Going to Buenos Aires, AR [Moved from International Board]
Our first trip to BA as well as the Latin part of America. We are staying in the Palermo Viejo Soho area. We will dine out a lot but also would like reasonable choices for food to cook so we dine in, too. My wife and I love beef and I am also partial to seafood. We will go anywhere within reason to eat, if it's worthy. Local places are fine with us. We love wine. We are going for a convention at La Rural and my wife and I will have several days extra but our friends are unsure about their plans.
So; the questions:
1. Where to dine for beef (parillas ?) and seafood? Italian stuff like pasta, risotto, gelato and pizza? Spanish food, tapas and, there HAS to Nuevo BA food somewhere, right? Anything else I should try? And don't forget, wine is important to us.
2. Where to shop for groceries, beef, other meat/sausage/charcuterie, cheese, wine, deli items? Did I forget anything important that I should know about? Oh yeah, farmer's markets and Italian style items.
3. How about coffee? For the rental and while out? I HATE Starbucks and the like.
4. Lunch near La Rural Convention Center as my friend and I will be at all day meetings for 5 days.
5. How do you locals manage the late night dining? Naps, better genes leading to not needing much sleep, going to work at 11AM?
6. What is a typical BA breakfast?
Havanna has the best dulce de leche I've ever tasted -- you can bring home chocolate wafer cookies with it in the layers, and they have small cans you can pack in your suitcase for travel. And the helado in B.A. is fantastic! My favorite is Freddo, but pretty much any one is going to be delicious. Try chocolato con dulce de leche for a special treat.
Definitely go to Palermo, and also take a stroll among the cafes in Recoleta in the evening. There are a lot of pizza places with outdoor seating, and the pizza is thin crust with less toppings than in the States, but still delicious.
The Park Hyatt is a beautiful hotel, and it's worth going for drinks. Lovely outdoor terrace.
Parillas - there are a zillion of them. Favorite ones in or near to Palermo Viejo - Don Julio, La Cabrera, Miranda, El Trapiche... Seafood, not much here, it's simply not popular. That said, there are a few decent seafood spots in town, like Jose Luis, Lo de Rafael, and if you like paying lots of money, Oviedo. For our local river fish, Jangada - great spot for very simple, grilled fish with olive oil and herbs. Nuevo Argentino food - Urondo Bar or Almanza, they don't get much better. Keep in mind, too, that taxis and public transportation are pretty cheap here, especially if you're operating on a dollar-based income. You can get to anywhere in town for a few dollars.
Every neighborhood has tons of little butcher shops, fruit/vegetable stands, and delis with stuff like cured meats, olives, etc. - I don't live in that part of town so can't really guide you there, but you won't have any trouble finding stuff. Most Argentine cheese is pretty bland, but here and there you'll find good stuff.
Don't miss any of a good number of helado, or gelato places here - outside of Italy it's the best I've had - Un Altra Volta, Chungo, Persico certainly top the list, but even the more common larger chains like Freddo, Munchis, or Frahel top most of what you can get in the U.S.
We don't really have farmer's markets like what I was used to in the U.S. There are two large markets in town that are quasi that style - Mercado del Progreso and Mercado del Belgrano - both fairly far out distance-wise, but worth the trips to see them and find offbeat stuff. The thing is, all those little butcher shops and vegetable stands more or less function as our farmer's markets.
Coffee - best in town is the Est. Gen. de Cafe chain, the main one of which is on Pueyrredon at Arenales, not close to you, and I don't know if they have one out in Palermo. Bluntly, though most folk would probably disagree with me, the coffee here for the most part sucks.
Plenty of places near to La Rural, it's in the heart of Palermo, you won't have any trouble finding something - hit Almanza, that I recommended above, it's fairly close.
Not all of us eat late night. Most restaurants open at around 8, maybe slightly earlier or later, and if you don't mind being one of the first customers in, you can dine then without problem. There are also a good number of places, especially in more tourist oriented areas, that open far earlier. As to sleep, I know some of my local friends who like to party at night tend to sleep in two shifts - when they get home from clubbing until they have to go to work, and then again when they get home from work until they're ready to go eat. Not my cup of tea, but it seems to work for a good number of people.
Breakfast - coffee and medialunas, which are sort of anemic looking croissants, though generally pretty tasty. Or toast.
re: Tom Hall
Oviedo is very expensive by Argentine standards, not really so bad for people coming from the US. Well, the salads and deserts were more than I was willing to pay, but given the dearth of good seafood in BA, I'd say Oviedo is worthwhile. I had the Patagonian crab ravioli and the Merluza with some sort of delicious Argentine ham and parsley oil, then stopped off for helado after and I'd say that cost about 80 pesos, only 20 pesos more than if you were to go to a popular puerta cerrada.
El Trapiche is fantastic, my favorite restaurant in BA. Don Julio is quite good too. La Cabrera gives you a great platter of about a dozen small plates of veggie dishes, most very good, everything from olive spreads to mashed pumpkin to hearts of palm. No need to order sides or salad there. They overcooked my bife de chorizo, maybe I was just unlucky, it seemed like a terrific cut of meat. La Miranda I wasn't so impressed with.
I can't believe Saltshaker or anyone else for that matter hasn't mentioned empanadas! Empanadas in BA are fantastic, I would kill for a place in NY that had empanadas that matched the worst ones I had in BA. My favorite I've found in 4 visits is El Maiten on Beruti & Laprida in Barrio Norte. I also liked Dorello on Cabello 3431 in Palermo, one interesting choice they had was the Medio Oriente, which was open faced and filled with spiced beef. But there's a good place every few blocks.
A pretty nice Italian restaurant in Palermo is Casa Tuya on Arabe Siria, there seem to be a lot of little shops that make homemade pastas, that might be something worth checking out for cooking at home, I don't know, I've never cooked in BA other than eggs.
Argentina is so famous for the steak, but I like the Patagonian lamb quite a bit too, definitely worth trying while you're there. Also, everyone always goes on about the dulce de leche ice cream, which is great, but my favorite flavor is probably the sambayon.
I think it's just that for us who live here, empanadas aren't the kind of thing one goes out for. They're snack food that you might grab on the run, or maybe have a few to share with appetizers. Not that I don't eat them reasonably regularly, they just aren't something I tend to think about... they're also not unique to Argentina, you can get them in virtually any South American or Central American country. (In NYC, I'm fond of Ruben's empanadas - very different style from Argentine ones - more caribbean, but quite good.)
I'd disagree with the post below about Havana for dulce de leche. Not that it's bad, but it's about as commercial as it gets - they're a huge chain. For me, here, it would be the same as if someone back in NY told me the best pastries were the ones being served up at Starbucks. There's far better artesanal dulce de leche available at market stands and in small shops all over the city.
I'm not sure how they eat so late!! It must be the genes. I've been in Argentina for about 5 months, and I eat later, but still not as late as my Argentine friends.
If you do decide to go to Sudestada, make a reservation, especially on the weekends.
There is no Starbucks in BA, but there is an Argentine chain, Havanna. I think its worth a stop, more for the alfajores than for the coffee.
Typical BA breakfast is toast/little crossaints with jam and coffee with milk. But, if you stay in a nice hotel, they will probably have fruit, pastries, and a coldcuts as well.
A Tip - Thai-fusion kitchen called "Sudestada". I know it is in SoHo, I dont remember the name of the street. They are quite pricey (for the locals) in the evenings and also have a great midday-menu. And the food is GREAT!
You should try it out, the combination of excellent Latin American produce with a "different" kitchen style just works (imho). I am uruguayian, and I allways eat sushi when I am at home.