Contemporary variations on grilled meat, gourmet tasting menus and open kitchens are at the height of fashion in Buenos Aires. These restaurants are generally a bit pricier, but the experience is well worth forking out for. Moreover, in a bid to attract more customers, many offer discounted lunch menus; keep an eye on their websites for special offers.
Dadá Bistro (San Martín 941, Microcentro). Dadá is one of those great places you stumble upon when looking for something else, then end up returning to again and again. The menu is short but tempting, with excellent variations on bife de lomo and ojo de bife. Decked out in funky poster art and featuring a small sit-down bar, it’s a great place to converse with talented barmen while sampling bistro-style cuisine and new cocktail creations. Arrive early to find a seat, as it’s always busy – which isn’t a bad thing.
Aldo’s Vinoteca y Restorán (facebook.com/AldosVinoteca, Moreno 372, Monserrat). Wine is the star here, and all 600 bottles were painstakingly chosen by renowned sommelier Aldo Graziani. The menu offers gourmet takes on Argentine classics: steak, milanesa and homemade pasta. The starters are particularly impressive, from the lamb tartare and the oysters to the charcuterie and the goat cheese with figs. Downstairs, an intimate jazz-and-blues bar showcases local and international acts. Check the website for events.
El Baqueano (facebook.com/elbaqueanorestaurante, Chile 495, San Telmo). Think meat but not your standard Argentine beef. Instead, you’ll find rarities here such as alligator, chinchilla, llama and rhea (an ostrich-like flightless bird). The setting is laid-back, and you can sit at the bar or at one of a half-dozen tables. On offer are à la carte sharing dishes and a superb seven-course tasting menu. Come prepared to partake in a gourmet safari!
I Central Market (icentralmarket.com.ar, Boulevard Macacha Güemes, Puerto Madero). You’d be forgiven for being confused when entering this spot overlooking Dock 3 of Puerto Madero. It’s a fusion of restaurant and cafe, deli and bakery, cheese store, wine bar and florist. Whether for an organic breakfast or a cheeky afternoon cake, a three-course dinner, takeout smoothie or homemade soup, you’ll find what you’re looking for at I Central Market. Grab a seat outside and enjoy views of the Puente de la Mujer (Women’s Bridge), an icon of Puerto Madero.
El Mercado (Martha Salotti 445, Puerto Madero). Designed by Philip Starck and fit for a palace, this restaurant at the Faena Hotel offers stylish Argentine cuisine. Glimpse inside the open kitchen while you await an exquisite rib-eye or tenderloin steak. Alternatively, sit in the courtyard around the open fire.
Crizia Restaurant Grill Bar (crizia.com.ar, Gorriti 5143, Palermo Soho). The high ceilings and contemporary décor give this Soho spot a New York vibe, while the mood lighting is perfect for a romantic date. The menu flirts with traditional Argentine cuisine fused with Asian, Mediterranean and Peruvian flavors. The oyster bar is revered as the best in the city. After dinner, sit back and sip a cognac, grappa or single malt and admire the local art or listen to the smooth sounds of the resident DJ.
Paraje Arévalo (parajearevalo.com, Arévalo 1502, Palermo Hollywood). This small bistro-restaurant on a picturesque Hollywood corner turns out mouthwatering prix-fixe menus featuring variations on your favorite, or often overlooked, Argentine ingredients. The menu changes monthly but you can expect delights such as kadaif de mollejas (sweetbread wrapped in noodles) and sirloin steak cooked in pepper and coriander. The menu often includes fish and seafood, making it great for a break from meat and more meat.
Las Pizarras Bistro (laspizarrasbistro.com, Thames 2296, Palermo Soho). Billed as “market cuisine,” the delicately presented dishes at Las Pizarras are made with fresh and simple ingredients. Check out the blackboards for the regularly changing and eclectic menus, which skew toward French-Argentine cuisine. The chef prides himself on using whatever he’s found at the market that day. There’s an equally eclectic wine list to keep discerning palates satisfied.
Tegui (tegui.com.ar, Costa Rica 5852, Palermo Hollywood): Tegui is a pioneer of B.A.’s closed-door restaurant scene (although now it’s open to all), and behind its unassuming entrance is a culinary journey like no other in the city. There’s an ever-changing menu, but you can expect to be tucking into a seven-course feast of the highest gourmet order. The wine pairings are innovative and painstakingly selected, and there’s an open kitchen that allows diners to peer inside and watch the chefs at work.
Sucre Restaurant Bar Grill (sucrerestaurant.com.ar, Sucre 676, Belgrano). Local chef Fernando Trocca opened this restaurant in 2002 with the vision of combining his love for native cuisine with Japanese, Italian, Peruvian and Spanish influences. Trocca uses lesser-known cuts of meat in a bid to offer affordable dishes, and he prides himself on using fresh, seasonal products. The Patagonian lamb and osso buco risotto are certainly worth trying. Check out the bodega, which stores around 5,000 bottles of wine from some 400 labels.
Astor (astorbistro.com, Ciudad de la Paz 353, Colegiales). A small, modest location with a wide-open kitchen lures diners at Astor. The menu features light and simple bistro-style cuisine made with seasonal ingredients. The more demanding palate may crave more flavor/spice, but what’s on offer is worth trying. The tasty breads come served in a brown paper bag as if just bought from a bakery.
Aramburu (arambururesto.com.ar, Salta 1050, Constitución). This is a restaurant you certainly wouldn’t expect to stumble upon walking the streets of Constitución, and unless you have the address you definitely won’t find it. Tucked away behind an unassuming graffiti covered door, Aramburu presents a romantic eight table restaurant where diners are spoilt with a 10-course tasting menu accompanied by generous wine pairings. Make a reservation and arrive and depart by taxi.