Pampita Meat Shop: From Buenos Aires to Jersey City

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In Argentina, meat is a way of life. Whether you are at a fine dining establishment, a hipster eatery, or a roadside parrilla for lunch or dinner, chances are that there are always eaters enthusiastically digging into grill plates heaping with sausages, offals, and large cuts of steak. “The love for meat runs in the culture.” 

That is why Claudia Walters, born and raised in Buenos Aires and an international lawyer by trade, decided to bring the much-missed Argentine meat to America. She and her son Pablo Kaufmann, who works in finance, found a storefront in Jersey City’s Central Avenue, transformed it into a butcher shop, and thus, Pampita Meat Shop was born. Read on to learn more about Claudia’s journey and what to expect at this Jersey City shop.

Her Argentine Roots

pampita meat shop

{Photo credit: @pampitameatshop}

Argentina’s meat culture is closely tied to the country’s legendary ranching tradition. Cows graze freely on vast, grassy plains, known as the pampas. The topsoil is rich, the grass is lush and nutritious, the territory vast and flat. 

“The cows don’t use their muscles very often, because the terrain is so flat. So the meat is very tender. They don’t eat anything but grass. Antibiotics and hormones are never used. So the taste is superb,” Claudia spoke proudly of the Argentine cow raising practices. Pampita in Jersey City now works with certified local purveyors and imports grass-fed beef from Argentina. “We only import the best meat,” Claudia said. 

Read More: All About Zack’s Oak Bar: A Hoboken Staple

pampita meat shop jersey city

{Photo credit: @pampitameatshop}

Another factor that makes Argentine meat different is the butchery method. To find an expert at this, Claudia “poached” a master butcher, Martin Miguez, from a Queens meat shop she used to frequent herself. “I only know about eating,” she joked, “so I asked Martin if he wanted to become a partner.” 

The Unique Process

pampita meat shop

{Photo credit: @pampitameatshop}

Argentine butchers cut the cow vertically, which yields about twice as many cuts as in American-style butchery. And unlike American steaks, which typically contain a spectrum of textures and flavors in one piece, Argentine cuts are usually consistent in fattiness, toughness, and taste, which allows for more even cooking. “A cow yields forty to fifty different cuts,” Claudia raved. “That’s 50 different flavors.”

To bring out the best of Argentine steak’s flavor and texture, only minimal cooking is required. 

“You only need salt. Make sure to use coarse salt. Flip the meat when the juice begins to rise to the surface.” Claudia described her go-to grilling method, not unlike how steaks are slow-grilled on a parilla, which allows smoky flavors and intense heat {but not open flames, which burns the meat} to cook the exterior while retaining the juiciness inside. 

pampita meat shop

{Photo credit: @pampitameatshop}

Our team was able to try some of Pampita’s Argentinian cuts at home, using pan broiling to replicate the high heat of a proper grill, due to the lack of one in her Hoboken apartment. The flavor of a New York strip is complex – rich but not heavy, beefy but remarkably fresh, with a hearty aroma. A skirt steak, thinly cut from the diaphragm muscles of a cow, has a more intense flavor but is also incredibly tender despite the fibrous texture of the cut.

But before steak, open the meal with Pampita’s house-made morcilla {blood sausage}, just like in a Buenos Aires barrio parrilla eatery. The creamy emulsion of blood and fat, heavily spiced, when still sizzling with heat fresh off the grill {broiler will also do!}. Or, try the chorizo or salchicha parrillera {lightly cured sausage in a spiral shape}, both generously seasoned.

The Experience

pampita meat shop

{Photo credit: @pampitameatshop}

Food is only part of the experience. “We really spoil our customers,” Claudia said of Pampita’s service. “They can ask for a cut that is ten centimeters long, with one millimeter of fat, packed in a particular way and delivered at a certain hour of a day. We can have the orders tailored to each person.” 

See More: All About Ichiban To-Go in the Jersey City Heights

Thus Pampita has attracted not only a cult-like following among real estate moguls, political heavyweights, and celebrities of various calibers in the tri-state area {the shop delivers to as far as Connecticut}, according to a New York Post article that came out not long after Pampita’s opening, but also a loyal local customer base thanks to its affordable prices. One weekend afternoon waiting for an order, a stream of customers of various ages speaking different languages stopped by the shop to pick up orders or make inquiries.

pampita meat shop

{Photo credit: @pampitameatshop}

Before you leave, however, don’t forget to pack a handful of house-made empanadas or alforjas {fluffy cookies filled with dulce de leche} — both as essential in Argentina’s food culture as its glorious parilla meat. To get a glimpse into Argentina’s proud food tradition, the experience has to be a whole package.

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Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.