Welcome to Buenos Aires, the South American Paris! The very name of the city, literally meaning “good winds”, is quite symbolic – there are fantastic cooking smells in the air wherever you go! Thousands of unique flavors are waiting to be discovered! Let’s throw away the guidebook for now and let our noses and taste buds lead the way!
You simply can’t visit Buenos Aires without trying empanadas at least once – that’s how popular these pastries are! Traditionally a working-class snack they come in sweet and savory variants with stuffing ranging from quince jam to ground beef or chicken. Fantastic empanadas are served both as appetizers and dessert at Don Julio on Calle Guatemala!
This is a cozy moderately priced restaurant with distinct rustic décor and a fantastic selection of wines. When seated – ask for a blanket and some goat meat pies (empanadas) while you wait for the heavy artillery. By the way, they have veggie-friendly pastries too, so no one will be disappointed. The main menu here is great too with a traditionally strong emphasis on beef, but with a nice seafood section as well. Try the prawns “de Chubut” grilled with oil, vinegar, oregano, parsley, purple onion and garlic – you’ll see – folks at Don Julio make magic!
Meat – especially beef – is an essential part of the local cuisine. Argentineans are very proud of the countless herds of English breeds roaming the Pampas. No wonder there are so many steakhouses in Buenos Aires! However, if you’re new to the city – Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero is a great place to start!
The menu is full of entries that can make any carnivore drool: Rib Eye, Rump, Tenderloin, Strips, T-bone, Flank Stake! The friendly staff will make sure that every piece is served quickly and with your favorite degree of roasting. You should definitely try Cabaña Las Lilas Club Steak – a hefty loaf of selected and heavenly tender beef – designed for sharing! That’s right, just add a portion of salad (Special House Salad and Full Salad are always on the menu) and a bottle of red, preferably Bramare – and you’ll have a perfect dinner for two. The Children’s menu, while not being that big, can boast of some great dishes too, making Cabaña Las Lilas a great place for the whole family.
Those seeking a more homely vibe, especially during the cold months, will find El Sanjuanino on Posadas very welcoming. This small restaurant can boast of deliberately handmade interior, fairly low prices, a great variety of empanadas and, more importantly – maybe the best provoleta in the whole of Buenos Aires!
What is provoleta, you may ask? Well, it’s the famous Argentinean grilled cheese – an echo from the extensive Italian immigration of the past. Wheels of provolone cheese are grilled to a near melting state, with a slightly caramelized crust. That way the inside remains gooey end extremely fun to chew on, while the outside remains crispy. Kids love provoleta! Oh, and while you’re at El Sanjuanino – try fries with chimichurri – the Argentinean salsa. Tamales at El Sanjuanino are also ecceptionally good, and the famous stew is a bliss in cold weather. The place also functions as a takeaway, so feel free to stack up on snacks!
The dessert traditionally comes last. What can be more Argentinean than a nice portion of dulce de leche or “the milk jam”?! Served as a separate treat or with ice-cream – helado – this sweet delight is popular among all ages. Try this sweet perfection at Café Tortoni – a 160-year-old place on Avenida de Mayo!
Café Tortoni is pretty crowded during the day, so be prepared to wait. Locals adore this place for its atmosphere and – unsurprisingly – coffee! A nice hot cup of espresso de leche in an all-wooden vintage décor has a therapeutic effect indeed. And while we’re on the subject of dessert – try churros with melted chocolate. These simple pastries, similar in a way to French éclairs are a piece of national pride! And don’t act surprised when you see your neighbors dip churros in coffee – that’s just how they do it in Buenos Aires! Oh, and don't forget to treat your inner child to a couple of delicious alfajores, you'll thank me later!
Folks, that’s all we have time for today and we barely even scratched the surface of stuff to try in Buenos Aires. There are so many more great restaurants in the city, and there are so many more traditional, foreign and eclectic flavors waiting to be discovered. However, that should do for now – the rest is up to you!