I enjoy a good steak and have been blessed to have eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the world. When visiting Argentina, I sampled what is considered by many to be the best steak on the planet. For the third year in a row, Argentina was named at the World Steak Challenge in Dublin, Ireland, as the world’s best provider of beef.

The reasons for the superiority of Argentine beef include the grass fed to its free-roaming cows, unique beef cuts, and Asado cooking techniques. The best grazing area for the famed Argentine livestock is in Las Pampas, a mostly flat grassland with a temperate climate that yields nutritious grass. The cows in Las Pampas yield leaner, more flavorful, and healthier beef, free of antibiotics and growth hormones. American beef is often fed corn and grain, which is not the natural choice of diet for a bovine and which may lead to health problems. Argentine beef is reported to carry less risk of cholesterol or heart disease because of its more natural diet.

Argentinian steaks are cut so that they have a more uniform texture than an American T-bone steak. This means that they will cook more evenly. What would be called a T-bone steak in the U.S. would be divided into two different cuts by an Argentine butcher—the boneless lomo and the small steak, costeleta.

The most popular cuts in Argentina include bife de lomo, which is tenderloin with minimal fat; bife de chorizo or bife de cuadril, otherwise known as sirloin or New York strip, possessing more marbling to yield more juiciness; entrana, or skirt steak, cut thinly, making it less expensive; and flank steak, called vacio, which has a thin layer of fat, making it tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Other popular cuts include ojo de bife, or rib-eye; asado de tira, which are short ribs; and angosto, a rich, fatty meat.

Asado cooking is similar to barbecuing, with important differences. Asado focuses on slightly smoking the meat and slowly cooking it on an open-fire grill, called a parrilla. Parillas are often made with volcanic stones or ceramic bricks that can resist high temperatures for hours. Black metal grills would not withstand the heat of Asado cooking. Argentinians eschew propane or gas, instead favoring wood or charcoal-fueled fires.

Chimichurri sauce is a common accompaniment to Argentine steak, though it needs nothing but perhaps a bit of salt and pepper. To order a medium steak with a little pink, one would request it “a punto." Medium rare is requested “jugoso,” and very rare is “vuelta y vuelta.” I personally would not risk the rebuke or offense of ordering a well-done steak in Argentina.

While one can order Argentine steak in many of the world’s fine restaurants and even have it shipped home by mail order, enjoying steak at an authentic parrilla is a singular experience. Don Julio Steakhouse in Buenos Aires boasts the best steaks in the country. It was named Latin America’s Best Restaurant in 2020 (currently listed as number two) and one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (in the nineteenth spot as of this writing). Reservations must be secured months in advance, but there is a standby line that forms a half hour or more before opening each day. Those in line are treated to champagne and tasty empanadas while they wait.

The wait is worth it. Don Julio’s service is impeccable, and the steaks do not disappoint. The outdoor patio is pleasant, and the indoor restaurant features hundreds of wine bottles on which messages of thanks are inscribed.

On my first visit to Don Julio, a vegetarian friend accompanied me. Luckily, the side dishes, like the heirloom tomato salad, are fresh, flavorful, and satisfying. Moreover, the sommelier is a top award-winner who adeptly guides diners to the best choices to complement their meals.

One can visit the family-owned cattle ranches that dot the country by taking a tour hosted by authentic gauchos. Multiple tour companies operate such tours out of Buenos Aires, and the cost is relatively low.

Gauchos are skilled horsemen and cowhands of the Argentine grasslands. Their costume usually includes a chiripa girding their waists, a woolen poncho, a neck scarf or bandanna, a wide-brimmed hat, and long, accordion-pleated trousers, called bombachas, that are gathered at the ankles and cover the tops of their high leather boots. Gauchos have been romanticized as rugged, nomadic men who shun modern living to pursue simpler lives in Argentina’s lowland Pampas.

Gaucho tours typically include an Argentine beef lunch at a working estancia, a gaucho riding demonstration, and optional horseback riding. Folk singing and dancing were included on the tour I took on a beautiful, verdant ranch.

Some people maintain that you can cut Argentine steak with a spoon. So treat yourself to an Argentine steak, even if it is imported.