Welcome to the foodie mecca of South America. Buenos Aires restaurants hold court with serious food enthusiasts from all over the world. From traditional parillas offering Argentinian comfort food to sophisticated modern-minimialist brasseries, Buenos Aires offers a vast variety of dining options, rivaling other urban food enclaves, like New York and Paris.
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Don Julio – An old-world parrilla
A world-class parrilla, Don Julio is well-known by both porteños and tourists alike. Exposed brick, wooden wheel chandeliers, and bottles of wine stacked to the high ceilings emanate an old-world feel. Their empanadas were some of the best I tasted in BA, and you can’t go wrong with any of the beef.
Osaka – Peruvian fusion is all the rage in BA
Osaka has made my top-twenty-all time, overall restaurant experience list. The service was impeccable – the way it should be, but it seemed so effortless. For example, one of my chopsticks rolled on to the floor. Before it even hit the ground, a man standing against a wall (the manager? host?) made a hand signal to a waiter walking by, and he quickly delivered new chopsticks to my side. It was very ninja; it happened so quickly! We opted for the chef’s tasting menu and enjoyed a variety of hot and cold plates: ceviches, sushi rolls, and tapas. Everything I put in my mouth was divine.
Tegui – Understated modern elegance
The commissioned graffiti on the exterior walls hide the unassuming entrance to Tegui in plain site. If you did not know it was there, you’d walk right past the simple metal door with the barely noticeable name painted on it in tiny print. Once inside the modern brasserie, we walked past the towering, glassed-in wine cellar and were informed that the hostess had arranged for us to have a private room for the night. Gliding past the sleek steel and glass open kitchen, the hostess led us to our quiet, elegant dining suite. Dinner came out in three courses. I opted for the consommé with egg, flan and bone marrow on toast. The next course was ricotta gnocchi with truffle cream and sweet breads (lacking the correct english term, the waiter described it as “cow glands.” This sounded very exotic, so of course I had to try it. I researched later and realized the glands were sweet breads, which I ordered several times in BA. It did taste exotic, though). Both dishes were rich and surprising, unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. For dessert, I chose a white and milk chocolate pudding-like mousse garnished with pineapple and cookie rounds. The “invitations” (free bites) we received throughout our meal were delightful. One, a cream filled pastry cone, another- mini pancakes with truffle spread, lastly- a slice of silverside fish. The entire experience was stunning.
Cafe Tortoni – BA’s infamous (and first ever) cafe
You can not visit Buenos Aires without experiencing the oldest coffee shop in the country. Situated in the heart of the Microcentro, Tortoni is an elegant BA institution, where city folks come for cafe con leche, decadent postres, and good conversation. The cafe is known for their churros (though I didn’t think they were anything special). The lemon meringue pie was delectable. Cafe Tortoni also offers tango shows in a small theater in the back of the cafe.
La Brigada – Sam Telmo’s legendary, sporty parrilla
Adorned with athletic pennants, framed jerseys, posters and photos, this popular parrilla exudes a polo club-esque atmosphere (or maybe more Irish pub-meets-soccer bar-meets-steak house). Tucked away in bustling San Telmo, crowds line up for a chance to hunker down in the cozy yet festive grill and taste some of BA’s juiciest cuts of beef. Famous people eat here (like Bono). Check out their website. It’s pretty rad. The empanadas, beef and sausages were spot-on.
El Burladero – Authentic Spanish food in Argentina
Any restaurant that starts off with a heavenly gazpacho degustation can’t do much wrong in my book. A local porteño told us about this spot, touted as one of the best Spanish restaurants in the city. The seafood paella hit the spot, although I must say that I’ve had better in the mother land (España). The cod croquettes and all of their salads were pretty delicious.
Another word about these restaurants: the bread is killer. It’s almost a meal-spoiler because it’s so fresh and tasty that it’s hard to stop eating it.
I normally don’t have the opportunity to eat my way around one city when I travel to a new country, but because of the nature of our trip to Argentina and the amount of time that we had in Buenos Aires, we were able to get a tasty sampling of the vast culinary options that this thriving capital city offers.
Have you dined in BA? What are your favorite restaurants? What are your favorite culinary cities?