Destination: Argentina: Buenos Aires
De Olivas i Lustres Restaurante
The antique-filled dining room is quirky—each table has its own décor scheme—and the Mediterranean-Argentinean cuisine is delicious at De Olivas i Lustres, a restaurant that helped transform Palermo into a foodie destination.
Freud & Fahler
When locals aren’t playing tour guide for out-of-town friends, they’re enjoying this Mediterranean-style restaurant in a renovated Palermo Viejo warehouse. Although the more mainstream fish, chicken and pasta dishes are delightful, those looking for something new may want to try the raved-about shrimp smoked in a Japanese oven or the occasional game plates, such as Patagonian pheasant and quail.
One of the most memorable meals I ate in Buenos Aires was at Guido’s, a colorful cafe just across the street from the zoo and a few blocks from the lush Botanical Gardens. When I asked my taxi driver to drop me there, he looked surprised but nodded approvingly, saying I must really know Buenos Aires, because he’d never seen a foreigner dining there. It was my first trip to Argentina, but thankfully a foodie friend tipped me off. I would recommend Guido’s to anyone who wants to experience really local flavor – both in terms of the dishes served and the clientele – during their time in Argentina.
Guido’s serves authentic Italian food to a neighborhood crowd. The walls of the interior or covered with memorabilia from the “home country”, ranging from maps of Italy to old black-and-white photos of famous Italians, as well as the flags of local soccer clubs. I believe we had around four courses at lunch, including sliced meat and cheeses, grilled vegetables, multiple pastas and risotto, each dish more delicious than the previous. There is a set menu, and the gruff waiters speak no English, so it’s not a great choice for picky eaters or diners who prefer white-glove service. But for travelers who want to eat well and experience a truly local place that’s a world away from the hip eateries of nearby Palermo, it shouldn’t be missed. Come with an appetite and cash as credit cards are not accepted.
Il Ballo del Mattone
Come to this trendy restaurant in the Palermo to soak up the creative energy of the neighborhood. The Italian cuisine, which changes nightly with the menu scrawled on a blackboard, is mediocre but the lively young crowd of artists, designers and musicians offers a window into the hip community that populates Palermo. Giant photographs of many of the regular customers line the walls. The best tables are in the garden in the back.
Says an Indagare member of this steak house (also a favorite of film director Francis Ford Coppola):
“This is a delicious restaurant. The steaks were great, although the waiter looked very alarmed when I asked if there were any ‘vegetables’ and he had to say, No, although he did point out some vegetable fritters. Again the wait staff did not speak much English, but we got by with an Italian/English/Spanish combination and had a great dinner.”
This is the most modern and gourmet option of the trio of restaurants on the attractive plaza before the Recoleta cemetery. Though it’s been a Buenos Aires mainstay for years, it was recently redone and given a chic modern look with white walls, black chairs and portraits of well-known patrons. Chef Gonzalo Vidal trained at the Cordon Bleu and under Argentine super chef Francis Mallman as well as Michelin-star chef Jacques Chibois. Today, he’s considered one of the most promising chefs in the city with his mix of European influences and regard for Argentine traditions. His ceviches, tartars and grilled meats are particularly popular. On pretty weekend days, you best reserve one of the outdoor tables in advance or arrive close to noon.
This clean, bright restaurant in Palermo specializes in the freshest cooking from the market. The emphasis is on seasonal ingredients, and it’s a good spot for a quick shopping break.
The most old school of the Recoleta restaurants, Munich has no tables outside and is barely marked as a restaurant (just a brass plate and polished wood doors), which is the way the locals like it. Tourists tend to go to the restaurants on either side, while Porteno families gather here for Sunday brunch as they have for decades. The food is very traditional with a focus on great cuts of grilled meat and German-influenced sides like cabbage and potatoes. Reservations recommended.
This beloved bistro, well-known for its mixed drinks, serves great pastas, seafood and meat dishes. The name (pronounced pee-pee coo-coo) is Argentinean slang for chic/upscale; according to legend, the phrase was born after boxer Carlos Monzon returned from a trip to Paris and mispronounced merci beaucoup.
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