Each month we ask a Porteño (Buenos Aires Native) the same 15 questions with the goal of getting a unique perspective on Buenos Aires that visitors and expats alike can learn from. In this month’s edition we meet up with Matías Serrano, an Internet Publisher.
Matías Serrano: Age 35. Originally from Quilmes, Lives in Palermo. Works in Internet Publishing.
1. Describe a perfect day in Buenos Aires for you?
Sunny Sunday, or sometime during summer vacations, when there are fewer cars on the street, and you can actually enjoy a less stressed-out city. BA is awesome without cars and busses!
2. Where would you bring someone who is visiting Buenos Aires for the first time?
It could depend on the person, what they like and what they’re looking for. But in general, I’d just take ‘em to wherever I’d enjoy going at the moment. So if I’m big on going to eat outside, and want to have, say, a great bife de chorizo, I’d probably go to dinner at Happening (Av. Rafael Obligado 7030 between La Pampa y R. Obligado in Costanera Norte). This place used to be a “carrito” (in fact all of those fancy restaurants at Costanera Norte used to be carritos, that’s why the saying is “Vamos a comer a los carritos” when you’re going to these venues). And for going out at night, anywhere around Palermo would do. But again, it depends who I’m entertaining.
3. Do you have any preferences on where to go shopping or any secrets?
For cheap, fairly good stuff, probably the outlet zone in Palermo/Villa Crespo. For even cheaper stuff, not that good quality: Barrio de Once. If super low prices is not a must, any local mall would be a good option for someone earning any other currency but pesos.
4. What is your favorite restaurant and why?
As I said earlier: Happening in Costanera Norte. The quality of the food is top notch, great service, great view of the river, great terrace… Although nowadays it has become quite pricy.
For a lower budget: Juana M. (Carlos Pellegrini 1535 ). It has a cool ambiance, more informal. They haven’t done any publicity, just word of mouth. And it’s pretty hidden visually, although locals have managed to make it a success.
5. What is your favorite Parrilla and why?
Happening in Costanera Norte is a parrilla. Other than that, again on the lower budget spectrum I’d choose the “Cumaná” branch of restaurants (Las Cholas, Las Cabras, Las Cabritas, la Cholita y El Ñandú). Great food in quality and quantity for low prices (approved by local demand).
6. What place has the best empanadas and why?
Best empanadas I’ve ever eaten were from a restaurant which is now closed: Hoyo 19, it was located at 1000 Callao st., same quality of empanadas: El Mangrullo, a place in Quilmes (Gran Buenos Aires). Sadly, closed as well. I haven’t found any quality of empanadas even close to those. But as a rule of thumb, good pizzerias will usually have good empanadas. One that comes to mind is Cümen Cümen, in Palermo, good quality and variety, but I repeat: nothing comes even close to the prior. (I’ll let you know if I ever find something similar… we should contact those guys and make a fortune selling empanadas).
7. What is your favorite Pizzeria?
My favorite is a bit outside of Buenos Aires City: Pizzería Los Maestros (Mitre 609), in Quilmes. In Buenos Aires City, for pizza “al molde” I’d choose Las Cuartetas (Corrientes 838) and Guerrín (Corrientes 1368). For pizza a la piedra I’d probably go with Pascana (Paraguay 5100).
8. Besides meat and empanadas, what is an Argentine food that everyone has to try?
Charque (which is dry meat, but something no one tries when they come to Argentina); locro, puchero, Mbaypú. Old argentine meals, very caloric, people would eat in the campos after a long day of work. For the sweet tooth: arroz con leche (with cinnamon), and Dulce de leche Chimbote.
9. What is your favorite bar/club?
Right now I’d say Rosebar. But it depends what are your tastes and goals for the night.
10. What do you love about Buenos Aires?
The amount of options you have at any time of the day.
11. What do you hate about Buenos Aires?
Traffic and anything derived from government, ie: poverty.
12. If a tourist wants to spend time in Buenos Aires like a local, what should they do, where should they go?
Get a job, live off a peso based salary… They’d probably flee the country in no time, lol.
13. What is an authentic cultural experience in Buenos Aires where there are no tourists?
I’d go to a library, say Biblioteca Sarmiento, inside the Palacio Pizzurno (Pizzurno 935), and just spend some time there, pick a book and read. You’ll be next to local students pushing to get ahead intellectually, and it’s a great place to meet interesting, curious, people when you take a break.
14. What is your favorite Neighborhood? Why?
If you are young: Palermo
If you are in your second youth: Recoleta
15. What is your favorite destination in Argentina outside of Buenos Aires to travel to? Why?
In winter, the snowed mountains: Bariloche (also, or more, beautiful in fall and summer), San Martin de los Andes…
In summer, the beach: Mar de las Pampas, Cariló, Pinamar, Mar del Plata…
(But this is from someone who loves skiing –although it’s very pricy for locals nowadays- and bodyboarding).