Food and Drink in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires' dining options will surprise and delight you, especially if you expected only steaks and other standard South American fare. The city's large population of Italian descendants -- well over 1 million -- has heavily influenced the cuisine, and some of the best Italian cooking outside the home country can be found there.
The cosmopolitan nature of the city means that there really is something for everyone -- and at prices that most can afford.
But, there's no getting away from it, the capital is not great for vegetarians. If you like steak, however, you'll be in heaven. Steakhouses abound, and apart from a few exceptions, are very reasonably priced compared to what you would pay in the U.S. or the U.K. The Italian influence is strongly felt in terms of cuisine and you'll find a lot of trattorias, again at reasonable prices.
Sorrento del Puerto is a sleek and modern setting for Italian food, with large windows on two floors to capture the view. The pasta is excellent, the seafood even better. (Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 430, 4319 8730)
El Mirasol is one of the oldest and best known steak house chains in Buenos Aires, with four dotted around the city, including in Puerto Madero, which is in a great spot overlooking the river. If you like traditional white cloth-covered tables, red napkins and smartly dressed waiters as well, of course, as outstanding cuts of meat, then this is a good bet. (Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 202)
Sotto Voce is an upmarket Italian restaurant serving classic Italian fare in a lovely setting, set back from the main shorefront road. If you want a break from steak, then this is a good option. (Av. Alicia M de Justo 176)
Cabana las Lilas, one of the best of the city's parrillas (barbecue houses), is where steak-lovers will discover why Argentina is famous for its beef. Thick steaks come sizzling from the charcoal grill. This is an equally fine choice for dinner, although it can be expensive. (Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 516, 4313 1336)
El Mercardo at the Faena Hotel serves traditional Argentinian cuisine. Designer Philippe Starck has really gone to town in this restaurant, which features all exposed brick walls and antique glass cases stuffed with knickknacks relating to local characters. Afterward, the adjacent Library Lounge bar is the place to be seen. (Martha Salotti, 4010 9200)
Katrine is an upscale eatery named after its Norwegian chef/owner. The venue serves a few Scandinavian dishes along with a fine continental menu. The outdoor terrace overlooking the water is ideal for a warm evening. (Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 138, 4315 6222)
Center Cafe Tortoni, a favorite with the city's artists and writers since 1880, is the place for a light lunch amid Old World ambience and prime people-watching. An art nouveau beauty, it features a stained-glass skylight and original artwork, caricatures, portraits and photos of great poets lining the walls. (Av. de Mayo 829, 4342 4328)
Catalinas serves Mediterranean and international dishes in three elegant dining rooms, each painted by a well-known Argentinean artist. The three-course prix fixe menu, including Argentinean wine, is of excellent value. The eatery is especially noted for its grilled lamb chops. (Reconquista 850, 4313 0182)
La Estancia is another of the city's classic parrillas, specializing in beef grilled on a spit. They'll slice up as much tender beef as you can eat. (Lavalle 941, 4326 0330)
Broccolino, a casual family-run trattoria, takes its name from New York's Brooklyn, and boasts Brooklyn memorabilia and a mural of Manhattan's skyline. Pizzas, pastas and calamari sauteed in wine are among the favorite dishes. (Esmeralda 776, 4322 9848)
Dada Bistrot is the place to mingle with the locals. The decor of this snug bistro hasn't changed much in decades, but the kitchen produces hearty local dishes, including great steaks and pasta and wonderful desserts. (San Martin 941, 4314 4787)
Cafe Victoria offers a three-course lunch served on a shaded patio surrounded by flowers. Afternoon tea with scones is served at 4 p.m. The location is perfect if you are visiting the nearby Recoleta Cemetery. (Roberto M. Ortiz 1865, 4804 0016)
La Bourgogne is generally considered the best restaurant in the city, and one of the best in all of South America. French and continental dishes are served in an elegant formal dining room decorated in pastel hues. Reservations are required, as are jackets and ties for men. (Alvear Palace Hotel, 4805 3857)
Lola is a chic contemporary choice, bright and cheerful with caricatures of local personalities on the walls. A French-trained chef presides here in one of the city's best-known eateries. (Roberto M. Ortiz 1805, 4804 5959)
Chez Nous is the restaurant on-site at the Algodon Mansion, a Belle Epoque boutique hotel. The decor is as cutting edge as the cuisine, which fuses European and Argentine influence. The wine and some ingredients are from the hotel's sister property in Mendoza. (Montevideo 1647, 3535 1365)
Fervor makes a pleasant change from all the meat options, in that there is also an extensive seafood menu, much of it grilled on the parilla to sublime affect. It's not cheap, but the setting and the quality of the cuisine is worth it for a splurge. (Posadas, 1519)
Cabernet might be set in the heart of the trendy Palermo area, but a meal in the garden of this upmarket restaurant will transport you straight to Tuscany -- with a few surprises like lamb couscous -- and, of course, a grill with various steak cuts. The wine list, however, is thoroughly Argentinean. (1757 Jorge Luis Borges, 4831 3071)
Pain Et Vin is a really lovely wine bar which offers wine tasting (750 ARS per person) and a limited but supremely tasty menu based on Israeli chef Ohad's absolute passion for bread, which is all naturally fermented, handmade and baked in a wood-fired oven, and perfectly complements the wine. Menu items include prosciutto, quinoa salad, prawns and meatballs as well as a rather incongruous mac 'n' cheese! The wines are all Argentinian and sourced from small, independent vineyards. (Gorritti 5132)
Aldo's, located in an Art Deco building a few meters from Plaza de Mayo, is a modern brasserie with 500 bottles of wine on display sold at retail prices. The food draws on Italian influences, with the fresh pasta being especially notable. (372 Moreno, 5291 2380)
La Brigada is a BA institution, founded in 1992, and offering some of best and widest choice of cuts and wine selection in the city. Packed, noisy and fun, its centerpiece is the parilla (grill) where you can watch your steak sizzle before it's served. (Estados Unidos, 463)