10 days in Buenos Aires
My boyfriend and I will be in Buenos Aires for 10 days in November/December. I am compiling a list of restaurants (many thanks to the awesome posters here at Chowhound) and wanted to post it here to see if anyone had any thoughts, thought I was missing something great, etc. I have read through the board but as things are always evolving, any more recent thoughts are most welcome!
I will also post reviews here when we return. We live in San Francisco and are big foodies, but like everything from casual to very fine dining, so we want to try a variety of spots and cuisines.
Here is my list:
Really want to go:
Restaurante El Federal
El Preferido de Palermo
El Almacen de los Milagros (probably the day we get there)
Other good options:
Azema Exotica Bistro
Good for a quick meal or lunch:
Palacio de las Papas Fritas
Thanks in advance! Looking forward to the trip and to posting reviews when we return.
Ok, let me preface this by saying I had MUCH better food on the second leg of my journey in Peru. Maybe it's just personal taste, but I found the food in BA rather bland, generally under seasoned for my gringo palate. That said, we did have some memorable meals, and there a few places I'd definitely return to next time around.
On the parilla front, we only made it to two big names: Don Julio & La Cabrera. I'd absolutely recommend Don Julio (lots of locals, high quality of meat, what a parilla should feel like, even if in a toursity neighborhood). The food at La Cabrera was definitely good (maybe the best chorizo sausage I've ever had, and the blood sausage was awesome too), but not good enough to justify the throngs of tourists it attracts. Again, at both parillas I appreciated the quality of meat, but even with the addition of the bright chimichurri, I still wanted my beef to be better seasoned. Biggest parilla regret was choosing to go to La Cabrera instead of Parilla Peña.
A lesser known parilla that we found - to extraordinary results - was Don Lechon. Not sure if it's even correct to call it a parilla; more like a cafe with a grill in the back. We were visiting an artist in Colegiales, and he and his wife backed up my hunch that this place was legit. The suckling pig was obviously wonderful, but shockingly, I also had one of the most memorable chicken breasts of my life (we were steaked out by this point). Why so memorable? Pounded thin and thrown on the grill, I had prepared myself - mentally, physically, and otherwise - for a dried out bird. Not so! This thing was so moist that I had to take a picture with the grill master. This guy was such a pro - my new Argentinean hero. If you eat here, get the suckling pig and surprise yourself by ordering the chicken. Nothing fancy, but a great "light" lunch if you're in the hood.
Pizza in Argentina lived up to the hype. One late night/morning we had a fugazetta somewhere at a place I can't recall, but it was awesome; another night we had the fugazetta and the napolitana at El Cuartito, and it was even awesome-er. Really, really great pizza. Definitely do El Cuartito if you're looking to try some Argentinean pizza.
Tried to go to La Cupertina for empandas, but unfortunately it had closed permanently. Ended up at El Sanjuanino and wasn't all that impressed. Their best offering was the fried version. We had better empanadas at random side street cafes throughout the city.
Last must eat for our group was the choripan, their version of a sausage sandwich that you can customize with all the accessories a stomach could ever handle. We walked a really long way along in Puerto Madero before settling on the Mi Sueño food truck. I'm sure there are better ones out there, but by this point, this more than did the trick. Makes for great late night food too.
Other Odds & Ends
We stayed in Palermo Hollywood, and this little cafe called Oui Oui was right by our apartment, so we ended up there for a couple lunches. Think there are two locations nearby - surprisingly, really good. Had a great roast beef sandwich here with perfectly fried potato wedges. Lots of other light offerings too. Cute place, trendy crowd, reasonable prices.
Places to Avoid
I'd definitely suggest avoiding El Preferido de Palermo. Lousy food, lousy service, not really anything to see here, although the people watching is half decent if you're just drinking a couple beers outside. And I'd also skip NYTimes-reviewed Tegui. Yeah, the space is cool, but you don't come to Buenos Aires for fine dining, and you'll regret wasting a meal here. If, for some reason, you ignore my advice, you can do worse than starting with their strawberry gazpacho (not at all sweet).
A few quick throughts from my recent trip:
1. Parilla Pena (ate there based on this thread): our best parilla. Probably serves the best empanada we had anywhere. Also, the chimicuri sauce was our favorite.
2. Cabana Las Lilas: wasn't bad, but didn't do a lot for me.
3. Osaka: a fun "scene" place in Palermo with peruvian japanese fusion. We liked it a lot. The ceviche was the best I've had. This is a mini chain with restaurants in LA, Santiago and one or two other south american cities.
4. Mendozo: Asafran: really good, creative, upscale food.
5. Ruca Malen: outside Mendoza, with an oustanding lunch in a breathtaking pavillion.
Thanks, jjo. Parilla Pena is definitely a must go for me, but I'm still torn about Cabana Las Lilas. Seems like reviewers are split. I planned on skipping Osaka because I'm in LA so often for work, but if their ceviche is as good as you describe, guess I'd be crazy not to include (I'm also doing a week in Peru). Can't wait for the reviews, emodrama.
Hi, I'm Argentinian, born and raised !! so basically between all these posts are almost all the places to go and find good food, the rest is a matter of taste whether you prefer modern or more traditional. I do not know which hotel you'll stay, so you can do the typical tourist route, but DON´T think that we all danced tango here!! anyway, my sister, she is a translator, help to build this site, is an official website of the government, may can help , here the link http://www.turismo.gov.ar/eng/menu.htm
Enjoy Argentina !!
We just got back from 2 weeks in Uruguay and BA. Quick report:
Dora (well prepared, slightly underseasoned), Don Julio (perfect seasoning), Bella Itallia
Bella Itallia, Dora (old school)
Osaka - fresh, creative, good pisco sour as well (but not cheap overall), nice vibe, nice space, friendly, knowledgable staff. A welcome break from steak. Note: cash and Amex only. Reservations are probably a good idea. (wanted to try Silpan as well, but couldn't make it)
Good south east asian fusion eg. viet, thai etc. (relatively inexpensive):
Sudestada (good lunch deals) - service is somewhat slow and surly though
Nacional in San Telmo (nice spot, friendly service, decent pasta and salads for lunch), although they significanty overcooked our steak (requested medium rare, got it past well done). Great pumpkin soup as well.
La Josephina Parilla - This place always seemed to be open when others weren't. They have reasonable skirt steak - the Chorizo and flank was a little too fatty for our liking. The pumkin ravioli in cream sauce was also quite tasty. This place is not a destination place, but is very convenient if you are in the area. They were very friendly and reasonably priced.
Lafinur 3006, Palermo
We also went to Guido's bar on Republica de la India....really wanted to like this place, it has a great kitchy vibe, friendly waiters etc. But the food just wasn't that good. I would have expected fresh pasta from a place like this. Unfortunately, prices have krept dramatically higher here, and they still don't accept credit cards.
If we had to choose our best....although Dora's steak was fantastic....and although we never did get to try Casa mun or Thyme:
It would have to be Bella Italia at República Árabe Siria 3285 - probably our favorite meal. Best service hands down (Nelson was awesome and anticipated every move). Fantastic steak and pasta - tried 3 different pastas, all great and fresh. Great wine list, and good wines by the glass (if you're sick of Malbec, try the Tanat). The chocolate molton desert and tiramisu killed - our kids were in heaven. Only complaint is the bread plate could be fresher (I'm nitpicking here though).
(0)11 4807 5120
Mamma racha in palermo viejo - half the menu was unavailable, the service was a gong show, we wound up leaving after almost an hour with no food.
Ice cream is of very high standard at most places. Empanada's are usually pretyy good, but we like the Uruguaian version more. Coffee, especially espresso is pretty disappointing and weak.
I'm 5 days out from my trip to Buenos Aires, and here's my most recent list. Appreciate any and all feedback, especially with regard to a puerta cerrada (Casa Felix isn't open while I'm there, so I'm in need of another suggestion). Thanks!
Preferido de Palermo
El Cuartito (pizza)
El Sanjuanino (empanadas)
Fierron Hotel (brunch)
I'm a HUGE fan of Restaurant Dora. It was within walking distance of our hotel and Fodor's had it starred saying it was a great place for one's first Argentine steak. Were they ever right! Liked it so much we returned early from skiing in Chile to get in one last meal before flying home. Ask for Bernardo Salatzky (sp?), to this the day the only server I've yet to meet who had a business card. Awesome...
I really look forward to your reviews. So thanks in advance for my planning [January - romantic 10 days]. Would you please jot a quick note on prices as you eat your way across town? In addition to being great for budgeting a visit to any of the restaurants you visit, it would be an excellent yardstick for budgeting good restaurant meals in BA overall. We would have information on a specific restaurant, along with reviews and other information, that we could extrapolate to other similar restaurants. Valuable!!
Thanks in advance if you are willing and able.
Also from San Francisco and spent a week in Buenos Aires in June. I neglected to do a follow up report, and my memory is starting to go fuzzy on specifics. Sorry this will be sort of a haphazard response.
Is Restaurante El Federal different from Bar El Federal in San Telmo? We went to Bar El Federal (very old, comfy, local vibe) and enjoyed it. Good value on casual food and decent beer. Lots of people hanging out for a while, using wifi, etc. Probably not a destination spot, but good if you're in the area.
We did go to Cluny and had a nice meal. Very different from everywhere else we ate in Argentina (closest to Azafran in Mendoza, I guess). Service was good. We had dinner there, and it's a good aesthetic and setting. A bit formal though at dinner, maybe not so much in the patio areas during the day.
If you like cocktails, a must is 878.
And I must say, I was really hesitant to go to Cabana Las Lilas. I thought it would be touristy, overpriced, and overrated. I only went when my travel companion got stranded an extra day in BsAs due to airport closure. Well it certainly was not overrated. Best steak of my life - straight ojo de bife, jugoso. It was so good I went back to days later alone (stayed on for a conference).
Second best parrilla experience was La Miranda (hip, felt sort of like an LA vibe to a parrilla with SF style servers, complete with tattoos and small flannel shirts). They had one of the better wine lists for our tastes. (Older vintages of Carmelo Patti, amazing.)
Parrillas we found to be overrated or just so-so: La Cabrera (overrated), La Brigada (so-so), had the special cut that they literally cut with a spoon, which was super tender but the service was HORRIBLE, very rude.
And something very fun if you like tasting menus is La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar in San Telmo. The chef combines some molecular techniques in ways I didn't see anywhere else in the country. Great value.
El Federal the restaurant is different than the bar. We went to both :-) Agreed on the bar there- cool hangout. Another great cafe was in Recoleta called La Biela- it has a huge patio that looks out over the square- best cafe con leche I had on the trip.
Also, I goofed in my previous post- Don Pichon is in El Calafate, not El Chalten.
Thanks for claring on the double El Federales. My brother declared he'd be a regular at Bar El Federal if he lived there. And don't order a sandwich with blue cheese. They must have given me a half pound on my sandwich (good value, but had to take 90% of it off to make it eatable!).
Yes, La Biela is a nice stop and good for people watching. Pairs very well with a stroll through the Recoleta cemetary.
Just returned from our vacation in Argentina, which included 4 nights in BA. My quick-hit reviews-
Don Julio- Very good, probably the second-best steak I had in BA- slight problem with the cooking though, we ordered both steak jugoso, and ended up with one steak rare, and one medium-well :-(
La Brigada- Probably our worst steak experience- the service was inattentive at best, and the food was just OK. I guess maybe it was a victim of high expectations
Sapporo- Amazing Japanese-Peruvian fusion sushi. By far the best non-steak dinner we had in BA. Not cheap, but definitely worth it
Cabana Las Lilas- Not as great as I remembered, particularly the service which was surprising. But the steaks were delicious as always
Las Cholas- the best provoleta grillado we had (and we ordered one at every parrilla).
Parilla Pena- the best adado de tire around. If you are in BA, you MUST go here- I will not argue with you about it. Local hang-out, cash only, food to die for.
El Federal- good empanadas near the financial district, but I wouldn't make a special trip to go here
Un Altra Volta- Bronze medal winner for our Helado-off- it was definitely better than the junk they sell at Freddo, but I would prefer either of the next 2-
Persicco- Silver medal winner- consistent delicousness
Arkakao- Gold medal winner- Italian-style gelato with the most amazing flavors you have ever had. Went here twice it was so good
Outside of BA-
In El Chalten, the small city that serves as a base camp for trips to Perito Moreno glacier, we had the best meal outside of Sapporro we had in Argentina. The place is called Don Pichon- incredible patagonian lamb and other cuts of meat- cooked absolutely perfectly jugoso both times we went there (yes, we went twice because it was so good). As if you need another reason to visit El Chalten and the glacier, this place should be the tipping point.
We spent many weekends in BA while living in Chile. Argentinian food is exceptionally good. Chileans fly over for the 1) food, 2) shopping, and 3) books and entertainment. Two of our favourites are:
High end: El Mirasol, Posadas 1032, Buenos Aires - http://www.frommers.com/destinations/buenosaires/D52703.html
Local professionals and South American tourists lunch at: La Posada de 1820, Tucumán 501 esquina San Martín, Centro, Microcentro, C.A.B.A. Please bring me some of their chimichurri...please!
An excellent Argentinian hotel is the Amerian Park, Reconquista 699, Buenos Aires C1003ABM, Argentina.
Service is exceptional, they look after you like family, majority of guests are South American, tried other hotels but checked out and went back to the Amerian. Very secure to store luggage for short overnight trips like Montevideo (recommend this highly). In micro centro near Galeria Pacifica and Teatro etc. Easy walk to Recoleta, Safe but always be aware of your surroundings anywhere in BA. Let your hotel get you a round trip driver or real taxi at night.
Such a beautiful city and the people are so kind and well mannered.
FYI: Order your steaks tres quatro in Argentina for medium rare (versus media in Chile). Otherwise you'll be chasing it through the restaurant.Oh, and it will be the size of a small roast for a family of four which you are expected to finish.
I just had dinner at Casa Mun Friday...hands down the best meal I've had in Buenos Aires. I tend to like things spicy and it seems most Argentines definitely do not. As for just good food in general, La Cabrera is still quite good as well. And athough its a chain, I really enjoyed the Peruvian-Japanese fusion at Osaka in Palermo Hollywood.
All in all though, it's Argentina, try to stick to what they do best; steak, medialunas, dulce de leche, and empanadas. No need for a guidebook or map, you can find a decent one most anywhere.
Casa Mun was my best meal in BA -- foreign born chefs are taking up the slack in the local food scene -- which I can only politely describe as boring. The night we went, there was a wonderful soba noodle soup, new style albacore sashimi with crispy onion, an assortment of maki sushi plus a delictable spicy tuna on crispy rice. And all without cream cheese. I later read on the website and that Chef Mun was trained by Iron Chefs Okuwa and Morimoto and it all fell into place....hands down the best sushi & Asian option available.
Dining out is not expensive in BA. El Mirasol is high end and 3 courses for 2 plus a bottle of wine was about $80 CAD. That's a pricey meal is S.A. In Canada it would be equivalent to $160.
Lunches are often set prices/ menu and can be anywhere from $10 to $25 CAD for 2 people.
Dinner menus are often al la carte.
I don't think 647 is open any more- I saw a reply in a thread somewhere on the board that they tried going by and couldn't find it, and later called and got no answer. For whatever it's worth, I've been to La Cabrera, and was not very impressed- had better steaks in a variety of parillas in BA, but YMMV. Good luck!
I will jump in here- I am also going to BA with my girlfriend in Oct/Nov. I've been a few times for business, but never for vacation. This looks like quite the list! Not sure how to narrow it down. From my research, I think I'm putting Don Julio on my must try list, and more than one CH'er here was very complimentary of Parrilla Pena.
From my 1st-hand experience, I really enjoyed Cabana Las Lilas, which I see isn't on your list. True, it's touristy, but it was some of the best steak I ate in BA, and I went to quite a few places.
Out of curiosity, how did you compile such a huge list? I thought I had my bases covered, and looking through this list, I feel like I barely started!
Thanks for the thoughts cactus - I will add those to my list :) Debating on Cabana Las Lilas and another parilla that I have seen debated a lot on CH - I thought Don Julio would be a good choice for that type of place and it is near our hotel.
I made the list from a combo of past chowhound, a little from tripadvisor (basically the top few reviews that looked interesting), and then quite a bit from the wwww.saltshaker.net website - the Chef who runs it has a closed-door restaurant there and does lots of great restaurant reviews (and is around chow from time to time as I understand it).
I am adding 2 to the list of places I really want to try:
La Pizarras Bistro
My reasons for compiling a big list is that I actually don't want to plan much - I'd like to pick a few places we really want to go to (maybe 3), and for the rest we will just choose somewhere based on the neighborhood we end up in that day or feel like seeing that night. So if we are hungry, we will have options that I know will be worthwhile.
My reasons for posting such a long list here even though there are past threads is because I know that restaurants fade with time - so maybe a list of currently good spots is worthwhile. I'm looking forward to posting some reviews when we get back.