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Restaurants & Bars Latin America & Caribbean

Buenos Aires Overview

annana | | Feb 13, 2008 08:14 AM

In December I went to Buenos Aires for two and a half weeks to visit my boyfriend. We ate out nearly every day. I had originally aimed to report on every venue we visited, but at this point I can only easily remember what was, well, memorable. Here's a summary:

We had our first lunch opposite the western border of the botanical gardens at Guido's Bar, which churns out delicious homemade pasta. I had the Bolognese with tagliatelle and the boyfriend had some kind of pasta with mushrooms and truffle oil. Both excellent. We went toward the end of lunch hours and a couple menu items had run out, so going will likely ensure the best selection. The owner is very friendly, making sure to welcome every patron personally. We went back a week later, but a power outage (a common occurrence in BA) had brought their kitchen to a halt. Fortunately, there were still a few warm pizzas in the oven, so we had a tasty margherita.

Sucre is a bit of a drive from the center of the city, but it's worth the trek. Slick and hip interior, including a towering, back-lit bar. Great cocktail list. I had the goat sweet breads, followed by delicious roasted hen with spiced basmati and apples. The latter was simple, but very well prepared. Our server was a little inattentive.

Grand Bar Darzon (Libertad and Santa Fe) has similarly hip fare to that of Sucre (both venues belong to the same restaurant group). Another extensive cocktail list.. I loved my sole cebiche appetizer with pine nuts and melon juice, followed by a main of gnocchi with shrimp.

For some traditional Argentine chow, we squeezed into a dive parilla on Carlos Calvo between Bolivar and Defensa in San Telmo. After awkwardly maneuvering our way through a space only slightly bigger than my freshman year dorm room, we perched on rickety stools and devoured choripan (grilled chorizo on toasted bread) slathered with fresh chimichurri and chili pepper spread. Soccer memorabilia and clippings covered every inch of the walls and meaty aromas hung all around us. An absolute dream!

We dined at Nectarine, a high-end French venue that I believe is in Recoleta, tucked into the end of a brightly illuminated alley. Excellent green tea creme brulee and flawless, accommodating, and warm service. My boyfriend loved his entree with oysters and salmon. Tasting menu available. (La Bourgogne, at the Alvear Palace Hotel, is the other French venue with a great reputation, but we never made it there).

Thymus in Palermo is great for international, avant-garde cuisine at an almost criminally superb value, and they have a tasting menu that permits separate members within the same party to order different items. I suggest the blueberry terrine with rosewater syrup. We sat downstairs, underwhelmed by stone fixtures and other cold, minimalist decor. One of our city guides claimed that this venue offered romantic ambiance, so I suspect that one needs to sit upstairs to achieve this effect. Regardless, the food is excellent.

Oviedo in Barrio Norte is also worthwhile. We had an excellent cheese plate and an appetizer of two squid preparations. Our entrees were satisfactory; I had steak and boyfriend had suckling pig. Supposedly the fish is much better. Nice desserts and wine list. Understatedly elegant and professional.

Asian fare is sparse in BA, but Green Bamboo in Palermo Soho (or perhaps it was Palermo Viejo - I get my Palermos confused) did more than satisfy my craving for Vietnamese. The food is decidedly modern; dont go looking for a bowl a pho. Fresh cocktails and creative presentations. Best avoid the puzzlingly rich and ostentatious desserts.

Finally, my favorite restaurant was Social Paraiso in Palermo Viejo (on Honduras, I think). The food is honest with a touch of tasteful creativity. During our first meal there my boyfriend announced that they made him the best pork rib he had ever eaten. I enjoyed the Risotto Milanese with Osso Buco and the Patagonian Lamb on separate occasions. We also split an excellent appetizer of three salmon preparations and a dessert with crisp slices of caramelized apple and Schezuan pepper ice cream. Friendly staff in a bright, clean, and down-to-earth setting. Great value, too, with a daily prix fixe lunch for 15 pesos. Outstanding!

So there you have it. If I have a chance, I will contribute more as the details return to me. I'm going to be daydreaming about this remarkable trip for the rest of my day :)

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