Buenos Aires – Metropolis of Meat

BUENOS AIRES – Buenos Aires – a promised land for meat lovers and red wine aficionados.

Stroll the paved streets of Argentina’s brash capital and you’ll see meat stands flowing with milanesas (filet in bread crumbs) and lomitos (steak sandwiches) – the snacks of choice for locals here.

Though these streetside eats don’t do true justice to the mouth-watering beef from cows raised on the Pampas, they do at least point to the blood-red heart of Argentina’s culinary culture.

Argentine cuisine is not the fanciest in the world – it’s more about the three Ps: parrilla (traditional steakhouses) pizza and pasta.

Porteños – residents of Buenos Aires – don’t even add spices to their foods. They prefer to taste the meat’s true flavor.

Yet, in the last decade, this nation of European immigrants has become an eclectic haven for Latin American, European and fine fusion food.

The drinking scene is as diverse, with innovative cocktails finding their way into vogue speakeasies in recent years, while fine wine is now a common thirst-quencher in tango bars.

Local eats

If Argentines don’t have some of the highest cholesterol levels in the world I’d be surprised – Argentines eat meat-based dinner – the main meal of the day – between 10 and 11pm.

For variety, there are plenty of other delectable cuisines to try out too.

Don Julio – This is one of the best spots in town to get a killer rib-eye steak washed down with a good bottle of red wine. Argentina proudly produces the best Malbec in the world. You can also taste different varieties of meat, namely chinchulins – chitterlings – bife de chorizo – sirloin – mollejas – sweetbreads – and lomo (tenderloin).

Guatemala 4699; +54 4832 6058; mains AR$80-120 (US$8.76-13.10); Opening hours: noon-4pm and 7:30pm-1am every day

Sarkis – This fairly-priced Armenian restaurant will transport you to the Middle East with its authentic keppe crudo – raw meat – and parras rellenas – stuffed grape leaves. The restaurant doesn’t take reservations so expect to wait. The good news is that it’s in Palermo, a neighborhood filled with bars.

Thames 1101; +54 4772 4911; AR$200; Opening hours: noon-3pm and 8pm-1am every day

Siamo nel Forno – Let’s face it, Argentine pizzas taste awful, despite an important Italian influence in the country. They’re full of greasy and low-quality cheese. Siamo nel Forno, thankfully, is an exception, with fantastic Naples-style pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven.

Costa Rica 5886; +54 4775 0337; pizza AR$65-95; Opening hours: 8pm-midnight Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday, to 1am Friday, Saturday

Chan Chan – This colorful Peruvian restaurant is a near-secret spot, a few blocks from the national Congress. The seafood-based menu is fresh with delicious cerviche and Andean potatoes.

Hipólito Yrigoyen 1390; +54 4382 8492; mains AR$150; opening hours: noon-4pm and 8pm-midnight Tuesday to Sunday

El Gato Negro – Although Argentines love mate – the region’s traditional tea and a national obsession – coffee yearners will love this place, perfect for the traditional merienda or afternoon tea. This started as a family spice business in the 1920s selling exotic powders and herbs.

Av. Corrientes 1669; +54 11 4374 1730; coffee and patisserie start at AR$30


Puertas cerradas

These “closed-door” restaurants are some of the most sought-after tables in the city.

The innovative concept – a chef cooks for you in his/her house or apartment – gained momentum in Buenos Aires after the 2001 economic crisis. It became a way for people to start low-risk businesses.

Cooks transform their homes into lovely dining areas and change the menu according to their whims.

La Treintasillas; at the corner of Freire and Federico Lacroze streets; +54 9 11 4492 7046; AR$300 for a four-course meal with water and coffee; opening hours: night, Thursday to Saturday

All the “closed” restaurants are listed here: https://www.cookapp.com/es/events/buenos-aires

Fusion food

Japanese-Peruvian cuisine has become one of the most sophisticated fusion foods in the capital. Menus often combine traditional dishes from both countries, like ceviche and sushi.

Osaka; Soler 5608; +54 11 4775 6964; mains AR$600; opening hours: lunch & dinner Mon-Sat

Food tours

Argentina has one of the highest number of entrepreneurs per capita in the world.

Anne Reynolds, for instance, is a 31-year old Australian lady who co-founded Fuudis, a social gastronomic experience in Buenos Aires. It offers tours with complete entree, main and dessert, each one in a different restaurant, in a single night.

“This last year has seen a shift in focusing on one type of animal. Beef, of course, is still a fave, but restaurants and chefs are designing more menus around pork, chicken and using all parts,” she says.

“Korean food has lately come to light. It’s not new but more and more people are trying it out. Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese food also have been trendy,” explains Reynolds, who moved to Argentina in January 2009.

Fuudis; +549 11314-33159; AR$400 to AR$800 depending on the tour; opening hours: Day tour from 12:15-2:30 on Fridays, Aperitours: 7:30pm-10pm on Thursdays


This guide of Buenos Aires was published by Le Pan Magazine (Hong Kong) on July 16, 2015. Link here


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