Better Late than never: Where to Eat in Argentina

We came, we saw, we had steak.

We arrived in Buenos Aires early in the morning. After taxi'ing in to the city, we were overjoyed to find our room at Miravida Soho, a small boutique hotel in Palermo, ready for us to take a nap in. We re-emerged around lunchtime and explored downtown - the obelisk, the congress buidling and the Casa Rosada. We retreated back on an Orange-line-at-rush-hour-plus packed subte (The subte system is great - just don't take it with the flow at rush hour!). We chilled at the hotel, talked to its new owner, had some excellent wine (Los Cobos' Felino line) and sought out some recommendations for our first dinner in Bs As. We were recommended to Don Julio, which largely flies under the radar of the tour books, is a bit kitschy, but remains the best steak, along with the best service we had in Argentina - which is no easy feat, especially in combination.

The rest of our time in BsAs would be cold and rainy, but we managed to explore the cute and hip shops of Palermo, the trendy and arty Retiro, the city-like Recoleta Cemetary, the botanical and Japanese gardens during a break in the rain, the crazy San Telmo sunday markey... and - mostly - eat.

Buenos Aires is a foodie town. From the humble and heart-clogging choripan (mild, fatty chorizo sausage, split, grilled, and slapped in a bun with chimichurri and other sauces) to a five hour molecular-gastronomy-inspired lunch (ok, really only four and a half hours), BsAs has you covered.

Below are our Buenos Aires restaurant reviews, cross-posted at Trip Advisor:

Osaka - brain-numbing, translation-power-exhausting menu of Japanese/pan-Asian culinary delights. While you puzzle over the more cryptic entries, you'll see a parade of inventive sushi go out to other tables, and everything looks amazing. Look puzzled for long enough, and they'll take pity on you offer you a kind of tasting menu, where they interview you about likes/dislikes and any alergies, then start bringing things out. As long as you set a reasonable limit (they'll ask) of how many dishes you want, the price tag will be surprisingly reasonable (for two, with cocktails and wine, we ended up at under $100 US). Take cash or AmEx, they are practically an AmEx commercial incarnate.

Don Julio - amazing steak, amazing sides. Tallow-fried french fries remind you of what life was like before worrying about cholesterol, and the grilled provolone... well, let's make no bones about it. You're officially off your diet when you get that. Be sure to order it. The waitstaff is amazingly helpful and friendly. This remains one of the best food memories of BsAs I have, and I made a point to return for my last steak.

La Cabrera - Only go there with a large group, and be prepared to wait for a while. They offer reservations for the first (tourist-friendly) seating at 8:30, and after that it's luck and waiting. But they'll serve you wine and chorizo while you wait. Each entree can feed two hungry men without blinking. Really. The amount of food that shows up on your table is grotesque. It's certainly an experience that's hard to convince anyone to skip, but we found the steak to be on the bottom of our Argentina steak experiences, and the whole package -- not just the steak -- was over-done.

La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar (Closed??)- You have to be ready for adventure, and a few questionable choices - here. Reservations required, as they do one seating for lunch and two for dinner, and if you're too late, you have to join mid-stream or come back later. The food was exquisitely prepared, but don't expect anything within your normal comfort range. As a warning, this experience can take the better part of your afternoon to get through all 14 or so micro-courses and desserts. Others have complained about the wine pairing; we found that if you set expectations at the outset (e.g. we want to share, four glasses total throughout the meal and dessert), and take an active role in reading the menu on the wall and pacing yourself, it works great -- the pours are generous and the wines amazing. The breaded and fried (but still runny!) egg yolk in cream sauce was incredibly rich, and the chocolate rock dessert was some serious cocoa.

Resto - A tiny closet of a restaurant, with perfectly cooked ... well, everything. It has a small, focused, and seasonal menu. It pales in comparison only to the rest of the amazing foodie scene, but breaks many of the traditional rules about Argentine food - the steak is prepared medium-rare, and the variety outside of the steak offerings, well, exists.

Bar 6 - (Closed, but b-Blue Deli & Natural Bar nearby sounds eerily similar) Hip spot in Palermo Soho, great to grab a light lunch - amazing salad, and laid-back, open atmosphere of a place.

Casa Cruz - Beautiful, cavernous high-style space with overpriced, but definitely good food.

El Quartito - my coworkers here in BsAs took me to this classic Bs As semi-deep-dish pizza place. Light on the sauce, but heavy on high-quality cheese and toppings. The stuffed pizzas are amazing.

UrondoBar - This place came via mutliple recommendations, but I found it just OK. Impressive amount of house-made products, and a clearly seasonal menu (and to be fair, end-of-winter fare is challenging). I had a plate of house-made fiambres (charcuterie) and a pork milanesa on a sweet-and-sour cabbage and olive, saurkrautish bed. Everything was well done, though the pate was too liver-y for me.

The Perfect Egg at La Vineria

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