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A Carnivore's Paradise

Bring your own wine, order the parrillada and enjoy a civil bacchanalia at Pampa Grill.

When you order a parrillada here, your meat will be kept warm with some of those same coals in the hibachi-style tray that's delivered to your table. You can choose from two different parrilladas (both of which are meant to feed two people, but could easily feed three to four): one that omits the traditional offal like chinchulines (intestines) and mollejas (sweetbreads) for $27.50, and one that includes them for $10 more. Each includes two sides; stick with the buttery mashed potatoes and a simple green salad, as the frozen vegetables are mushy and the french fries mealy.

Both parrilladas, however, are heaped high with short ribs, flank steak, skirt steak, grilled chicken, chorizo and morcilla. They're all cooked to order, too. And when you say "rare," the kitchen takes you very seriously, delivering a blackened tray topped with steaks that glisten a bloody persimmon color when you cut into them.

I wasn't a fan of the chinchulines on the more expensive parrillada, for the same reason I ended up disliking a chicken sandwich on another visit: The texture was tough and rubbery (even for chitterlings) and they were bland and underseasoned. This isn't a problem I've noticed with any other meats at Pampa Grill, and so I'd recommend getting the less expensive parrillada and getting an order of sweetbreads for an extra $6.

The parrillada overflows with nearly every cut of cow.
Troy Fields
The parrillada overflows with nearly every cut of cow.

Location Info

Map

Pampa Grill & Market

10111 Hammerly Blvd.
Houston, TX 77080

Category: Restaurant > Argentine

Region: Outer Loop - NW

Details

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.
Empanada de carne: $1.90
Empanada de espinaca: $1.90
Mollejas: $6
Morcilla: $6
Chicken sandwich: $7.90
Milanesa Italiana: $9.90
Parrillada: $27.50


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The sweetbreads are a must, if only for the brilliantly soft and rich texture underneath that robust char. On the table are two jars: one with a garlicky chimichurri for your meat, and one with salsa criolla for your offal. Spoon a bit of that sweet pepper-and-onion salsa over your mollejas for a uniquely South American take on the sweetbreads you normally only see in tacos here.

After all, part of the allure of Pampa Grill is eating as Argentinians would. And they order milanesas and meat by the ­table-full. In fact, after one not-so-memorable meal of ravioli and a chicken sandwich, the friendly woman behind the cash register joked: "You should have ordered the parrillada." Perhaps she'd seen how little of the food we'd eaten after ordering; there was no way she could have missed it in the small, cozily crowded restaurant that day.

And she was right: I was kicking myself for branching out from Pampa Grill's standards and going off the ranch, as it were. Meat is the way to go here, and you go big or go home.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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