Buenos Aires (II of II): Food and Wine

A few weeks ago I wrote about sightseeing and shopping on our trip to Buenos Aires but intentionally set aside details about the food and wine we ate, reserving pictures and details for a post all their own.

Argentina is known for meat, malbec and dulce de leche, and I had plenty of each on our visit. Similar to the architecture, the food had a European touch, with bakeries dotting the streets and cafés with windows filled of empanadas (a small stuffed pasty, usually some type of meat or cheese and onion). Going out to eat is considered a bit of a treat, and locals eat late dinners that last hours into the night. It’s not unusual for dinner out to begin around 11 p.m. and “going out” after can last well into the early morning hours.

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Since Lauren and Marce live in Palermo Viejo, we spent most of our meals out in Hollywood or SoHo, which caters to more young professionals and ex-patriots from around the world. We were most interested in the “local” food, but every type of cuisine was available in the area. And on the note of what’s considered local, it seems that everyone in Argentina has an Italian family background, so Italian restaurants serve up authentic fare. Pizzerias can also be found on every street corner, though the dough was much thicker than what we have in the states (almost like deep dish) and it was some of the best pizza we had ever tasted. Parrilla (pronounced pa-ree-sha) is a type of barbeque that’s native to South America and consists of grilling meats, primarily beef or pork, and vegetables.

La Americana Empanadas

On the weekends Marce fixed us eggs and toast at the apartment for breakfast, paired with fresh croissants from around the corner and topped with dulce de leche. Our first meal in BA was lunch of empanadas and beer at La Americana, before heading back to their neighborhood for the evening. That night we ate a trendy new restaurant nearby called Local, a place Lauren and Marce had been anxious to try. The food was fabulously creative and showed off the modern culture of the area. Afterward we stopped in at a speakeasy, Frank’s, which proved this is a trend happening all over, and sipped on handcrafted cocktails that were worthy of the secret society merit.

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Dinner
Saturday we visited La Recoleta Market in Plaza Francia, and enjoyed a picnic lunch of Bondiola (cured pork and pork shoulder parrilla) from the street vendor in between shopping. We stopped in Bùffala for ice cream after, one of the many parlors around the city that tout a variety of creamy and rich flavors. Dinner was more on Argentine time, after a stop at a local beer hall, Antares. We went for authentic Italian at Il Matterello and were impressed by each dish. The wine that evening was my favorite malbec from the trip, Tomero. After dinner, we stopped by Isabel, a loud, classy bar with handcrafted cocktails and a swanky atmosphere.

Sunday we were off to another market, Feria de Mataderos, this time with a focus on meats. We had more empanadas and beer, homemade cookies (stuffed with dulce de leche!) and more bondiola. One of Johnny’s high school and college friends, Spencer, is living in Argentina and he and his girlfriend met up with us at the fair. Later, Johnny and I joined the two of them for dinner at Miranda, with more parrilla, this time served as an assortment appetizer (sweetbeads and other cuts). Johnny and I each had traditional meals – ribeye and Patagonia lamb, followed by more dulce de leche with dessert.

Lunch on Monday was following a stroll through the parks, and stopping in Recoleta at Primafila to sit on the patio. Lauren, Johnny and I sipped Portillo Sauvignon Blanc and shared a burrata salad, pizza and shrimp salad with mango and avocado. Dessert was dulce de leche lava cake with homemade raspberry ice cream and a cappuccino. Dinner that evening was the most “authentic” place we ate, with confirmation from Marce and Lauren. Peron Peron is themed, filled with political propaganda and devotion to the Peron party without being kitschy or overdone. (Peron is Evita and her husband’s last name, which has now transcended into a party or general political movement.) We started with a meat and cheese platter and cocktails, then Johnny and I split the bondiola, pork shoulder, which was falling apart with tenderness.

Croissant

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On our final day, Tuesday, we went into the city for tourist sightseeing (again, read details and see photos in the first post), first stopping at Asturias, the nearby bakery, for croissants and coffee. On this particular day, I decided to indulge even more and opt for the croissant stuffed with dulce de leche and chocolate chips (yes, you read correctly). After some sightseeing, we stopped in Café Tortoni, a destination itself, for coffee and a snack. This particular café was established in 1858 and has seen famous visitors from all over the world, but was originally known to protect the local arts and literature with the movers and shakers on the scene at the time. After our break, we were off for more sightseeing before stopping at the aforementioned pizza place, El Cuartito. With pizza and a beer, it was the perfect ending to our trip – simple and relaxed, delicious and inexpensive. And like I said, this was some of the best pizza we had eaten.

In all, the meals were excellent, paired with great wine and even better company, and we indulged on the treats from the area. By American standards, eating out is very affordable and your dollar goes a long way. Meals are important times to relax and enjoy the company you sit with, which we were happy to do!

Thank you, Lauren and Marce, for making our trip so wonderful!

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