Buenos Aires is a box of treasures with culinary souvenirs from its storied past; French pastries updated with anarchist titles, succulent empanadas from the Iberian Peninsula and Italian dishes since grown distant from their origins. Today, the city of “good airs” is an epicenter of meat, nocturnal dining and European flair. Bite into the best of Buenos Aires at these restaurants.
Best cheap eats
La Conga is the place to go for affordable mountains of seafood, rice, chicken or just about anything. Though it calls itself a polleria (chicken restaurant), there are actually so many things this Peruvian spot does well – mainly portions. La Conga is a bit off the beaten path in the Once neighborhood, but it’s worth joining the largely Peruvian clientele for a feast here.
From burgers to cocktails, burritos to michelada, Cervecería Chapultepec guarantees one thing – rock bottom prices. The Mexican chain has two branches in Palermo. Both are kaleidoscopic, string-lit buildings that welcome hipsters, peso-pinchers and everyone in-between until the early hours.
Chori is perpetually popular. You’ll instantly recognize the fluorescent yellow walls, sprightly décor and crowds outside. Visit this street food joint to get your fill of choripán, Argentina’s beloved sausage sandwich that’s drizzled with herb-infused chimichurri sauce. Wash your meal down with equally Argentine staple Fernet Branca, or a customized gin and tonic.
The NOLA gastropub is the best of both worlds. The food is Cajun and the craft beer is from local breweries. This Louisiana kitchen is unassuming and friendly, and there’s a budget-friendly special each day. The menu includes some unexpected fusion offerings like fried chicken with kimchi. Don’t forget to drizzle the homemade honey mustard and cilantro jalapeño sauces lavishly.
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Best high-end dining
Don Julio is Buenos Aires’ most famous upscale steakhouse. Cuts from the top grass-fed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford steers that were raised in the nearby humid pampas (grassland) are on the menu. A maturation process of at least 21 days in their own cold storage guarantees the tenderness and flavor the steakhouse is known for. Expect a wine selection extensive enough to please any oenophile.
A publishing house, book store, flower shop, garden, bar and restaurant, it’s easy to understand why some accuse Casa Cavia of having an identity crisis. Located in the elegantly restored Belle Époque mansion, Casa Cavia carefully merges the curated talents from the worlds of architecture, art, literature and gastronomy joining forces to celebrate the excellence of Argentina. The avocado pumpkin fresh herb salad is as pretty as it is palatable. The menu card itself is something to behold with stories and vivid illustrations accompanying each dish. Come here to see and be seen by the cheto (posh) crowd in a well-heeled enclave of Palermo.
Nuestro Secreto (our secret) draws in elegant diners, particularly during their Sunday brunch. The secret is that it’s set in a hidden garden at the Four Seasons Hotel in Retiro. On any day of the week, this elaborate glasshouse is a stylish setting to enjoy all of Argentina on a plate. The bife de chorizo steak served with a halloumi side is one of the supermodels of the menu.
Uco is a classy farm-to-fork restaurant within Palermo Hollywood’s renowned Fierro Hotel. Everything is prepared in-house every day, even their own ice cream. Opt for the shoulder of lamb which is somewhat of a rarity on the porteño dinner menu. Crown your meal with a Torrontés-infused peach dessert or a bleeding volcano of warm chocolate. For the wine lovers, Cava Uco next door is their boutique vinoteca and tasting room.
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Top vegan and vegetarian
La Esquina de las Flores
La Esquina de las Flores is an organic wonderland consisting of a pantry, bakery, flour mill, and restaurant. There are even free vegan cooking classes. All their produce is GMO-free and the delightful floral mural on the building’s façade will lure you in. Come for vegan tortillas, vegetarian milanesa and Paraguayan chipas.
Bio is Argentina’s first certified organic restaurant. Their green ethos even extends to the color of the building and interior décor. Many restaurants in Buenos Aires close for siesta (between 3- 8pm) but Bio, thankfully, is open all day. Cooking classes are also offered to help curious diners recreate their signature dishes like the arrozzetta – a rice pizza with olives, onions and vegan cheese.
Hierbabuena is a restaurant and natural deli on the renowned gastronomic block of Avenida Caseros, where the neighborhoods of San Telmo and Barracas meet. Vegetarians and conscious eaters will be pleased by their preservative-free homemade grain bread, homemade jams and marmalades, juice bar and, of course, their popular mushroom veggie burger. Don’t skip the kombucha ice tea either. Gluten-free and vegan options are available.
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Sacro takes experimentation to another level with creative plant-based dishes like black activated-charcoal empanadas, rose-hued beetroot hummus and matcha crème brûlée. The setting is dim-lit and chic with a menu inspired by international flavors: nasu dengaku from Japan, gluten-free ripe plantain and coconut rice mochi from the Caribbean and wild mushroom kimchi from Korea. Leave full and impressed at this upscale restaurant in Palermo.
Green Eat makes healthy fast food. With branches dotted all over the city, nothing stops you from getting your fill of their natural goodness. Green Eat sources seasonal products directly from suppliers who abstain from using preservatives and chemicals. For something different, sample the gluten-free Andean burger with quinoa and sauteed mushrooms.
Best Argentine steakhouses
La Brigada, featured in the Netflix documentary Todo Sobre el Asado, catapulted its owner Hugo Echevarrieta, to local celebrity status. Ever happy to pose for photos with guests, Echevarrieta’s regular presence on site keeps service impeccable. The rumors are true – the meat at the San Telmo spot is so tender it can be cut with a spoon, as servers happily demonstrate. Order the costilla de lomo (pork loin) for that melt-in-the-mouth experience.
Siga la Vaca
Siga la Vaca is one of the few all-you-can-eat steakhouses in the city. This is handy if you don’t know which cuts to order and prefer to let your eyes do the choosing. There are three branches but only the Puerto Madero outpost has the all-you-can-eat option.
Don Carlos is a restaurant with no menu and sits across from La Bombonera stadium in La Boca. It’s been open for nearly half a century during which time it has welcomed the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Francis Ford Coppola who earmarked it as his favorite parilla (grill) in the city. It’s a family-run bodegón (Argentine cantina) where the owner Carlitos sizes you up and prepares what he sees fit. His wife Marta cooks the food while daughter Gaby dreams up the desserts.
On a bustling corner in the leafy, restaurant-laden Palermo neighborhood is where you’ll find Campobravo. The popular spot serves high-end prime cuts and all their dishes are gluten-free. Since Argentine parillas serve every part of the cow, feel free to enjoy a starter of achuras (offal) like chinchulines (small intestines) or morcilla (blood sausage).
Best 24-hour eateries
Fom faithful favorites like muzarella and fugazetta (a thick, spongy onion and cheese dream), to house specialties like la gringa, a deep-dish pizza of caramelized onion, barbecue sausage and mustard drizzle, Kentucky Pizzería always hits the spot. With more than 25 branches around the city, this is where party crowds head when the night is done.
Lo de Charly
Lo de Charly will be your faithful friend when the ravages of hunger strike at odd hours. This parilla in Villa Ortúzar is simply always open. In fact, the grill hasn’t been turned off since 1991. What’s not to love about a local’s hangout where one may enjoy thick and juicy cuts at easy-on-the-wallet prices even at the most unholy of hours?
Babieca occupies an illuminated corner of Avenida Santa Fe, perilously close to Buenos Aires’ most elaborate bookstore – El Ateneo Grand Splendid. At this pizza and pasta restaurant, waiters in crisp white starched shirts serve up hearty, comfort fare from dusk till dawn. Food may not be Michelin standard, but it’s a reliable favorite in Barrio Norte.
La Niña de Oro
La Niña de Oro is loved by families, famished revelers and everyone in-between. This corner side restaurant (on Avenida Santa Fe) stays open every minute of every day, 365 days a year. Throw the diet out the window and dig into a four-cheese milanesa, muzarella pizza or just about anything dripping with queso (cheese).
Best meals with a view
Sky Bar stands tall on the 13th floor of Hotel Pulitzer in Microcentro. During the warmer months, it’s a popular after-work spot where you can sip on mixology masterpieces and nibble light plates like alioli sauce papas bravas and mini burgers amid a sleek live music backdrop.
Salón 1923 at Palacio Barolo offers divine views of Buenos Aires from the 16th floor as well as a sumptuous menu – try the burrata which is served on a bed of arugula and sun blushed tomatoes. Palacio Barolo is one of the most fabulous historic buildings in the city. It was designed by Mario Palanti who stuffed it with numerous overt references to Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy.
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Bar Napoles has an indoor view; it’s actually a quirky antique shop and Italian restaurant. Expect a retro vibe and perplexing mishmash of classic cars, religious paraphernalia and fresh pasta made daily. You won’t go wrong with a sorrentino beef ravioli.
Bar Dorrego is on the corner of Humberto Primero and Defensa in Plaza Dorrego, and it’s thus, a prime spot for people-watching during the Fería de San Telmo on Sundays as you enjoy a milanesa or hot sandwich. Nabbing one of the few outdoor seats here is like winning the lottery. On the inside, mosaic checkerboard tiles and photos of historic greats on the wall are romantic odes to the Buenos Aires of yesterday.
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