Ladies of leisure, elongated business lunchers, sick day takers,
ladies bitches who lunch, whatever your midday circumstance may be, this city is crawling with crazy delectable executive lunches. Usually consisting of some variation of an appetizer, main dish, dessert and draaaank, these almuerzos pose a perfect opportunity to get a more affordable taste of restaurants that usually charge a hefty price tag. In my endless quest to find some of the best lunch deals in the Buenos Aires, I have undertaken the demanding task of lunching my pretty little fatmouth out, to report back on some killer lunch specials, starting with Miranda Parrilla.
This is no secret spot. Most know about Miranda for its meat-focused menu with solid vegetarian options. It’s trendy, packed at peak hours, and semi-overly priced on-par with other Hollywood corner spots. While I generally would look elsewhere when in the mood to really roll around with a beefy parrilla, this meat haven offers a mean lunch special fit for a abundant almuerzo-vino-eater.
Not as complicated as Olsen’s brunch rules, diners can choose from three different types of lunch specials: main course, drink, coffee; appetizer or dessert, main, drink, coffee; or the grand slam that includes it all. The best deal, of course, is either option #2 or #3. There is a selection of about 10 appetizers ranging from items from the parrilla, vegetables, tostadas, tartas, etc. For the main course, it offers your favorite cast of parrilla characters, all to be combined with any guarnición, orrr go for a non-meat dish like pasta, sandwich or salad.
“OJO: la salsa es muy picante, eh.” If I got a peso every time a mozo warned about a so called spicy salsa, I probably wouldn’t be rich, but I’d be a good 20 pesos richer. One of the smaller and greasier appetizers on the menu, this fried beef empanada is made with flawless dough, meat-o-rific insides and a tomato sauce-like dip that would be the perfect accompaniment if it had more of a spicier kick.
A massive proponent for polenta and grilled vegetables, this appetizer seemed like it was made for me: a polenta bar covered with melted, slightly browned cheese, roasted tomatoes, leafy greens and a sweet balsamic reduction. A bit dry, luckily I saved some of the weak tomato empanada sauce dipping sauce to really make it shine.
FYI, if you don’t go for the menu ejecutivo, you can still get this fab grilled vegetable-polenta appetizer.
The quality of meat at Miranda has never wowed me, going to the parrilla more for the modern rustic Palermo-y vibe and not if you are a stickler for that perfect bite of steak. Maybe they got lazy during the lunchtime shift, but the bife de chorizo came out on the chewy side. The entraña was better, with a charred skirt steak crisp and apunto pink insides. Puré is a puré, rarely spectacular but still hard to stop shoveling into your mouth.
For other guarniciones, if you are feeling extra greasy go with the mean porción de papas or batatas fritas.
I’m a sucker for a bad ass brochette, because food on a stick is pretty awesome. But Miranda’s pollo version wasn’t my favorite – with some mouthfuls of chewy chicken cartilage, extra charred vegetables and too many pesky lemon wedges on the skewer. The stacked grilled vegetables on the side were nicely cooked pieces of calabaza, eggplant, zucchini and roasted red pepper.
I know, “warm salad” sounds totally unappetizing, but if greens are what strike your fancy, order the Ensalada Tibia de Pollo, packed with lettuce, huge rings of roasted butternut squash, sundried tomatoes, grilled chicken (better than what was in the brochette), all in a honey mustard dressing. Or if you are doing the vegetarian thang, the grilled vegetable salad is enormous and always a big winner.
And the price? Ranging between AR$64 – AR$80, a great deal nowadays in terms of quality, portion size and modern parrilla atmosphere.
Fitz Roy y Costa Rica, Palermo Hollywood
Lunch special hours: Monday – Friday, 12pm – 4pm