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Mar 8, 2009 06:15 AM

Best restaurant in Buenos Aires- La Cabrera

Staying in Buenos Aires for two weeks, I've had the opportunity to try all the usual dining suspects in the city, like Standard Restaurant, 647 Dinner Club and Dada. By far, the best restaurant and dining experience was at La Cabrera Norte.

This restaurant is so wildly popular among Porteños and tourists alike, that they had to open a second location half a block down the road. We tried our hand at the original location first (around 9pm on a Friday) and the poor hostess just shook her head before I could even open my mouth. So, we walked down to the smaller location, not giving up on the idea!

The hostess was extremely kind and patient and let us know the wait would be about 45 minutes. In the States, this would be unheard of. I tend to not wait for food, because there is always another great restaurant right around the corner! This might be true in Buenos Aires as well, but something told me it would be worth the wait.

Moments later, the hostess began handing out glasses of bubbly to everyone waiting to be seated. I nearly fainted. Without even tasting the food, Cabrera had already won my heart. Then, something equally incredible happened: she began passing hors d'oeuvres! What, what?!? Plates of chorizo, cheese stuffed olives and bowls of peanuts came out endlessly while our champagne glasses were re-filled. We hardly noticed when the 45 minute mark came and went- we were having a great time waiting in the warm summer night on a busy BA street, chatting with others in line.

About an hour later (yes, we did wait nearly 2 hours for a table) we were finally sat. Through some kind of kismet, the British brother and sister we were chatting with outside, were sat right next to us at a shared table for four. The party continued! Right away, beautiful baked bread and butter came to the table and a very friendly waiter brought us our menus.

We ordered a lovely bottle of Malbec for only 45 pesos (about $12 USD) then more chorizo, perfectly grilled vegetable skewers and a great big steak for my partner. It was an overwhelming amount of food. With each order, and totally worth the cubierto (Argentine table charge we found quite charming), they bring out little bowls of everything from mashed potatoes to baked apples to sauteed garlic and a hummous like dip.

At 11pm, the restaurant was packed to the gills with noisy and chatty diners all around us. Songs were being sung by a boisterous table in the back and glasses clinked at tables everywhere. I believe this atmosphere (and maybe the booze too) made the food taste so much more delicious. This meal, this wine, this setting- is exactly the kind of BA dining experience we had been waiting for.

Finally, around 1:00 am we decided we were full and tried desperately to get our waiters attention for the bill (a game I have become very good at after 2 weeks here). After we finally did get the bill, finished our wine and presented our credit card (the whole meal was 200 pesos, about $56 USD), something magical happened. More bubbly! Maybe our waiter sensed our impatience for the bill, maybe he liked us, maybe everyone gets bubbly at the end; I don't care! Send me off happy, why don't you!

At this point, the restaurant was starting to quiet down and people were making plans for their next move, including us and our new British friends. Before we could get up to go, our smiling waiter brought around a huge tower of lollipops for us to choose from. Seriously? Cabrera, could you get any more adorable? As we walked out into the warm BA night with lollipops on our tongues, full bellies and that feeling of euphoria after a great meal, I began to really feel like a Porteño.

La Cabrera, I love you. We will be seeing you again my dear.

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  1. Concur entirely.
    Proof: the attached pictures, shamelessly stolen from fellow chowhounder WATERBUFFALO.
    Notice the small round plates designed to match the main course they come with.
    As in: poached pears to accompany a "matambrito de cerdo".

    3 Replies
    1. re: RicRios

      No attachments? Let's give it another try:

      1. re: RicRios

        Ric I know your posts from the Los Angeles Board.. I was at La Cabrera is October and will be back at the end of April.. I was not that impressed with my lunch. The beef had a rather green taste to it. I presume my pallate is not aligned with grass feed beef. However in the rest of BA journeys and in Mendoza I did not taste the green. What do you think. In any event its nice but I like a more laid back local parilla.. Don Julios is on my list for April and Bar Gallegos..

        1. re: Foodandwine

          My opinion is probably worth less than the proverbial penny.
          All I know is, I took a bunch of locals with me ( table of 7 IIRC ).
          All the locals (no exceptions) were superlatively impressed.
          And let me tell ya, these guys & girls are not easy to impress. At least foodwise.
          Next time in BA try these two gems: the French Combattants & the Centro Vasco Francés. You can look them up in oleo.

    2. I also concur. When I was in BA La Cabrera was - by far - my best dining experience.

      1. Just got back from my first trip to BA and La Cabrera definitely lived up to the hype. We tried several other parillas including Don Julio, La Brigada and El Desnivel, yet La Cabrera was the only one to which we made a return visit before we left. The steaks both times we went were cooked perfectly, the sampler of sides were tasty and I had the best black sausage ever. the chorizo is also good.

        4 Replies
        1. re: fastmoney

          I was there a month ago and I still can't stop thinking about this restaurant. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city in every way, the people are lovely, the food great everywhere but this place just stands out above everything. I can't recommend it highly enough.

          1. re: deadre

            An interesting small but tastefully furnished place to try is La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar. I read that the chef trained in molecular cuisine with Ferran Adria (of the famed El Bulli in Spain). The 14 course tasting menu with a selection of wines runs about $100US, (as compared to over $500 in Spain). I'm not going to explain the menu, and doubt that I could, but IMHO about 1/3 was mind boggling, 1/3 just good, and 1/3 not that impressive. Well, it's not El Bulli or Per Se in NYC, but at least you don't have to reserve a year in advance (yet).

            I tried the rib eye at La Cabrera, Las Nazarenas, La Brigada and Cabana Las Lilas. The latter was the only one with no gristle, but that's just my experience. Who cares if tourists like the place? I'm one.
            Wanted to try lunch at El Obrero, but after 45 min. the taxi driver gave up, so we wound up at La Munich in Recoleta. Not great, but food was well made despite huge diner-like menu.
            Steak surfeit? Try Dora on Reconquista (Microcenter) for fish as fresh as you'll get in town.

            1. re: alt.

              We went to La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar and the chef may have "trained" with Ferran Adria, but do not expect anything to that level. You can't compare them at all.

              1. re: ciaolexie

                Overall, how would you describe your meal there - have you had the tasting at Pura Tierra as a comparison?

        2. was just there last week for my last lunch. spectacular! had the rib eye and lomo a la plancha. not gristly at all.

          on the plane home i said to my companion i already knew where we'd be eating our first meal in BA next year ;D miam miam...

          1. We had dinner at La Cabrera within the last few days as well, and although the tenderloin (we shared the thyme seasoned tenderloin) was done to perfection and delicious, we were not as crazy about the sides. A lot of little dishes that we thought could be more flavourful - some of which could be left out altogether. Our service was not attentive, nor amiable, but rather quick and non communicative. We were SO looking forward to this dinner and although I would go back (perhaps on a weekday night), it was somewhat disappointing.

            I would say that our dinner at Lo de Jesus was excellent....anyone else been there? We loved our great big plate of grilled veg as a side, but the beef too was done just to our taste. A lot less commotion so perhaps more our style? Service was excellent. We will likely return here....

            3 Replies
            1. re: LoN

              Where is Lo de Jesus? We're going to BA in a few weeks, so I'm researching restaurants. I'm really unsure about La Cabrera - I know it's very popular, but for some reason, I'm not sure I want to go there.