Steaked Out: Where to Eat in Buenos Aires When You Don’t Want Beef
Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city where eateries abound. From parrillas to pizza parlours to secret 'puertas cerradas', food takes centre stage in the Argentinian capital.
These are our favourite picks of where to eat in Buenos Aires - as selected by the Jacada team - for when you're feeling a bit "beefed out."
Pan Latin American: i Latina
There are four things that strike you very quickly here: the service is seamless. Half a dozen staff waltz in perfect timing with each course on the pan-Latin American tasting menu. They introduce each dish with passion and charm, and the sommelier explains enthusiastically his choice in pairing your dish perfectly. Secondly the setting is simple and cool. A whitewashed house in Villa Crespo, with the open kitchen is at its heart. The relaxed, bright decoration reflects a Peruvian style and the Colombian heritage of the brothers running the show here.
A nice change to the darker, brooding leather and charcoal of the city’s steak houses; you might say it’s as refreshing as their avocado ice cream. Thirdly, the menu rocks. During the seven course tasting menu, flavours from the rest of the continent – mango, lime, cocoa and pineapple – invigorate the palette. And lastly, everyone loves it. Looking around you will see and hear young couples from Europe, older folks down from the USA and local porteños bringing their parents. This place has rocketed to the top of a lot of favourites list.
Fun, molecular gastronomy: Aramburu
Arguably the finest of the city’s closed door restaurants. Gonzalo Aramburu combines French and Argentine influences to his molecular tasting menu. In fact it has just entered in at 31 on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Dining here is imaginative and fun: guests are encouraged to sear their own shrimp on a hot stone, create edible watercolours and even garnish the plates. The kitchen is fully open and chefs regularly interact with the dining room, bringing out dishes and finishing plates tableside.
An established favourite in the chic Puerto Madero district, Chila offers some of the finest and most interesting seafood dishes in the city. Faultless service combines with beautiful cuisine here. The smart harbours and glittering buildings of Puerto Madero provide a beautiful backdrop. The menu is pan-Argentine, collecting influences from all corners of the country. A cool crowd of locals provide a sleek, buzzing environment. The dessert and the cheese board is a must here.
The original pizza parlour: El Cuartito
While the city’s steakhouses are a must during your stay, the Argentine city is also known for its back-to-basics pizza places, with El Cuartito regarded as one of the best. This popular restaurant has been cooking its mozzarella rich pizzas since 1934, which it proudly displays with its sepia-edges tango photos and football mementos.
Top tasting menu: Uco
Based in the Fierro Hotel on a cobbled Palermo Street, HG stands for the initials of the head chef here, Hernan Gipponi. The popular tasting menu is twinned with a mind-blowing wine list arranged by Andres Rosberg, the president of the Argentine Sommelier Association – and the owner’s brother.
Peruvian-Japanese fusion: Osaka
A stylish, and popular restaurant serving Peruvian-Japanese fusion (although the style is very much Japanese). Osaka is one of our favourites and serves excellent sushi (which is very hard to come by in Buenos Aires) as well as contemporary takes on Peruvian cuisine. Make sure you reserve or prepare to wait as this can be very busy.
Modern mainstay: Sucre
Although Sucre has been open since 2002, it still manages to appear modern and exciting, both in environment and cuisine. Chef Fernando Trocca includes a variety of tastes in his menu from Italian to Spanish, Japanese to Peruvian and of course, influences from Argentina.
Cult creativity: Tegui
Known as one of the city’s cult dining spots, Tegui greets its guests with a graffiti filled door for an entrance; however inside you will find a lavish and refined restaurant. Headed up by star chef Germán Martitegui, the cuisine is constantly changing here, guaranteeing fresh and creative dishes day by day. It also features as no.9 on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Secret, organic dining : Ocho Once
As one of South America’s dining capitals, Buenos Aires boasts a labyrinth of secret restaurants. Often unadvertised, they rely on word of mouth and insider knowledge. Combining elements of a typical dinner party and an illicit speakeasy, guests are treated to exciting, multi course meals with wine pairings, which look towards a variety of culinary influences and style. Ocho Once, a proper ‘closed door’ restaurant, from outside it appears a simple Palermo townhouse.
Your driver may well scratch their head as you tell him you have a dinner reservation here. Inside too, there is a kitsch-cool style and candle-lit ambiance. Each of the organic courses are introduced by the chef himself. Gonzalo trained at Michelin starred restaurants in Paris and New York, and the food combines French and Latin American influences.
One of our Latin America team was there recently and it went a bit like this: course one, panko shrimp with radish carpaccio and a mango, avocado and lime salad, setting the bar high. Safe to say initial standards were maintained with further plates of comforting paprika gnocchi, crisp vegetable samosas and succulent braised pork with fennel sauce. Gonzalo’s interpretation of a banana split – think parfait with dulce de leche and caramelised walnuts was a beautiful way to end the journey.