (a lollipop tree!) and paid our bill – $190.20 pesos, or $40 USD.

Forty bucks. For all that plus a lollipop tree.

Lollipop tree La Cabrera, Buenos Aires, Argentina

I chose blueberry & yogurt. It was divine.

This morning we told our Spanish teacher about our noche de bife and she nearly fell over when we told her we’d eaten at 7 o’clock. As Jared said later, she almost looked offended.

“Even 8:30 is early for dinner,” she explained. “I never eat before 9PM on a weeknight.”

I wanted to ask her if she’d ever been in a meat coma, but I wasn’t sure how to phrase it.

Some things you just can’t put in words.

 

19 Responses to “Meat Comas Are Real: Getting Carnal At La Cabrera”

  1. Okay, 1. You guys move FAST. That twitter chat was like what, yesterday? and 2. I grew up in a Chinese household, meaning dinner at 5 pm sharp every day; even if I had a post-dinner snack I never ate anything after 8. The idea of a 9:30 pm dinner practically gives me a heart attack.

    • What can I say? We were ready for some steak and had just run out of food in the fridge.I noticed in Korea that dinners tended to be early, too, which was easy to get used to. The older I get, the earlier I eat…and I’m usually in bed by 9:30, forget eating at that time!

  2. this. I want this. I want a meat coma. That all looks and sounds amazing.
    but 600 grams of steak… holy cow!! ha!!

    • It probably wasn’t great for my body (or the environment), but man did I ever enjoy it! If we go back, we’ll get the 400 gram steak instead. And something non-meaty for a starter. One meat coma is probably enough for a while.

  3. Sounds AMAZING! And “mixed with stuff that tastes good” is a perfectly adequate description :)
    I had steak for the first time in two years in Malaysia – total meat coma. Soo worth it though ^^

  4. I’m hungry now! I first heard of La Cabrera from two Chilean friends who invited us for beers in Patagonia after five days of wilderness trekking (a big hunk of meat never sounded so good). A few weeks later, we arrived in BsA and had to hunt down the legendary spot. So glad we did. Oh, the memories of that blue cheese smothered over my steak…

    • I would have eaten anything after five days of trekking – cow, llama, guinea pig, anything! I had read that it was a bit touristy, but honestly, that doesn’t put me off at all. I think my heart would have stopped if we went with the blue cheese option…but maybe next time!

  5. I don’t remember those extra charges!!! Although to be fair… i pretty much was in a perpetual meat coma for my entire time in Buenos Aires.

    Edna is right… you really do move fast!

    The crowds outside La Cabrera can’t be predicted. We went 4x and twice it was pretty empty and twice there was already a line by 645… you just never know!

    We took a photo of our 600 gram steak with meg’s hand next to it and the steak was at least 3x bigger!

    • I wonder if the extra charges aren’t new – they seem to be popping up around town, but the happy hour deal is still technically 50% off. I was fully expecting crowds, so it was a pleasant surprise when there weren’t any, but it looks like we were just lucky! It’s hard to have a concept of how big 600 grams of meat really is – that sums it up nicely that it was 3x the size of Meg’s hand. And probably 3x the size of my stomach, too, but it all worked out in the end.

  6. En argentina nunca se come antes de las 20, incluso las 20 es demasiado temprano, la mayoria de las persona regresamos a nuestras casas a esa hora, por eso es que siempre se come alrededor las 10p.m yo no puedo ni imaginarme comer a las 17.. es muy temprano!!

    • Yo suelo comer entre las 6PM y las 7:30PM, asi que yo no puedo ni imaginarme cenar a las 10PM! Quizas yo necesito practicar comer como las portenos :) (Disculpe mi espanol mal)

  7. I am SHOCKED AND APPALLED that you did not finish that steak. As a rabid carnivore, I mean, I’m so offended I don’t know if I should even comment on the fact that this post makes me want to gnaw through my screen until I somehow reach Buenos Aires then force feed you the remaining steak, before devouring an entire one myself.

    Plus the chorizo.

    • Not gonna lie, I’m a little afraid of you right now. You’re like a reverse boot camp personal trainer. But in my defense, a meat coma is like a disease. A wonderful, wonderful disease that makes you do things you might regret in the future, like leaving behind bits of steak that you would have drop kicked babies for when you lived in Korea. Don’t worry, I regret it. Please don’t gnaw through the computer screen because I am 100% sure it will not taste good. But if you do try and you do make it to Buenos Aires via computer screen, please tell me so we can go together and this time, I promise, I’ll finish the whole thing!

  8. gracias a dios no soy porteña! ellos no conocen el gusto de la buena carne, y si vos lo queres conocer tenes que ir al interior de Argentina, la mejor carne esta en la provincia de Santa fe! y quédate tranquila que escribís mejor que muchos/as de aca!

  9. I WANT TO EAT ALL OF THAT!!!!!! New bucket list!

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