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Trip Report A Foodie's Month Long Adventure in Buenos Aires: Restaurants, Food, & Wine

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A Foodie's Month Long Adventure in Buenos Aires: Restaurants, Food, & Wine

La Dorita: Humboldt 1911 (w/ Costa Rica) Palermo
A Porteña friend suggested that we might like to try to La Dorita for our first parrilla dinner. She even made reservations for us.
It was close enough to walk to the restaurant from our apartment in Palermo Botanico. While we walked, we enjoyed the warm night air & the busy street scene.
At La Dorita I got my first chance to practice my very broken Spanish. The waiter understood whatI said. Amazingly!
I ordered ensalada de huerto, which was a salad of spinach, yummy moist dried tomatoes, smoky parrilla cooked squash, mushrooms, & shavings of Parmesan along with a lovely dressing. Also, a lomo de befe cooked juguso, which is fillet of beef, cooked juicy (rare). The very large piece of perfectly charred steak was delivered on a board plank accompanied with a chimichurri sauce. We also, enjoyed a bottle of 2008 Terra de Luna, Malbec. Delicious! We were very happy with our first parrilla meal in BA.

Sottovoce: Avenida Alicia Moreau de Justo 176, Puerto Madero
I looked up Sottovoce’s diverse and interesting menu on their website before we left for BA. It was the restaurant chosen for the Fodor’s GTG.
My choices of what to order were made before leaving home!

The evening of the GTG, we hailed a taxi to take us to the restaurant. No sooner than we were in the taxi,
a powerful wind came up and a deluge of rain poured down.
There had to be at least 3 inches of water on the streets. The raindrops
were as big as golf balls. When, we got to the restaurant the taxi
driver pulled up as close to the sidewalk possible and my DH
ran into the restaurant to get an umbrella for me. Even so, my strappy
high-heeled sandals & feet were drenched.

Sottovoce is an Italian restaurant in the very high end Puerto Madero area.
They charge a cubierto or "table fee" of 10A$ per person for the huge basket of breads,
the cracker-thin crust pizza, & antipasto. There was a 5A$ charge for the bottled water (agua congas.) These "table fee" charges are a very common practice at restaurants in BA. My DH and I shared Calamarettis Relleno for our appetizer, they were grilled squid tubes stuffed with their legs and served with a perfectly al dente risotto cake and a rocket salad. 45A$ ($13.50C) We were thrilled with the quality of this dish. For the main course we had Conejo (roasted rabbit) 49A$ ($14C) It was served with a mustard flavoured gravy. It was perfecto! But, so large that I could only eat half of my half portion! We shared a bottle of Dona Paula Malbec 78A$ ($22C.) with Giovanna & her DH and they returned the favour when our bottle was finished.
Our shared dessert was a very elegant Tiramisu with raspberry sauce. The service was impeccable. A fantastic dinner!

All portions are huge in most restaurants in BA. Unless, you have a very big appetite, you may want to share your share a meals

La Chacra: Avenida Cordoba 941, Microcentro
We accidentally happened upon La Chacra Restaurant while we were downtown. It looked really ancient. A huge stuffed bull in the entry, an asado (barbecue) in the front window, big game animal heads on the wall, “grumpy old man” waiters, and white tablecloth service... you get the picture.

We ordered one serving of grilled eggplant and an order of the chivito cazuela (kid with a vegetable & tomato sauce.) Once again, we were glad we only ordered one main dish. You could seriously do your self-damage if; you tried to eat one entree by yourself.
The meat was tasty & so tender that it fell of the bones. The sauce was yummy. I wished that I could have bottled it for future use. Service was adequate.

Forbes magazine put La Chara on its list of the top 10 steakhouses in the world. We didn't know this in advance. I looked La Chara up on the Internet after returned to our apartment.

La Cabrera: Cabrera 5099 Palermo
We decided to walk this restaurant and managed to get lost. We were half an hour late for our reservation at La Cabrera. There was a huge line-up to get in when we arrived. The hostess was not happy with us. We were lucky that she honoured our reservation.

Our friends ordered a Caesar salad as a starter. It was loaded with croutons, chicken, crispy ham, and Parmesan We all shared it. It could have easily fed the four of us as a complete dinner! My DH & I shared a tenderloin of beef that was stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and cheese. It came to the table on a wooden platter & looked like a football! It was perfectly cooked and very flavourful. I could not figure out how they managed cook this huge stuffed steak, medium rare? But, I did figure out that Argentine beef is far more flavourful than our beef at home! Our friends had thyme-marinated tenderloin as their main course. The main courses came with at least a dozen little dishes of sauces, condiments, and relishes. I found these dishes not to be very tasty. Many of them, I could not even figure out what they were supposed to be! We washed down all this food with a couple of bottles of Malbec. The place was packed and noisy. The service was very slow. We had better meals at this price range, later in our trip at La Payuca, La Chara, and at Don Julio.

Evita Restaurant: J.M. Gutierrez 3926, Palermo Botanico
After visiting Evita Museum, we had lunch on the patio of the adjoining restaurant. I ordered a grilled vegetable salad with grilled butternut squash, carrots, and eggplants on a bed of baby spinach with a balsamic & oil dressing. My DH had stuffed
chicken & grilled squash. Bebidas (beverages) and dessert or coffee was included. I had wine and my DH had beer. There were so many delicious items on the menu that we would like to try. Service was good and the setting charming. We made a pledge to go back.

The second time we went to the restaurant at Evita Museum, we had another lovely alfresco lunch, whiling away the afternoon hours. We each had crepes Mediterranean stuffed with grilled eggplant, mushroom, black olives & melted cheese topped with a rocket salad, & chevre. A couple of glasses of Malbec made everything run smoothly. I had chocolate helado for dessert and my DH had coffee.

Another museum with a restaurant for a relaxing alfresco lunch in the garden is the Museum of Decorative Arts at Av.del Libertador 1902, Palermo.
Our lovely and charming waitress served us chicken pate on crisp baguettes slices that really hit the mark. Our bottles of beer were brought to the table in cute little ice buckets, which ensured perfectly chilled beverages. The grilled chicken Caesar salad contained an amazing amount of chicken. The service provided by the waitress was attentive and low key.

La Payuca: Arenales 3443, Palermo Botanico.
We went to the lovely upscale parrilla called la Payuca for dinner. I had heard that cordero (lamb) was their specialty. But, when we got there, the menu stated it was only served on the weekends. We ordered provoleta with sun-dried tomatoes as a starter. This dish is a large piece of provolone cheese that is grilled on the asado and served with fresh baked buns.
For our main course, we had beef & chicken brochettes and a large side of batatas frites (deep fried sweet potatoes.) The brochettes were accompanied with several small dishes that included a spicy chopping board salsa, chimichurri, a pureed tomato sauce, and a parsley garlic sauce. Of course, we had the pre-requisite bottle of Malbec. This all cost about $150A or $50C. The meal was a little more
expensive than most restaurants that we had been eating at. But, the ambiance, the food, and the service were worth the price.

Rodi Bar: Vicente Lopez 1900, Recoleta
After a visit to the Recoleta Cemetery, we walked Rodi Bar on a suggestion from a local friend. We had a very simple, down-home lunch. I had lomo de befe,(steak) squash, & green salad. My DH had tira de befe (beef ribs) with a mixed salad & papas fritas (French fries.) We also, quaffed a couple small beers. (Be sure to get a price on anything that is not on the menu. (My DH figured out later that we were charged at least double for small beer in any other restaurant we imbibed at in BA.)

Cupertina Cabrera 5296, y Godoy Cruz, Palermo Soho
After a long walk, seeing the sites of Palermo Soho, we stopped for lunch at a rustically furnished restaurant called Cupertina. It was a cosy room with hand-hewn chairs & tables. We had beef empanadas seasoned with green onions, cumin, & paprika. There were more seasonings than the usual Argentine fare. We also, had carrot and cheese empanadas. All were fantastico! We will definitely go again to try more of their specialities.

Casa Coupage: Guemes 4382, Palermo
Casa Coupage is known as a "closed door" restaurant that features wine tasting and food pairing. We had hoped that we would get insights on which wine to buy while in BA. Reservations were required. There was no sign on the door. We had to ring the bell to be admitted. It was situated in their beautiful Belle Epoque home with a grand marble stairway, soaring ceilings and original architecture details. There were five tables with seating for six at each. Three wines were presented in a "blind tasting." Each table had a light bar down the centre for "viewing' the wine. Both Santiago and Ines were informative, gracious, & experienced hosts. Both Spanish & English was spoken.
The tables were set up with a light bar down the centre of each table to appreciate the colour of the each wine. (You get the same effect by holding your glass of wine toward any white background.) My DH & both agreed that Bodega Familia Vina el Cerno Cabernet Sauvigon was the only one wine was worth drinking. We were much happier with the wine store our tasting at a wine store that will appear later in this post. But, the biggest disappointment of the evening was the food.
We had read on the Internet that their chef had been "poached" by the American embassy.
The loss was significant!
The squid was over cooked, therefore tough & rubbery. The rice it was served with was undercooked & hard.
The beef with red peppers and mashed potatoes was a bit of a mystery as neither my DH nor I (or anyone else at our table for that matter) found any beef in the dish! The lamb lasagna was cold and the top layer of pasta was so tough that it was difficult to cut with a knife.
You may think that I am being overly picky. But, as this was our most expensive meal in BA, I feel I have a right to be so. I wish we could have visited before they lost their original chef!

Reencuentro: Cabrera 4801 | Palermo
For dinner one evening, we decided to trya tenedor libre (all you can eat) restaurant.
Reencuentro is in the Palermo Soho area of BA. For $44A ($12.50C) each,
you are given a menu and told that you can order anything you want. As our waiter
felt that we did not order enough, he started bringing us extra plates of goodies.
Their chorizo sausage was the best that we have ever tasted. Smoky from cooking
on the asado, lean, & perfectly spiced. The provoleta (cheese grilled on the asado)
was a disappointment as it was dry & hard instead of smooth & creamy.
My DH’s tortellini in puttanesca sauce was full bodied & flavorful with fresh basil
adding a special brightness. My potato noquis (gnocchi) was a bit stodgy but, wilted spinach & portabella mushrooms freshened this dish.
The costillas de cerdo (baby back ribs) were the most favourable & tender ribs that I have ever tasted. They were served with out any sauce, straight up from the asado letting all their natural flavours shine.
The vegetable brochettes were a perfect foil for the tender richness of the ribs.
We also, had beef brochettes. But, they paled, beside the pork ribs. Our waiter also, brought us a large bowl of papas frites (crisp shoestring French fries), a perfectly cooked New York strip steak, a potato tortilla (similar to a omelette). A second plate of ribs arrived with a side of pork steak! Enough, we pleaded. Our waiter was surprised that we declined salads & dessert! We enjoyed a La Linda Malbec with dinner. We both felt the service was very good considering the waiter did not speak any English & I am limited to only a little Spanish. (As a foodie, I learned food related Spanish before leaving home & practiced by reading menus on the Internet.)

Cumana, La Cholita, and El Sanjuanino were simple, rustic restaurants in the Recoleta area. They served up some of our favourite
meals at very reasonable prices. All three places have a rustic charm and Spanish speaking staff.

Cumana. Rodriguez Pena 1149, Recoleta
On our first visit, we enjoyed their lomo picante (lightly spiced beef tenderloin) empanadas. But, for me the star was their squash, corn & cheese empanadas. I loved the slightly charred flavor on the tender pastry of all their empanadas. The second visit, we had a pizza that was so big that we took nearly half of it back to our apartment. We reheated it and had it with a salad for our lunch the next day. Quite a bargain! The third time we went to Cumana, I had noquis con crema de tomate y albahaca, gnocchi in a creamy tomato sauce & basil with a melted cheese topping. It was so delicious that I could have bathed in it. My DH had the double baked stuffed potato stuffed with cheese & bacon. It was the size of a football & he ate all of it plus some of my noquis! We shared a bottle of Malbec, as well.

La Cholita is the restaurant next door to Cumana. For dinner, there, we had the La Cholita chicken salad that was a meal in its self! We also, had their barbecued baby back ribs die for! A bottle of La Linda Malbec completed this feast. The food is as good as their sister restaurant, Cumana. I wish we had both these restaurants at home!

El Sanjuanino: Posadas 1515 | Recoleta
We sampled their carne picante empanadas, creamed corn empanadas, and their carne tamale. All were three were delicious.
But, I must say that I missed not having spicy red and green sauces with the tamales.

Impetu Bistro: Uriarte 1504
We read the sandwich board menu outside a bistro called Impetu and decided to give it a try.We ordered the plate du jour. Pork medallions with a country berry salsa (blueberry, blackberry, & currants), My DH’s portion
was served with the best, brownest, fattest frites that we had in BA. Mine was served with a large, fresh vegetable salad. We had a small bottle of red wine, two bottles of water,a very decadent triamisu that was slathered in warm dark chocolate, and my DH had coffee. All this for the minor sum of $81A. ($23.00C)
We walked back to our apartment & hoped to burn off some of the calories that we gleefully ingested!

The second time that we went to Impetu I had a very tasty & creative salad with mixed greens, bean sprouts, corn, & deep-fried squid & clams and many other goodies that escape my memory. My DH had pasta with a vegetable & tomato sauce. One bottle of Malbec completed our lunch.

Both times, we were the only tourists in this popular restaurant. We had excellent service in spite our lack of fluent Spanish.

Don Julio: Guatemala 4691 and Gurruchaga | Palermo Soho
Our last day in BA was Valentine’s Day. We had dinner at Don Julio's wonderful restaurant. It is a famous parrilla know for its great steaks and delicious pastas. The atmosphere had lots of old world charm, the service was impeccable, the steak (bife de chorizo) was thick, very juicy, nicely charred, and flavorful. The squash-filled sorrentinos were tender.The sun dried tomato, mushroom & deglace sauce went perfectly with both the pasta and the steak. A large mixed green salad completed the meal along with fresh baked crispy buns. We had a Monte Cinca Reserva 2004 Malbec. This was our favourite Malbec. (Recommended by Santiago of Casa Coupe.) It highlighted the meal, perfectly. It was a delightful Valentine's Day Dinner!

After dinner, we walked Filippo’s, my favorite ice cream shop in BA. We shared a dish of fresh raspberry gelato and a chocolate amargo helado.
Our experience with Cafe Tortoni and the restaurants we frequented in BA were polar opposites.

We went to meet a Porteña friend at the entrance of Café Tortoni. Our friend wanted us to see Cafe Tortoni, one of the oldest coffee shops in BA. It opened in 1854. It was based on similar ones in Paris at that time. It was the place where intellectuals, artists, & politicians gathered. The Parisian architecture is quite stunning. But, sadly, that is where the charm ended for us. We experienced another down pour that BA is known for. My feet were totally soaked as I was wearing sandals. We met our Porteña friend under the large awning at the front door. A skinny little wannabe bouncer ordered us to stand in the exact spot he had decided we should be, (The previous time we had lined up at the door of this restaurant, a tour bus full of tourists took precedent over everyone that had been standing in line for hours. So, we left.) This time, we eventually gained access to the restaurant.

Everything is original in the restaurant. The massive wood bar, the floor to ceiling marble columns, the wrought iron and marble tables, the light fixtures, etc. It looks like a set for a movie. It took forever for a waiter to acknowledge that we were seated and to bring us a menu for bebidas (beverages.) It took many times longer for him to come back and take our order. When, our beverage orders arrived they were barely lukewarm.

We had a very long informative political discussion with our Porteña friend. She was a very generous & intelligent lady and we were very pleased to make her acquaintance. It took forever to get the bill from the waiter.
We went outside and stood under the awning to keep out of the torrential downpour while my DH tried to flag down a taxi. The wannabe bouncer told us we could NOT stand under the awning as it was only for patrons going into the café. Once you leave the restaurant they basically kick you to the curb!

Lo de Joaquin Albertdi: Jorge Luis Borges 1772, Palermo Soho
This was the wine shop that braved the torrential rain to go to.
My DH bought a Sottano Malbec: $50A or $14C. Also, he bought me a Ruttini Malbec Encabe that is a
late harvest wine that tastes very similar to a Masi Amorne or possibly, a port. The store clerk said that is not a fortified wine. It is 18% alcohol. This wine is a real beauty. it is very expensive by Argentine standards.$139A or $39C.

Reale Producto Gourmet on Puyerredon was a deli that was suggested to us by an expat living in BA. We bought the best bread we tasted in BA at this shop. Artisan baguettes from L'Epi bakery, reputed to be the best bakery in BA. We enjoyed their wonderfully, chewy bread. Also, some Dona Paula Malbec that was one of our favourite Argentine Malbecs. In the same block is the ubiquitous deli chain called Al Queso, Queso. This chain seemed to be in every neighbourhood. We bought local cheese, deli meat & bread at the one in our neighbourhood of Palermo Botanico,
The bread wasn’t as good as L’Epi but, was better than what we bought at the supermarkets Disco & Carefour.

It is not difficult to eat and drink very well in BA. I used guidebooks, the Internet, and my intuition to choose the restaurants that we ate at. We walked for hours ever day. This insured that we didn’t gain weight and gave us a healthy appetite.

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