In the first of a new series of interactive walking maps, Daniel Neilson guides us to the finest places to pick up food in Buenos Aires.
View The Real Argentina’s whole Interactive Foodie Walk of Buenos Aires in a single, larger map.
Granted, any walking tour of eateries requires an impressive predilection for gluttony and a stomach the size of which would, frankly, be a physiological anomaly. The eyes, as the idiom would suggest, are bigger than the tummy – and that’s exactly what this walking tour is: a feast for the eyes from which you can pick from a smorgasbord (a veritable All-You-Can-Eat buffet – a tenedor libre) whatever gastronomic delight takes your fancy.
This Google Map, created by The Real Argentina, picks out, well, our pick of the best food on offer in a city that lives life by its stomach. It’s not a comprehensive guide, of course, but it will provide a snapshot, a slice, of what Buenos Aires has to offer – at the very least our favourite joints. There are restaurants, markets, bars and coffee shops. Some obvious and unmissable, but also a few surprises.
It’s broken down by neighbourhood. We’ll start in La Boca, jump in a taxi to San Telmo, and then follow the handy layout of Buenos Aires through downtown, up into Barrio Norte and Recoleta, and take a long look at Palermo, before heading beyond the barrio’s boundaries to pick out a couple of otherwise overlooked neighbourhoods. Start fasting now…
Most visitors to La Boca are bussed into colourful Caminito and bussed out again. And rightly so, this is a poor area and that camera around your neck is worth a lot of money. However, there are a couple of foodie spots worth heading to. Don’t expect a warm welcome at El Obrero, but do expect superb steaks under walls covered in photos of illustrious past visitors: Wim Wenders, Maradona (of course) and, erm, Bono. Classic Argentinian cuisine. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Patagonia Sur, star chef Francis Mallman’s take on Patagonian specialties such as seven-hour lamb and the poshest choripan you’ve seen. La Boca is also home to one of The Real Argentina’s favourite unassuming spots, just outside Boca Junior’s stadium, Don Carlos.
Want the typical parrilla experience? Jump straight off your Manuel Tienda Leon remis from the airport and head to San Telmo. The power of gentrification is strong in this formerly down-at-heel barrio (in fact much of it still is), but the restaurants that fed the workers hearty meat dinners remain. La Brigada, and my favourite El Desnivel are where to get classic cuts of beef and its offal, as well as the newer Gran Parrilla del Plata. There are also a couple of curve balls: the highly inventive La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar, the wine-focused Aldo’s Vinoteca Y Restoran, and the new and superb Aramburu. Read an interview with the chef here. Finally, don’t miss Coffee Town in San Telmo market. Probably the best coffee in the city.
Unless you’re on an expense account, steer clear of Puerto Madero. Places like Cabaña Las Lilas may do one of the best ojo de bife steaks known to man, but that scream you can hear isn’t the cow, it’s your wallet. If you want to eat in surroundings unlike anywhere else, head to El Bistro in Faena + Universe. The foodies, however, are going to Chila for Soledad Nardelli’s incredible use of Latin American ingredients. You’ll also find the excellent New York-style delis – I Fresh Market and I Central Market.
There are hundreds of restaurants in the centre of BA, most specialising in mediocrity. If you’re stuck for a steak, the El Establo down towards Retiro does the usual menu pretty well. But the best bet for downtown – and one you can turn into to a proper, albeit, life-threatingly fatty, walking tour are the pizzerias of Corrientes. Deep breath: Guerrin, Banchero, Las Cuartetas and El Palacio de la Pizza all rock (although Guerrin rocks most!). See here for a Real Argentina pizza guide.
Recoleta & Barrio Norte
Now we’re moving back into foodie territory in the upmarket neighbourhoods of Recoleta and Barrio Norte. If you’ve just had a meal, don’t miss dessert – Recoleta does ice cream better than, and I’m not shy in saying this, the whole damn planet. Helado here is so good Argentinians buy it buy the kilo, perhaps two. The obvious choice of flavor is anything with dulce de leche (mine’s a dulce de leche granizado – with chocolate shavings). Start an argument in BA by asking who makes the best helado – but a safe bet is Freddo (despite what the locals say) around the cemetery. See Vicky Baker’s blog for The Real Argentina here.
If you still haven’t had enough pizza, El Cuartito is one of the city’s best, and most atmospheric, pizzerias. If you’re looking to pay three day’s wages for a vol-au-vent (and a few other bits of cake) head to the Alvear Palace Hotel and L’Orangerie – a Michelin-starred chef designed the menu. But this blog isn’t called The Real Argentina for nothing. So keep it real and head to El Sanjuanino for empanadas, locro and other hearty dishes from the Argentinian north-west.
Finally – Palermo. We’ve listed quite a few places here – and no doubt everyone has their favourite, as this neighbourhood is the place to go for food. A special call-out to my favourite ever Argentinian restaurant Don Julio – a great, unfussy parrilla. If you’ve been to Buenos Aires already, you’ll have been to La Cabrera (the best dish by far here is the mollejas – huge sweetbreads). El Preferido de Palermo is an interesting place offering food that looks towards Italy and Spain for influence. It’s also set in a great grocery store. Il Ballo Del Mattone does superlative Italian food. It’s a fun trattoria, bar and cultural centre – you never quite know what to expect.
Updating things a little, the Ferona Social Club is one of the coolest joints at the moment – it’s as much a bar as a restaurant. For more modern food, try the Scandinavian restaurant Olsen. Standard makes quality, rich food that is a take on Argentinian classics in one very cool restaurant. Finally, for great Peruvian food – it’s the new sushi you know – try Astrid y Gaston, now with branches even in the US.
We’ll keep adding restaurants all the time, so keep up to date, and let us know if you have any suggestions in the comments below.
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