Stumbling upon a good find in the throes of starvation- Las Vacas Gordas (Argentinean, Normandy Isles)

The other weekend my friend and I were going to grab some dinner and he felt like sushi so I thought it’d be great to check out Katana in Normandy Isles I had heard so much about. Now this friend is the same clown that left me waiting at Sushi Siam (see post here) because he was playing too much Tiger Woods Golf and drinking….. but he promised me he’d be on time, which was very important because we already were going out to dinner a little late and we were both starving. Unfortunately on his way to the beach he got stuck in traffic behind Critical Mass and it took him an hour and a half to get from Midtown… Needless to say I could have eaten a cow (ironically you’ll see in a second).

So finally he got to the beach and we headed to Katana. A few friends had strongly recommended it and looking at the menu there were a lot of sushi choices and pretty cheap prices! It’s on 71st in the main center of Normandy Isles around the War Memorial. We accidentally walked past it on the opposite of the street. Along the way we passed a busy and cool looking “American” restaurant, but we kept walking determined (but I guess only somewhat) to have that sushi at Katana. Katana is in a little storefront with seats ringing the cooking area in the middle so you can see the sushi and food made in front of you. Unfortunately being a small popular restaurant it was packed and people were waiting outside and along the wall inside. Too long of a wait for us being so hungry (so we were only somewhat determined for sushi). Another place I had really wanted to try in Normandy Isles is Sawadee Thai, which several people had recommended as their favorite Thai place in Miami. Coincidentally it also had sushi (which I didn’t know from looking online), but unfortunately it also is a pretty small restaurant and had no open tables….

So by that point we figured why not go to the restaurant we had walked by and at least check the menu. It turned out to not be an American restaurant at all, but instead an Argentinean steakhouse called Las Vacas Gordas (Spanish for “The Fat Cows”). From “all” that walking in the heat we grabbed a table inside ready to chow down and cool down (though there is some great sidewalk seating outside). Like I said before I was so hungry I could have eaten a cow and there were tons of steaks for me to literally eat a large part of a cow!

On the menu that first caught my attention was the chorizo and morcilla (blood sausage). I was considering sampling a couple different sausages and sides, but since I had only been to Argentinean restaurants for happy hour I decided I should get a steak. The Enrrollada was listed as their speacilty/most popular item. A one and a half pound rolled steak. I went for that with a side of white rice, but also ordered the chorizo as an appetizer. The waiter recommended the Vacachicha (thin rolled sausage) as like the chorizo, but better. Keeping with the theme of “rolled” (and the recommendation) I went instead for that. My friend got the New York steak and side of sauteed spinach.

The Vacachicha sausage was good quality, but I was hoping for a bit more of a kick. I’m not sure if the chorizo would have had more spice or if all their sausages are just more subtle. However I am glad I ordered the sausage for the fact that it took awhile to cook such large steaks so that sort of tied me over and the sausage and bread (with a thick chimichurri-like sauce to dip it in) tied over my friend. Still we were ready for those steaks!

The Enrrollada came out on a pretty long plate. I was glad to see it was thin like a skirt-steak or Churrasco (which are my favorite), but just a lot longer and rolled up like a noisemaker. I will say that it’s one of the juiciest, most tender steaks I’ve ever had and I don’t say that lightly (I’ll admit I might have used that to describe steaks at other restaurants in other posts, but this time I mean it!). The flavor was similar to a Churrasco as well, but being extra juicy and tender just made it so “Mmmm”- every bite was an experience and the kind where you want to close your eyes and totally focus on your sense of taste (I know I did close my eyes sometime!). Beyond that the steak was just massively long! You just kept unrolling and it was like “never-ending.” I had max a third of the steak before starting to get full. I took the rest home and it was my breakfast and lunch the next day (and it was just as good re-heated up)!

Now for those of you who read my post on Las Vegas Cuban restaurant (if not the post is here!), which was pretty much an ode to rice and beans, you might be wondering how the side of white rice was. The rice definitely met my standards and I wish as a side it had been a bit bigger! I finished it all like that and didn’t have any leftovers to take home (though to be honest if the order had been bigger I probably still would have finished it all!).

My friend had a similar lovefest with his New York steak. If anything he probably raved about it even more than I did mine. The New York steak was more traditional- a big hulking piece of beef- that my friend said was also tender and delicious. Similarly he couldn’t finish it but it made awesome leftovers just like mine.

One interesting thing to note about Las Vacas Gordas is that for birthdays the staff comes out and sings with a dessert and candle (reminds me of trips to Red Robin in college!). However they also turn on some disco lights and the smoke machine… A bit odd and interesting. The smoke does get a little thick, which didn’t bother me too much, but I saw a few other people bothered by it. Just as an FYI.

In terms of the timing and service it was a pretty long meal. Partially it was mental because of how hungry we were, but we were there for almost two hours. Part of that is how long it must take to cook those large of steaks and they were quite busy that night, but there was a good amount of time waiting to request stuff from our waiter. Not terrible given the experience of the food and again how long I’d expect a big steak like that to cook, but it did leave a little something to be desired.

For being so set on sushi we certainly found a very different, but equally satisfying, alternative in Las Vacas Gordas. The steaks were amazing and huge! One of the best I’ve had either in Miami and in general (and again it’s getting my stamp of most juiciest and tender!). If you’re looking for a great steakhouse, a great Argentinian restaurant, or just a very filling meal in or around Normandy Isles/North Beach definitely check out Las Vacas Gordas!

Las Vacas Gordas-933 Normandy Dr Miami Beach, FL

The Vacachicha (thin rolled sausage)
The Enrrollada “the Rolled One” steak
It just kept unrolling and going!
The New York steak
Sides of sauteed spinach and white rice
Walls of cow print!
Shots of the kind of cool, hip, Miami vibe that Las Vacas Gordas has (plus an open kitchen)
The smoke and disco lights they put on for birthdays…..

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