Dining out in Latin America is not only about eating good food. People make time for each other, dress up, and expect to be out for a large portion of the evening. It is a social engagement more than a dining experience. The “sobremesa” (after dinner conversation) is perhaps the most important part of dining out and superb food is an added bonus. To enjoy an authentic Latin American restaurant there are several rules: 1) show up early-ish enough to secure a table, 2) do not show up starving .. perfection takes time and don’t forget that 1 Latin American minute is equivalent to 5 American minutes, 3) go with people you love to spend time with.
We started going to Tango Sur when it first opened, when it was a tiny one room establishment with few tables and zero wait time. It is one of our favorite steakhouses in Chicago and the perfect place to celebrate a joyous occasion with close friends and family (for large parties, call ahead first). All grown up and much more popular, Tango Sur offers grown up (leave the kids at home please), cozy, elbow to elbow seating areas. Do not show up expecting to be seated immediately and I am pretty sure they do not take reservations.
If you are not a meatatarian, then you have no business going to an Argentine steakhouse like Tango Sur. Be prepared to eat meat. And for the record, asking an Argentine to provide steak well done is .. well, dumb. If that’s how you must have your meat then go elsewhere. If there is anything Argentine’s know how to do well is to grill a mean steak!! Also important to note, Argentine’s don’t waste any part of the cow so if you have an adventurous soul I recommend the Lengua a la Vinagreta (poached tongue marinated with vinegar), the Blood Sausage if they still serve it (maybe it’s called Black Sausage), and any tripe dish they might offer (if they ever did, I don’t recall).
I would not request their fruit appetizers. For one, we usually enjoy Tango Sur‘s heavy meals when it is cold. The fruit on the menu is not typically in season. Then there is the obvious. Why order fruit at a restaurant? Their Empanadas are very good but very filling, best order different kinds and share. My all time favorite is their Provoleta — cheese slowly cooked on the grill with olive oil and roasted peppers. The outside is smokey and crunchy, the inside is “melty”. YUM. Beware, it is a pretty salty appetizer. I’ll be honest, I have had everything on their appetizer menu — it is all very good. The empanadas, provoleta and the Berenjena en Escaveche are the dishes that really stand out.
I would never order chicken although I am sure it is grilled to perfection. But… it’s chicken. I want steak!!! Anything you see on the menu that contains the word “Milanesa” means breaded and typically fried. Very good option for a second visit to the restaurant. If you are considering Tango Sur for the first time, order the Parrillada Chef Specials (for 1 or 2) because they offer a variety of grilled meats. My favorite steaks are the Bife de Chorizo (I always request the Argentine cut) and the Entrana with enough chimichurri sauce for every bite! Of course, all their steaks are fabulous and to die for.
Some of the best pasta I have ever had in my life was in Argentina. Tango Sur offers a decent selection of pasta dishes, but I have not tried them. I have faith that they are good, but if I wanted pasta then I would go to one of the countless authentic Italian restaurants in Chicago. At any rate, in case you are missing my point .. I go to Tango Sur for the beef. Sadly, I have never made it to dessert so I cannot say whether it’s worth it to save any space.
If you do happen to try this place, please drop me a note and let me know what you think.