By Megan Chochla and Martha Mendes

buenos aires essentials

As we continue to scour the continent and look for the best in food and drink that South America’s leading cities have to offer, we’re updating our essentials lists with bars and restaurants that are not to be missed.  We’ve gone ahead and given Buenos Aires the 26 treatment, finding some of the city’s most classic hot spots, as well as some newcomers that both tourists and locals should be hitting up with frequency.  From Latin America’s top bar to pork-centric restaurant in San Telmo, these are the essentials for any trip to the Paris of the south.  Provecho!

Besides having a breathtaking, modern interior, chef Germán Martitegui also put all of his renowned originality into the cuisine, earning Tegui the number nine position and best restaurant in Argentina award at this year’s Latin America’s 50 Best awards.  Tegui offers a sophisticated, hand-crafted menu that changes weekly.  The surprising mix of flavors and textures, paired with the incredible wine cellar, clearly inspired by Casa Cruz where Martitegui made his name, make Tegui an unforgettable experience.

A hidden gem!  Get there before there are no seats left.  In Palermo Hollywood visit chef Antonio Soriano in his first solo endeavour.  Soriano wants you to feel comfortable and at home, the restaurant is warm and welcoming. Astor serves up an ever-changing lineup of 8 dishes, and you’re encouraged to try them all.  You can also choose 3 or 5 courses (but we highly discourage this).  Soriano’s focus is local produce combined with creativity.  His daily menu might not even be printed yet when Astor opens for the night.

Chila continues to innovate by offering a menu of courses that describes where each of the ingredients used originates, all of which are regional, to promote and encourage seasonality in each dish.  Meanwhile, although the food is authentically Argentine, chef Soledad Nardelli’s inspiration comes from France.  The mix of the two cuisines is surprising.  Adding to the excitement of the Chila experience is the restaurant’s location in beautiful Puerto Madero, offering up a beautiful view of the river.

Aramburu o Aramburu Bis
Both restaurants are projects from beloved chef Gonzalo Aramburu.  The first, for fine dining, brings the sophistication of a 12-course menu, and the second, a more relaxed space, if it’s possible to even call it that, offers a shorter, more accessible menu, allowing diners to choose their courses.  Both restaurants represent the best in modern, innovative gastronomy in Argentina applied to regional products.  Even the tableware is innovative, as they always use original dishes, far from the ordinary.

La Cabrera
Parrillas.  There’s a lot in Buenos Aires.  So what does La Cabrera do that sets them apart?  Beyond simply bringing together the best cuts of meat like Wagyu, Hereford and Aberdeen angus, the restaurant also accompanies the star of the show with a lot of little accompaniments.  Between sauces, purees, small salads and the meat, always cooked to perfection, you can revel in the local flavors.  Paired with impeccable service, designed to delight and surprise guests, tourists and native Porteños alike will have a great time.

The highlight here are the dry-aged meats, always exceptionally tender, as well as the Argentine Kobe beef.  The quality of the raw ingredients is apparent in the freshness of the seafood.  Elena’s menu offers traditional plates, but with an urban touch.  Inside, you’ll find an environment that’s equal to the restaurant’s home, The Four Seasons.  The service is great, and this new classic makes of for a great place to dine with family, or to have a relaxed lunch.

This is a Buenos Aires classic that, in the hands of its creator, Emilio Garip, a passionate wine lover, has remained current, even after being open for 25 years.  With a great menu offering fish and shellfish as the star of the show, Oviedo has managed to bring refinement to the best of traditional cuisine from the bodegones, which make up the Argentine identity.  Inside, you’ll find a classic setting, with dark woods, and a classic focus on plating.

Fukuro Noodle Bar
The brainchild of Matias and Vanessa Camozzi, Fukuro Noodle Bar has become the go-to source for ramen and pork buns in Buenos Aires.  Borne from the couple’s travels and a love for restaurants like Momofuku, Fukuro has a street spirit and an interior to match.  Their kitchen, on full view, is pure professionalism, where they spend up to 12 hours a day, making the ramen broths, noodles, dumpling dough, and pork buns entirely from scratch.

Floreria Atlântico
Tucked beneath a flower shop and record store, this speakeasy-style bar was recently voted, for the second year in a row, as the top bar in Latin America.  Led by one of the city’s top barmen, Rentato Giovanoni, as you enter the basement you might feel as though you’ve entered a sunken ship, with low lights and plenty of sea monsters painted on the walls.  The house gin is a creation of Giovanoni, made of the ubiquitous yerba mate, grapefruit and eucaliptus.  Hands down one of the city’s top night spots, they also serve some great bar food to accompany your drinks, just so you don’t go hungry.

Chef and owner Liza Puglia has been on the Buenos Aires food scene for a few years now, hosting a closed door restaurant and working towards the opening of NOLA, which finally opened in July.  The focus is southern US food with a twist.  The fried chicken is to die for.  The rack of homemade hot sauces should be approached with caution. NOLA is cozy with a small assortment of tables, but with an open concept kitchen and high open ceiling,  The space feels much bigger and very welcoming.  There are chill tunes and Broeders artisanal beer on tap.  Who could ask for more?

Cocina Sunae
Christina Sunae’s Philippine background takes center stage at this Puerta Cerrada-style restaurant where she, along with her Argentine husband Franco, and their small team of cooks knock out six-course Pan-Asian menus four days of the week.  Everything from Phô to Pad Thai and a lot more in between is fair game, leaving diners saying it’s some of the best Asian cuisine they’ve had outside of the East.

Hot right now, BASA offers up a yankee vibe, though don’t expect to find a bunch of tourists hanging around.  With a relaxed interior of distressed wood and steel, the drinks are a strong selling point, and the food, like hand-crafted tablas to accompany your drinks, is just as good.  Great for a date night, or night of drinks with friends.

Casa Cruz
The incredible bodega at Casa Cruz is worth a visit alone.  A massive glass wall exhibits bottles from floor to ceiling.  Millions of bottles.  The impressive dining room which appear after you make your way through the gigantic golden door , is one of the most beautiful in the city.  It’s an absolute must for tourists, offering up a diverse menu with fine dining touches.

Fernando Trocca’s beloved restaurant has a coal-burning grill that offers up a distinct flavor to all of his asados.  Diners get to see the action in the open kitchen, from the comfort of the slick dining room.  In addition to Trocca’s delicious meats, you can enjoy a bodega with more than 5000 different bottles of wine, from Argentine to Spanish.  Easily one of the most recognized names in Argentine cuisine, Sucre is a Buenos Aires standard.

The best part about Aldo’s is the chance to drink great wines at a great price.  The man behind the restaurant is Aldo Graziani, one of the most acclaimed sommeliers in Argentina.  Aldo’s does focus on wine, but they have a great menu to accompany any glass.  Here you’ll find a simple menu, inspired in traditional Porteño dishes with Spanish and Italian influences.

Don Julio
The quintessential steak dinner in Argentina.  Don Julio is a crowd pleaser and a must-try while spending any time in Buenos Aires.   There’s a charm to the old-school eatery, the waiters buslting around tables in crisp white dress shirts and bow ties, the old dusty wine bottles lining the walls.  The parilla (grill) is at the heart of this reastaurant – literlly and figuratively.  You can find any kind of beef here, prepared any way that you like it.  Side dishes aren’t their strong suit, but really, all of the precious space in our stomachs is reserved for meat on a visit to Don Julio.  Come early or plan to wait.

El Baqueano
Tucked away in San Telmo, surrounded by touristy cafés, bars, gastropubs and so forth, El Baqueano is quietly creating their own version of New Argentine cuisine.  Modern meets rustic in this wood-clad space, where they also play host to the monthly Cocina Sin Fronteras series that brings chefs from all over South America for special one-night-only dinners.  Don’t expect your typical steak meal here; the kitchen features some of Argentina’s other meats, like jacare, patagonian lamb and king crab, to name a few.

Los Imortales
One of the few traditional pizzerias in Buenos Aires that time hasn’t changed.  Los Imortales dates all the way back to 1952 and shows off photos of Argentine celebrities throughout the years.  Though there are other locations of Los Imortales, it’s the original on Corrientes where you’ll want to head.  Each location offers brick-oven pizza, with heaps of cheese and a crisp crust that has made it a favorite among locals.

Eating in the old Buenos Aires neighbourhood of San Telmo is better now that Chochan is up and running.  The menu is small–six sandwiches, six small plates, a couple of sides.  But it really works.  Each plate depends on the availability of local, seasonal products, i.e. what the pig guy brings in.  There are also six house made sauces that bring the quality of these sandwiches up from excellent to mind blowing.

Looking for a classic bunch spot with a modern twist?  A fix for bacon and eggs and maybe even a rich hollandaise on a Sunday?  Brunch hasn’t always been a big thing in Argentina.  The trend is growing, but it all started at Malvon confitería.  Malvon offers classic brunch and adds an Argentine twist (more meat options, no joke).  Your brunch adventure will include freshly baked bread, cornmeal muffins, coffee, lemonade, wine, sticky fresh fruits in syrup … and all of this leads up to the main dish of your choice.

El Cuartito
Pizza is everywhere in Buenos Aires.  El Cuartito, one of the oldest pizza joints in the city, lay quietly tucked away near the centre of town.  Inside the small shop, though, it is anything but quiet.  The walls are plastered with futbol memorabilia and the pizzas are almost thrown from the oven onto the tables.  It is worth a visit to this iconic pizzeria, and when you go, try the fugazzeta, which comes stuffed with oozing mozzarella and sautéed onions.

Bar du Marche
In Argentina you can drink as much (Argentine) wine as you’d ever want to.  We all pay homage to Malbec, however, there are other great grapes out there too.  Bar du Marche is a French bistro with more than 50 wines from all over the world by the glass.  This includes Italian, French, sparkling, rose, the possibilities are almost endless!  This is a great spot for a leisurely lunch or a long afternoon of sampling.

Cava Jufre
This is the real surprise for the list of where to be in BsAs.  A tiny hole in the wall, Cava Jufre is all about the joys that wine brings.  The same kind of joy you get from running through a lawn sprinkler when you are five years old.  The owner spends time gathering top wines that are not easily accesible otherwise.  You’ll select your own wine bottle from a huge wine rack – knowledgeable staff are there to assist if you’d like.  The place is small, cozy and mismatched in the best way.  You might be squeezed in but consider yourself lucky to have a seat.  The food menu is limited; mainly empanadas (made with phylo pastry, a great twist) and charcuterie boards, but what could be a better accompaniment for wine? Worth a visit, trust us.

Although iLatina is probably the most open of the Puertas Cerradas style dining establishments, they still sling their Caribbean-inspired flavors out of an old house.  In a city that is utterly Latin, finding more tropically-influenced Latin Cuisine isn’t the easiest to do.  With Colombia as their starting point, this trio of brothers has been steadily winning over the hearts and stomachs with their playful, spicy, and abundantly flavorful cuisine.

Banco Rojo
Here you’ll find the best ‘on the go’ food with a gourmet touch.  Banco Rojo offers a varied menu with sandwiches, hamburgers, and salads made with fresh, high-quality ingredients, all made to order.  It’s a relaxed environment with barely even a sign outside to know you’re in the right place.  Just look for the red bench and the chalkboard menu.

Burger Joint
All over the world there are arguments about the best burgers.  In the heart of Palermo Soho, one block from the always bustling Plaza Serrano lay this grungy, in your face, graffiti-covered burger haven.  The owner has spent time in NYC working to perfect his construction of the perfect burger, and this place reflects the New York style.  Find a variety of burgers, (think American style – hot peppers, home made sauces, cheese to make your tastebuds sing), perfectly crispy golden fries, and locally brewed beers on tap.

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