Argentine-style steaks are the specialty at La Boca
You don’t often hear people ordering their steaks “crunchy,” but you might just develop a taste for it if you go to La Boca on a night when the special skirt steak is available. It’s a steak that defies just about every expectation usually held out for good beef — chewy instead of tender, not particularly juicy and, indeed, crunchy — but then La Boca itself aims for quite a different set of expectations for steakhouses.
La Boca is modeled after the steakhouses of Argentina and ordering a steak here is not automatic — like calling out your go-to T-bone or strip — but rather something requiring a new look and in some cases significant tableside coaching from the staff.
So it goes with that skirt steak special, which is grilled with the animal’s silver skin — a membranelike organic cellophane that is normally removed by the butcher. La Boca renders it into a crust that actually does crackle under the teeth, like a beefy potato chip fused to the surface. But its essence has seeped back into the steak, with the result being something intriguing, delicious and quite unlike steak you’ll encounter at any other local restaurant.
Difference is the dynamic at La Boca. Each bite of steak can seem different from one to the next because of combinations of textures and the variety of tart chimichurri sauces that come with most selections.
La Boca’s bife de lomo is the house filet mignon, and while it may technically be the finest cut on the menu it is, for that reason, not my favorite choice here. Any number of restaurants might do the filet as good or better, but no one in these parts is cooking thevacio — a huge marinated flank steak — like this, much less the centro de entrana, a hanger steak that has made cameo appearances in my dreams since our first encounter under the heavy timbers of La Boca’s low ceiling. It’s listed on the menu as a 12-oz. cut but seems closer to a whole pork tenderloin grilled just for you. The exterior is crusty to the point of carbon then works its way back through a ruby color chart to the center for a mouth-pleasing dance of flavor and texture that goes on and on.
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