Buenos Aires Round Up

by Matt on May 31, 2009

argentina-roundup-2

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…

ham-dulce1

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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{ 4 trackbacks }

Buenos Aires Round Up | MattBites.com | Costarica Today
June 1, 2009 at 12:19 am
Link Cariño | Hissip
June 6, 2009 at 6:02 am
SaltShaker » Blog Archive » Favoritism
July 26, 2009 at 7:32 am
alvear palace
April 7, 2010 at 2:43 am

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Michele Morris May 31, 2009 at 1:26 pm

I’ve only been to Buenos Aires once but must say I adored it as well. Hope to get back there soon and will hang on to your blog post with all of these restaurants listed – thanks!

Dan May 31, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Fine, fine, I can take a hint…. this is approximate, since I tend to cook by feel/taste rather than exact measurements:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 kilo Sicilian sausage meat (ground pork shoulder, peperoncino flakes, black pepper, salt, fennel seed)
2 large yellow onions, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced small
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 fresh bay leaves
4 springs of fresh oregano, destemmed
500 gm white beans (dry weight – soak in cold water at least 4 hours and then simmer until nearly done)
Salt and pepper
1 large bunch broccoli rabe, remove large parts of stems
1 cup white or rose wine
3 liters fresh brown chicken stock

Saute the sausage until lightly browned, add onions and carrots and continue to cook for a couple of minutes. Add the wine and cook just to absorb/evaporate. Add garlic and bay leaves and cook one minute more. Take half the white beans with some of their cooking liquid and puree them in a blender. Add to pot along with the remaining beans, potato and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, simmer until potato is cooked through. Blanch and shock the broccoli rabe to keep its color, if you wish. Add to the pot along with the oregano, and continue to simmer for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Abrazos!

Alex May 31, 2009 at 2:52 pm

Thank you for always taking me away Matt. I live vicariously through your amazingly vibrant photos, light hearted blog and your first hand look at the world through the eyes of an artist/foodie/writer.

Lisa May 31, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I’d like to go just to check out the grocery stores. And maybe eat some beef.

Kathy DellaMaggiora May 31, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I’ve really enjoyed your blogs on Buenos Aires! I’m part Argentinean and I’ve been there twice. I love everything Argentina! Especially the beef! Thank you for the restaraunt reviews. I hope these places will still be there when I get back. Big thanks!

Arlene May 31, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Aside from a great post…I thought I was the ONLY person who used my most favorite word/term “lookie loo!” Just wanted to give you some props for that!!

Sarah in ATL June 1, 2009 at 7:18 am

My favorite part of the post? That you drew the opening illustration on your iPhone! You’re the most creative & talented guy around… thanks for sharing your trip with us.

Sarah Chavez June 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

Thank you for the post. I will hunt down some of these places the next time I am in BA. Now if only I could remember the names of the places that I ate at the last time I was there. I will have to start keeping a travel journal.

White On Rice Couple June 1, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Welcome back! We’re dying to get to Argentina now, thank you for the amazing recap and chow down. We ate extra veggies for you while following your beef eating fest. The great poem about Taxi’s describes VN perfectly well too!

foodwoolf June 1, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I’m glad you’re back. Based on your notes from the road and round up I think Argentina just jumped up in ranking on my places-to-go list. Thanks for the beautiful guide to what looks like an incredible food city! xoxox

Kavey June 1, 2009 at 1:56 pm

We spent a few short days in Buenos Aires in late December last year, on the way back from an Antarctic trip out of Ushuaia. We loved the city, though wish we hadn’t been to tired to do / see more. We did eat very well (though didn’t get to Casa Saltshaker).
It’s definitely a city we both really enjoyed and will return to soon, we hope!

Marce June 1, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Aw, thanks! It was great hanging out with you and the whole group, hopefully it won´t be too long before you come back. Tell Adam I love him and I´m looking forward to seeing his take on the chocotorta. Did you end up buying the Chocolinas at Carrefour?
And thanks for the restaurant list, I had walked pass Il ballo dil mattone before and wondered if it was any good, now I know it´s worth a visit, and a new Mexican restaurant is always good news.
I hope the whole Blancaflor debate didn´t make you guys uncomfortable. It´definitely took me by surprise and it´s just hard to agree on topics like that coming from such different backgrounds because it´s almost impossible to actually imagine what things look like when you are in those shoes.

Sarah June 2, 2009 at 6:17 am

WOW! Fab post Matt, I’m all smiles and drool reading it. The BA Board of Tourism should be paying you for this :-)

What application did you use for that drawing? It’s amazing and I want to try it myself as I just switched to an iphone.

The mini “amuse bouche” sized desserts are one of my favorite things. After a fantastic meal I am often too sated or too consumed with the meals flavors to switch over too a full size dessert. Why ruin perfection right? But a bite or two of something sweet is a perfect ending. And, it’s also a great way to taste more than one dessert at a meal or brunch. Sometimes it’s too hard to choose just one, so getting a non gluttonous way to sample a few goodies is fantastic.

And if their Alfajors are just dreamy and you don’t feel comfy piling them all on your plate just ask the sexy waiter or maitre d’ to make a to go box for you ;-) Flirt for food, it’s your right.

Bonnie June 2, 2009 at 7:22 am

I too have been fortunate to enjoy a scrumptious dinner at the Salt Shaker. Ah, yes the taxis. I can’t wait to get back.

Tina June 2, 2009 at 6:35 pm

This is great! I’m hoping to go this fall and this is a fabulous reference.

kelley burus June 3, 2009 at 6:20 am

Suddenly, the incredible salad I planned or lunch seems lacking. Thanks for the run-down above.

hissip June 3, 2009 at 8:26 am

Whoa Matt. What a great write-up! Argentina should make you Honorary Minister of Culture.

I know I for one wishes I could climb on a AA flight right now and head there. That eatery rundown makes me really, really hungry too!

Love the poem too:)

I look forward to reading more!!!

Olga June 4, 2009 at 10:18 am

Argentina is on my list of places I want to visit. When the trip actually becomes reality, I’ll have to check out your list!

Great photos!

Rebecca June 4, 2009 at 10:35 am

where to begin–lovely, lovely, and so glad you had such a great trip! Loved the poem, the restaurant recommends, the iphone pic. And, oh…Blancaflor! I recently used some of the Blancaflor large tapas for tortas, and thought, ok, I should post this so people know what to buy for tartas, and then I though, wait, I can’t post THAT on my blog!! Even worse, the name means “snow white”. It really is pretty unbelievable, do people ther not take offense because there aren’t many people of African descent in AR? I don’t get it, it’s just very, very bad. Loved the post, though! XO

Di June 5, 2009 at 10:20 am

My friend would die to see a whole aisle devoted to dulce de leche! The photos are fantastic and making me hungry – pity it’s at least 2 hours till dinner!

Sun Drawn Sarah June 14, 2009 at 7:33 pm

Matt,
I especially love the photo of the hand holding the tortilla/pastry (?) basket. Can’t wait to see your next adventure!

SOLE July 11, 2009 at 10:17 am

Wow, wonderful list. BUT you forgot NECTARINE

* Address: Pasaje del Correo, Vicente López 1661, Local 15, 1er piso, Recoleta, Buenos Aires,
* Phone: 11/4813-6993

YOU´LL LOVE IT!!!!!!

Liane October 1, 2009 at 12:45 pm

I lived in Buenos Aires for a semester abroad and I stumbled across this gem in my neighborhood in Palermo: http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=783. A few years ago when I was there they greeted you at the door with a glass of champagne! The menu was a little limited but everything we had there was SO GOOD. Definitely recommend it.

Daniela November 30, 2009 at 2:01 pm

Excellent post on the gastronomy Argentina, there are places that do not even know and now I feel like going. I love your blog I discovered today.

Olivia December 29, 2009 at 11:46 am

Matt, great post! I found you through a search for Il ballo del mattone. I’m living in BA now and experiencing quite a bit of hit or miss meals. Thanks again for these recs.

Julieta GB February 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Matt, it´s really great that you love so much my city and country. I love it to ( sometimes less than more), the people, the food and that it´s my birthplace.
Next visit you must go to Miramar (http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/detail.php?ID=292), old fashioned porteño food, and eat some Havanna´s alfajores, the best. Or maybe if you have a day to go to the country, to Tomás Jofre, a small town, that the only thing to do there is to eat the best parrilla.

sylvia August 16, 2010 at 4:27 pm

have you been to Korea – Seoul?

wanderingtrader September 21, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I am living down here and I love it!!!! I cant get enough.. great post :)

Roselyn October 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Just got back from beautiful BsAs. next time you’re in town, try Fervor on Posadas which specilaizes in both meat and fish (!!! surprise, suprise) on the grill. Nice crowd and packed most nights.

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