Buenos Aires Round Up

by Matt on May 31, 2009

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You know you’ve taken an amazing vacation when you’re so relaxed you can’t even form complete sentences nor sit up straight. And that’s exactly how I feel after my trip to Buenos Aires, a city I love so very very much.  This third trip to Argentina’s capital was a bit different for me, filled with amazing traveling companions and a much more relaxed schedule. There were good meals and there were great meals. There were some duds, too. But more on that later.

Because a few of you have already emailed asking me how it went and if I have any recommendations I’m just gonna jump into this blog post. Consider it kinda scrapbooky and all over the place, ok? Oh, and I wrote a poem, too. Thank you. I love you.

»» Restaurants

Tegui «  Costa Rica 5852
Called the hottest spot currently in Palermo, this new joint is headed by the former chef of Casa Cruz Germán Martitegui. The tasting menu was great and creative but I did not take notes. I’m sorry. But I can tell you that it’s quite possibly one of the most beautiful spaces I’ve seen in quite some time. Super chic. The graffitied exterior and hyper modern outside door really made the designer in me weep. I’d certainly go back as it was one of my favorite meals in Buenos Aires.

Bahia Madero «  Alicia Moreau de Justo 430
No trip is complete without a visit to Casa Rosada and then a stroll down to Puerto Madero. It’s touristy (think Fisherman’s Wharf but not so out of control) but a great place for lunch. Bahia Madero is a great place to sit outdoors, people watch, have a glass of wine or five and enjoy some nice pasta dishes before returning to the task of sight-seeing.

Drinks at Faena «  445 Martha Salotti
Go ahead, be a lookie loo and have a few drinks in the hotel lounge. Located in Puerto Madero, it’s not in the part of town I’d want to stay in but for those business travelers seeking lux and quiet I’m sure this hits the spot. It’s really a gorgeous hotel. It’s too much for me but great to check out. I had a cocktail that tasted like an almond muffin topped with Barbasol. And I actually liked it.

Ponza «  Gorriti 5996
I know there is a shortage of seafood in Buenos Aires so I’m a bit reluctant to say this is a bad place; let’s just say it’s lackluster. While I appreciate its seafood-driven concept I’ll be the first to admit I have annoyingly high standards when it comes to fish. It was fresh, I’ll give them that. But perhaps you’ll like it when you find you just cannot eat another piece of meat.

Olsen «  5870 Gorriti
Olsen shows its wear and tear and may not be the darling it once was but in a town of beef it’s nice to have a change of pace. Great sandwiches and a perfect spot for brunch. Or just to come and drink. I love the space, I hated my bloody mary.

La Cabrera «  Cabrera 5099
Yes, it’s now completely overrun with tourists and packed to the gills, but this parrilla is worth checking out. Keep in mind that portions are insane and you’ll be best suited if you don’t eat a day before dinner.  I warned you. If you want to read more about it you can click here.

Grappa «  El Salvador 5800
Oh, I’m conflicted. The Pizza Pedant in me must go away — far, far away — for me to enjoy pizza in Argentina. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s not the kind of pizza I enjoy. But the large, freshly grilled flatbread pizzas at Grappa hit the spot on Sunday night. A bit salty with too much cheese but it proves my point: put enough prosciutto and arugula on anything and I’ll eat it completely.

El Bar del Gallego «  Bonpland 1703
I’ve written about this place before and was ecstatic to find it now has its own Facebook group. And even after all these years this joint is still one of my favorite places in the world. Even if they made fun of us over and over and over and over again. Not much in terms of variety, but is that really necessary? Ojo de bife, a few Milanesas, some quilmes. You think you actually need anything else? I’m almost embarrassed to say I’ve been here about 15 times.

Osaka «  Soler 5608
Oh, Osaka, how I wanted to like you. Especially since you were so highly recommended by sooooooo many people.  Peruvian Japanese fusion is the rage, I understand this.  But you know what? I didn’t care for it. It just wasn’t there for me in terms of flavor, sophistication and taste. And while it might be a great place for a special evening out with friends it was too expensive and too trendy with lackluster service. My deconstructed ceviche saved the evening otherwise it would have been a complete bust. Remember, I live in Los Angeles where I can get my fill of crowded trendy places every night of the week and some of the best Asian food you’ll ever have.

La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar «  Bolivar 865
From Food & Wine, May 2009: “Alejandro Diglio applies his training at Spain’s El Bulli to the bargain 10-course tasting menus in his San Telmo wine bar—with more than 70 local by-the-glass offerings.”  In my opinion there were some hits but mostly misses. That’s really all I’m going to say.

El Obrero « Caffarena 64
Nestled among the car repair shops and factories of La Boca is El Obrero, a gem filled with the working locals.  It’s the sort of restaurant that makes me cry. Framed photos and memorabilia adorn the walls but the real star is the food. We had no business ordering the insane amount of food and I’m in pain just thinking about our overindulgence but I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. The tortilla de acelga, a Spanish tortilla filled with chard, was one of the best things I tasted the entire trip. And the tortilla with tomatoes and chorizo, too. And the pastas. Ok, everything. One of the absolute best restaurants in Buenos Aires, I’m telling you. But do take a cab to get there and to leave. You don’t want to wander around the neigborhood.

Standard «  Guatemala 2003
I’ve visited this place right after it opened a few years back and was happy to see that it’s still going strong. The menu has been tweaked, the lighting upped a bit, but the food here was just as delightful as before. The concept: a modern take on the venerable Argentine parrillas of the past, complete with gorgeous wood-paneled walls and waiters in retro sleek attire. Actually quite chic and tasteful and I highly recommend this spot.

Casa Saltshaker «  www.saltshaker.net
A delightful private dinner at Dan Perlman’s Casa Saltshaker was a nice change from the loud crowded restaurants of Buenos Aires. We’re all still talking about the soup and I have every intention of nagging him for a recipe, wink wink nudge nudge.

My friends + butcher shop + parrilla in our loft = two nights of dinners
So this isn’t a restaurant listing but having been completely in love with Argentina’s beef I wanted to get my hands on a few cuts and try grilling. I wanted to see how the cuts differed from what we get here, how the beef looks and feels and most importantly how it cooks differently. Grass fed from beginning to end, the beef is everything you’ve heard about and more. Completely different with the most sublime flavor.

Trattoria il Ballo del Mattone «  Gorritti 5934
I really don’t know how to describe this place. Part gallery, part bar with shows and music, part restaurant, this electic spot serves up good housemade pastas with some nice starters. Completely packed at 10pm with a gregarious crowd, the wait staff and service was delightful and we all couldn’t help but notice how friendly everyone was. We felt as if we stumbled into the space of a group of friends who decided to open a restaurant. It was a great change of pace and one of only places where we found organic Argentine wine on the menu.

La Fabrica Del Taco «  Gorritti 5062
We acted on Lisa’s twitter suggestion and headed to La Fabrica Del Taco for a quick lunch. I’m Mexican American, I’m from Texas, I like to think I have some experience in the Taco Department. Would I like it? Would I hate it? What would tacos be like down here? I’m happy to report that for the most part it was a delightful experience and one of the only place we could find anything with heat. I loved the Vulcan, a tostada with various toppings and the beans were the best thing on the menu. Dare I say I felt like I was back home for a split second? Thanks to this place I have learned to accept that Argentines do not like heat. I will no longer fight it.

Alvear Palace Brunch «  Avenida Alvear 1891
Sometimes it’s just fun to get all gussied up and head to a big fancy brunch where you’re served by waiters in white gloves. We’ve been told about the brunch at this exquisite hotel for ages and finally decided to pay a visit. I’m from the school of thought that a buffet is a buffet is a buffet but Alvear’s is far from pedestrian. Quite nice and fancy but maybe lost on this boy as I couldn’t stop flocking to the salads and raw vegetables after a week of eating in Buenos Aires. I did, however, take advantage of glasses of champagne at noon and again at 12:17, 12:42, 1:03, 1:16, 1:18, 1:40 and 1:52pm.

»» A Poem About Taxis

cab-shotThere is a beautiful dance
Of give and take
Of aggression and grace
When driving in Buenos Aires

Of filling a space
And ignoring the lines
To get you to your arrival

Bits and corpuscles
Flowing in arteries
No judgment, only speed

I’m glad I made it alive.

»» The Product That Prompted A Heated Discussion

blancaflor1File under: cultural (in)sensitivity, gone too far or not gone enough, stereotypes, no big deal, it’s a huge deal, I like her skirt, mixed emotions.

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»» You Gotta Love A Country When…

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You can find Jamon Iberico-flavored chips and snacks and entire aisles devoted to the heavenly Dulce De Leche. And you even have to ask why I keep going back?


»» The World’s Tiniest Alfajortiny-alfajor1

From the tiny dessert tower at Alvear Palace. I can’t decide if it was cute or the world’s cruelest joke. I’ll get back to you on that.

»» And Some Random Shots To Close Out An Already Random & Scatterbrained Post

We had such an excellent time and can’t wait to return.  And Marcela, a million hugs and kisses from us. I can’t wait to make that dessert!

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