Chasing Entrana (skirt steak)
I have been taking out entrana (skirt steak) from various Manhattan Argentinian Steakhouses and still can't find any that measure up to the place I go to on Queens Blvd call Mi Tio. I've tried Azul, Chimichurri Grill and the recently opened Buenos Aires. Either the cut is too thin or too small (I get the entire cut in Queens for about $21), too tough (need to trim the membrane) or the chimichurri sauce is not authentic or non-existent. Any suggestions are appreciated.
Pampa and Campo come to mind. I remember the entrana at Pampa (Amsterdam around 98th) being good although it's been awhile since I've been. Can't remember the size of the cut. I prefer La Portena in J-Heights to anything in Manhattan (haven't tried Mi Tio but sounds good--thanks!); used to like the entrana at La Fusta in Elmhurst even better but a recent....er...questionable cleanliness sighting took it off my list.
We went to Pampa last Friday night and had exactly that - for two "with the skin on" - the meat was quite good, not out of this world, and the other dishes - empanadas and tomatoes as a side dish, were very disappointing. In August, tomatoes ought to be wonderful, and these were hard and cold. Also, service was strained - probably due to a large party next to us. They do have reasonable wine prices though.
The cut of meat was very thick - much thicker than I get when I buy from WF/Citarella, and the portion was large - we had leftovers.
This is a little out of your way, but actually it's not THAT far and I think it's worth it: for a brilliant latin american grilled skirt steak you cannot beat Mi Bandera, at 518 32nd St. in Union City, New Jersey (phone: (201) 348-2828). Union City has a large cuban poplation and a number of great restaurants that are well off the NYC foodie track. A couple of years ago I was doing a research study in a school in Weehawken (which abuts Union City) and when my schedule allowed I would go to Mi Bandera for lunch, where about $11 would get me a splendid skirt steak, perfectly cooked (rare side of medium rare) on their 15-foot indoor grill, seasoned simply with salt and lime and served with onions on a sizzling platter. I never actually investigated the precise provenance of Mi Banderas cooking - it could have been an Argentine steakhouse serving a largely Cuban clientele or a Cuban steakhouse or something else altogether - but the food was outstanding. A lot of the town's bigwhigs seemed to go there for lunch and the portly politicians and schoolboard officials at nearby tables typically ordered fancier cuts and recieved immense sirloins and T-bones that flopped over the edges of their plates. If I ate that for lunch I'd have no choice but to sleep for the rest of the day - but anyway I was always blissfully happy with my skirt steak.
Union city is easy to get to from central Manhattan - just take the PATH train to Hoboken (it's about two stops into NJ) and then take a $4 cab ride to Mi Bandera.
I know this one's off the grid but ...
Sammy's Roumanian on the LES has one of the best
skirt steaks ever - no sauce needed. And, if you
really want one, you can get one as big as you