Here are some suggestions for great restaurant experiences in Buenos Aires. Based on several trips these are tried and tested favourites:
El Estabilo (Avenue Paraguay 489, in Retiro) Argentina is all about the beef and there are hundreds of parrilladas (grill /steakhouses). My best experiences have been at this well-known classic that has a fair mix of locals and tourists. It has always been good. Recommended: the ½ lomo (fillet). This half portion is itself larger than you’d get in any South African or European restaurant. The French fries are good as is the salad. It’s also open from 7am to 2am, which makes it very convenient.
Gran Bar Danzon (Avenue Libertad 1161, in Retiro) Chef martin Arrieta’s funky, smart, upmarket modern restaurant reminds me a bit of Cape Town’s Haiku. It serves an eclectic menu from classic dishes to sushi. It’s worth trying their innovative and unique take on South American food, such as their Peruvian seafood ceviche that is accompanied by a delicious citrus sorbet. The salad starter is enormous. The ribs are a treat – quite unlike ribs in SA, the meat here is substantial and slides off the bone. Arrive early and try to book ahead, as it fills up. Like Haiku, best to dine early, before the noise levels rocket (after 9pm). Retire to the comfy bar lounge afterwards.
Casa Cruz (Uriarte 1658, in Palermo) This unabashedly upmarket restaurant is something to behold. The decor is out to impress, as is the menu of modern Argentine cuisine. I’ve had good experiences (though some people have complained). It is expensive. The background music is the most eclectic I’ve heard moving form chanson to the Beetles.
Try their martinis and be adventurous with the menu. The glass wine cellar houses a fantastic range of wines.
La Brigada (Estados-Unidos 465, San Telmo) Looking for lunch after browsing the many antique shops? Then this parrilla is the best in the area. The meat is cut with a spoon (though this is a bit of a gimmick. The spoon is pretty sharp and the lomo is not as tender as El Estabilo above). Football paraphernalia decorate the place. It has a comfortable, relaxed vibe.
(Have a drink at the famous Bar Borega en route on Plazza Borega))
Chimm and Churry (Gurruchaga 1824, Palermo Soho) Great place for lunch when exploring this trendy neighbourhood.
Looking for a good Tango show in an atmospheric old bar /restaurant that isn’t too touristy, and confused by the myriad of choices? Then head to 36 Billiares (Avenue de Mayo 1265). The food, music, vibe and demonstration dances are all highly enjoyable.
Cheerful and easy:
Filo (San Martin 975, Retiro). When you’re all dined out and are looking for something simple, then stop for a pizza at this great take on the American diner.
(Have a drink at the quirky Dada Bar (San Martin 941) en route)