Nobody can deny that Buenos Aires has mastered the art of ambience in its bars, restaurants, hotels — you name it. The porteños have an eye for design, decorating, and setting a mood, and on top of that, this metropolis is a mecca for ethnic food due to its trendy, international vibe and large immigrant population. The traditional Argentine food may be a bit repetitive for North Americans (if you don’t have an insatiable appetite for red meat, that is), but this city has imported some of the world’s best flavors and placed them in some very unique venues that are sure to guarantee matchless culinary experiences and, if you can eat and photograph at the same time, some great pictures.
Here are some of Foto Ruta’s favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires.
1. El Baqueano
Chile 495, San Telmo
The food is served in seven, eight or nine-course set-menus according to what is in season, and every plate that comes out leaves you a little bit confused about what you ate, but sure that whatever it was, it was delicious and completely unique. The ñandu dish, for example, was served with a smooth, glass bowl covering it to hold in the eucalyptis smoke that is trapped inside, giving it a smokey, crispy flavor. Each dish is beautiful and combines a completely unpredictable combination of flavors and layers.
Microcentro: Paraguay 624
Palermo: Uriarte 1648
Sipan has something for every developed taste-bud. If you want something light but flavorful, try the tiraditos, which are thin strips of raw fish (usually salmon, tuna or octopus) dripped with sauces with bases like Passion Fruit.
For those who want more sustinance, there is lomo saltado, sauteed, marinated meat mixed with rice, onions, peppers, and french fries (our favorite part), or Tacu Tacu, a bean and rice based dish usually served with meat or fish. The venues, particularly Palermo’s, are very well decorated. The Palermo location has an amazing patio out back that will make you feel like Incan royalty, especially after a few of their famous pisco-based cocktails.
Estado de Israel 4316, Almagro
This is one of the few Venezuelan restaurants in Buenos Aires, and while its menu is exotic, its laid back charm makes everyone feel at home here. The main staple on its menu is the arepa, of which there are many varieties. An arepa is a dish popular mostly in Colombia and Venezuela that is made of a corn meal-based bread fried into a pancake and served stuffed with meat, chicken, beans, veggies, egg or whatever your heart desires.
Paraguay 645, Microcentro
The Spanish influence is strong in Buenos Aires’ gastronomy, but upon stepping into Tancat, a bright red, almost cave-like space, you feel like you are walking into a little Catalan treature box — rows of tapas line the bar and the old-fashioned waiters maintain a sassy, Catalan charm from start to finish, leaving you with a sense that you are in good hands. The noisy conversation echoing off the low ceilings and between very cozy tables only adds to the charm of the place, and you won’t even mind sitting at the bar if you have to, because the set-up makes you feel like that’s what the cool kids do anyway.
5. U.G.A.B. Friday Dinners
Armenia 1322, Palermo
The name of this restaurant might seem cryptic, but it is only because this “restaurant” is actually an Armenian high school in Buenos Aires, and the staff — waiters, chefs, cashiers, dancers, are either students, parents, or grandparents working to raise money for a graduation trip to Armenia at the end of the year.