Staying in Buenos Aires for two weeks, I've had the opportunity to try all the usual dining suspects in the city, like Standard Restaurant, 647 Dinner Club and Dada. By far, the best restaurant and dining experience was at La Cabrera Norte.
This restaurant is so wildly popular among Porteños and tourists alike, that they had to open a second location half a block down the road. We tried our hand at the original location first (around 9pm on a Friday) and the poor hostess just shook her head before I could even open my mouth. So, we walked down to the smaller location, not giving up on the idea!
The hostess was extremely kind and patient and let us know the wait would be about 45 minutes. In the States, this would be unheard of. I tend to not wait for food, because there is always another great restaurant right around the corner! This might be true in Buenos Aires as well, but something told me it would be worth the wait.
Moments later, the hostess began handing out glasses of bubbly to everyone waiting to be seated. I nearly fainted. Without even tasting the food, Cabrera had already won my heart. Then, something equally incredible happened: she began passing hors d'oeuvres! What, what?!? Plates of chorizo, cheese stuffed olives and bowls of peanuts came out endlessly while our champagne glasses were re-filled. We hardly noticed when the 45 minute mark came and went- we were having a great time waiting in the warm summer night on a busy BA street, chatting with others in line.
About an hour later (yes, we did wait nearly 2 hours for a table) we were finally sat. Through some kind of kismet, the British brother and sister we were chatting with outside, were sat right next to us at a shared table for four. The party continued! Right away, beautiful baked bread and butter came to the table and a very friendly waiter brought us our menus.
We ordered a lovely bottle of Malbec for only 45 pesos (about $12 USD) then more chorizo, perfectly grilled vegetable skewers and a great big steak for my partner. It was an overwhelming amount of food. With each order, and totally worth the cubierto (Argentine table charge we found quite charming), they bring out little bowls of everything from mashed potatoes to baked apples to sauteed garlic and a hummous like dip.
At 11pm, the restaurant was packed to the gills with noisy and chatty diners all around us. Songs were being sung by a boisterous table in the back and glasses clinked at tables everywhere. I believe this atmosphere (and maybe the booze too) made the food taste so much more delicious. This meal, this wine, this setting- is exactly the kind of BA dining experience we had been waiting for.
Finally, around 1:00 am we decided we were full and tried desperately to get our waiters attention for the bill (a game I have become very good at after 2 weeks here). After we finally did get the bill, finished our wine and presented our credit card (the whole meal was 200 pesos, about $56 USD), something magical happened. More bubbly! Maybe our waiter sensed our impatience for the bill, maybe he liked us, maybe everyone gets bubbly at the end; I don't care! Send me off happy, why don't you!
At this point, the restaurant was starting to quiet down and people were making plans for their next move, including us and our new British friends. Before we could get up to go, our smiling waiter brought around a huge tower of lollipops for us to choose from. Seriously? Cabrera, could you get any more adorable? As we walked out into the warm BA night with lollipops on our tongues, full bellies and that feeling of euphoria after a great meal, I began to really feel like a Porteño.
La Cabrera, I love you. We will be seeing you again my dear.