Most Argentinian restaurants are all about the meat.
The newly opened La Cabrera restaurant inside Polanco’s upscale Antara shopping center is no exception.
Meat — top USDA Black Angus meat, to be exact — is at the core of this new eatery’s bill of fare, and if you are a vegan or vegetarian, this is not a restaurant you are going to want to visit.
But if you are a serious carnivore and the mere thought of dry-aged tenderloin and ribeye steaks crackled over an oak wood grill is enough to set your salivary glands into full-throttle mode, then La Cabrera may be right down your culinary alley.
The restaurant, which started off as a small Buenos Aires chain back in 2001 and has since expanded into Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Paraguay and even the Philippines, specializes in beef, and with rare exceptions, that is about all you can find on its menu.
“La Cabrera is a Buenos Aires-style restaurant,” explained Argentina native Valentín Dupuy, the restaurant’s resident chef, as he explained the menu and different cuts of meat.
“In other parts of Argentina, people also eat meats such as lamb, pork and chicken, but in Buenos Aires, we pretty much stick to beef.”
That preference is abundantly apparent on La Cabrera’s menu, where anything besides beef is relegated to the equivalent of a kiddie’s menu or the token hamburger for raw-fish haters on a Japanese restaurant’s bill of fair.
Dupuy likewise shoo-shooed the idea of letting customers cook their own steaks on a tableside, which he said is viewed as crass and uncouth in the Paris of South America.
All meat at La Cabrera is fully cooked to specifications on an open grill and served sizzling-hot on a metal slab on top of a wooden carving board, along with an array of hot and cold garnishes.
And that is where La Cabrera most distinguishes itself from other Argentine restaurants in Mexico.
Every item on the menu comes with complementary garnishes, and not just your standard empanadas and mixed green salads.
In true Porteno style, La Cabrera makes every meat order a full-course meal, accompanied by little bowls of handcrafted delicacies that run the gamut from stewed applesauce and gaucho beans to creamed spinach and potato salad to stewed palm hearts and French fries.
In fact, La Cabrera offers more than 30 different types of garnishes to accompany its meat offerings.
All of which makes the seemingly rather pricey listings on the menu — which may put off thrift-minded clientele at first glance — not nearly as intimidating in the long run.
“We offer quality beef (La Cabrera even has its own tiny dry-aging locker that, while not nearly as elaborate as what you might find at Capital Grille, definitely gets the job done), and we try to make each meal a family-style experience,” Dupuy said.
“Everything is served in the middle of the table, so the food can be shared.”
And with all the accessorizing garnish dishes, there is plenty to share, making La Cabrera a bargain in the long run for meat lovers.
The atmosphere at La Cabrera is rustic and inviting, with unvarnished wooden details and an abundance of gaucho art that ensure that nobody is confused as to what kind of food to expect.
The staff is friendly and attentive, and it is hard not to feel at home in this easygoing Argentinian grill.
In addition to the meat options — with about 18 different cuts to choose from (including internal organs) — and the complementary side dishes, you can find a number of alternative plates, such as grilled provoleta cheese with basil and fried Argentinian sausage (flown in from BA).
The dessert list is tempting, but the indisputable stars of the sweets lineup are the molten chocolate fondant and the crunchy apple crisp.
La Cabrera’s wine cellar is ample, but heavily stilted in favor of Mendoza Malbecs and Torrontés from the Cafayate Valley, which is only fitting given the type of food it serves.
La Cabrera is located at Ejercito Nacional 843 B, inside the Antara shopping mall in Polanco.
It is open daily for lunch and dinner, Monday through Sunday.