La Estancia Argentina: A San José meat retreat

June 29, 2012

From the print edition

The people of Argentina seem to have thought up 1,001 ways to make animals taste delicious, and the idea has spread. The latest Argentine restaurant to open in Costa Rica did so just a month ago in Barrio Amón, in downtown San José. La Estancia Argentina now serves up all the meat one can imagine, including its own smorgasbord of the finest beef and pork concoctions thought up in the South American country. The menu lets one choose steaks like flank and flap or stranger delicacies like mollejas (calf thymus and pancreas) and chitterlings (pig intestines).

La Estancia Argentina fills a moderately-sized space on a street perpendicular to the enormous National Insurance Institute building. Replete with romantic arches and inlaid brick, the restaurant is also defined by a large window that leads out into the street, inviting a comfortable draft. 

The menu’s selection will appease the most serious of carnivores. The restaurant does have lighter choices, a few salads, a couple fish dishes and poultry selections such as chicken milanese. La Estancia Argentina also offers beef milanese, a tender Argentine tradition. However, we decided to go right for the signature dish – the Argentina barbecue. 

La Estancia 2

La Estancia’s dining area.


Gabe Dinsmoor

Hunks of meat are laid out on a barbecue known as a parilla (the more expensive, juicier cuts are imported from Argentina). While we waited for the chef to cook up the meat, we placed an order for carpaccio, an appetizer that takes little time to prepare. The thinly sliced (although we would’ve preferred it even thinner) raw beef topped with capers, served as a pleasant warm-up for the barbecue.

All meals also come with bread and a trio of sauces: Spicy chimichurri, a pesto and pico de gallo. Drinks to wash down the lunch or dinner include a thirst-quenching lemonade, Argentina’s favorite caffeinated beverage, mate (in teabag form) and Malbec wines.

When the main course arrived, the barbecue’s presentation looked overwhelming. It’s difficult to make so many cuts of meat placed together look glamorous, but their appearance does make one’s mouth water. Four slabs of ribs cover a third of the plate. The rest of the space was taken by chunks of sweet bread, strips of flank steak, chorizo and blood sausage. Spices and boiled potatoes accompany the platter. 

Take a deep breath and go for broke. The barbecue comes either as a meal for two people or four people, and it’s more than enough food to satisfy one’s hunger. Ordering such a tempting smattering of meats can ruin the idea of “saving room for dessert.” But here the desserts are recommended.

Several traditional treats are on the menu. We chose a Don Pedro. Our waiter carried over a heap of sparkling vanilla ice cream drizzled with walnuts – and because every Argentine dish seems to want to toughen you up – the ice cream also is drenched in whiskey. The dessert refreshes, an invigorating complement to finish off a superb sampling of Argentina’s renowned carne.

Prices

Note: Prices on the menu do not include the 10 percent service tax.

Salads: 

₡4,900-5,600 ($9.80-11.20)

Appetizers: 

₡3,260-6,300 ($6.50-12.60)

Chicken: 

₡6,250-7,900 ($12.50-15.80)

Beef: 

₡5,900-7,900 ($11.80-15.80)

*Prices for meat cooked on the parillada depends on the cut and whether it’s imported.

Argentine barbecue for two people:

₡21,500 ($43)

For 4 people: 

₡39,000 ($78)

Desserts: 

₡2,750-3,950 ($5.50-7.90)

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Guatemala Fuego eruption is over: officials
Guatemala
84 views
Guatemala
84 views

Guatemala Fuego eruption is over: officials

AFP - October 15, 2018

The most recent eruption of Guatemala's Fuego volcano ended Saturday, an official source said, with locals escaping a repeat of June's…

October in Costa Rica: when the Caribbean comes a’callin’
Pic of the Day
115 views
Pic of the Day
115 views

October in Costa Rica: when the Caribbean comes a’callin’

The Tico Times - October 15, 2018

Costa Rica's Caribbean coast is famously exempt from many of the typical weather patterns in the rest of the country.…

Moving your family to Costa Rica? Here’s the first question to ask
Welcome to Costa Rica
144 views
Welcome to Costa Rica
144 views

Moving your family to Costa Rica? Here’s the first question to ask

Natasha Gordon-Chipembere - October 15, 2018

Moving is a tremendous process; moving countries is an even bigger emotional, financial and physical challenge. Taking the risk to…