Last updated on July 19th, 2018 at 11:35 am
If you’re looking for the best restaurants in Buenos Aires, you’ve found the list of locals secrets! Argentina is known for many wonderful things – incredible wine, a vibrant history, stunning landscapes and a passionate football team (some might say even God played a hand in some of their successes), but food diversity is NOT one of them! When it comes to food it’s true that Argentina has some of the best beef on the planet…and don’t they know it, with Argentina having the highest consumption of beef in the world with a whopping 68kg per capita each year. However, when it comes to a diverse range of cuisine some may find Argentina a little limited with most of the offerings being meat or pasta based, all washed down with lashings of vino (which admittedly is never a bad thing).
I am a spoiled Londoner who is used to international cuisine is readily available on my doorstep. For those of you who are like me and believe that ‘variety is the spice of life’ take a look at some of my favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires to give you some choice when you find yourself in the capital for a few days and want to know what it has to offer! With the help of my colleagues, I have created a list of some of our top spots to try and fear not there are still plenty of hearty meat options for you carnivores in the hunt for your meat fix in Steak Country!
If you are looking for something truly Argentine in a meat feast, Malbec drenched, family run and unfussy service sort of way then Boliche de Nico’s is the place for you. I was introduced to this place by my friend’s boyfriend and since then have probably been back every month! The first time we went there was a queue of over 30 people waiting outside (as no reservations are taken). This filled me with not only dread at the upcoming wait in chilly temperatures but also high expectations as in the ‘country of cows’ there is a parrilla on every corner so I was keen to see what made this place so special.
If you can handle the wait then I promise you that you will not be disappointed. Remember! A line means that people (and locals) like it! The place is classic, authentic, colorful and adorned with traditional fileteado (a type of artistic drawing and lettering, with stylised lines and flowered, climbing plants, typically used in Buenos Aires). El Boliche de Nico’s has an incredible buzz and atmosphere. When you arrive you are immediately treated to handmade empanadas, warm bread, and some homemade dips.
The menu, as I am sure you can imagine, is very traditional and they are famous for their ‘Asados’ (Argentine BBQs), but there is also pasta, salads and other classic dishes on offer. We normally choose the ‘Surtido de Carnes’ which comes with a starter of baked provoleta cheese, a selection of barbecued meats, side salad and chips and is more than enough for over 3 people and this costs an amazing $475 Argentine pesos which is less than $20 USD, a half decent bottle of wine will be less than 5 dollars so you really can’t go wrong! I highly recommend this place for anyone keen to eat like a local, get off the tourist track and have a belly full of delicious steak and wine in the ‘City of Fury!’
#2. La Cabrera
Staying with the meat theme if you are looking for somewhere a little more upmarket then I would recommend La Cabrera. I have a soft spot for this place. After my backpacking adventures, I often treat myself to a meal here, which trust me is a real luxury on a backpackers budget. This restaurant will give you the traditional ‘Parrilla’ experience in a fine dining environment. Unlike Boliche de Nico’s this place will treat you to a glass of bubbly whilst you wait, which is always a nice start to your evening.
The menu again is classic Argentine cuts of meat served up to you with a choice of delicious side dishes. Whilst I believe it is frequented by some locals, I would say this is definitely a more touristy hot spot due to its great location(s) (it has two restaurant sites not far from each other) in the buzzing Palermo neighborhood.
A decent meal here will be much more like prices we are used to in Europe or the USA. A steak here may cost anything from $15 USD and upwards, plus any sides and a bottle from an extensive wine list I believe you would be looking at more like $40 USD per person. A little secret for those that don’t mind an early dinner (something you will never find an Argentine doing) you can get 40% off your bill if you come here between 6:30 – 8 pm!
#3. Siamo Nel Forno
Argentina is a mix of various cultures. It is estimated that up to 25 million Argentines have a little Italian descent (up to 62.5% of the total population). Way back in 1857-1940 many Italians began immigrating to Argentina. So it may surprise you to hear that Argentina has also been known to have some of the ‘worst pizzas in the world’ which I am sure that Italian Nonna’s everywhere are turning in their graves at the hearing!
Many of the pizzas in most restaurants have extremely thick bases, are layered with heavy, tasteless, rubbery cheese, have little to no bland tomato sauce and an often bizarre choice of toppings…but fear not Siamo Nel Forno is here to save you from your pizza nightmares!!! Their true Napoletana style pizza really makes it stand out and the simple but delicious menu cooked with high-quality ingredients (many imported from Italy) in a wood-fired oven will be a ‘sight for sore eyes’ and indeed ‘a taste for sore taste buds’. I went recently with my Italian friend (also a member of the wonderful SouthAmerica.Travel team) and it even got a thumbs up from her! She was raised on a diet of fresh pizza, pasta…and Nutella, so they must be doing something right!
#4. El Sanjuanino
It would be a crime to Argentina and not indulge in an empanada…or five! These tasty little morsels are pastries filled with all sorts of goodies from ham and cheese, vegetables, sweetcorn, chicken and of course red meat! You can probably find an empanada shop on every street corner and can cost anything from 50 cents to 1.50 USD each one and they are perfect to fill a hole.
Each region of Argentina claims to make the best empanadas, but the variety from the North (Salta, Tucuman etc) are arguably the best! I personally love my empanadas sitting outside with a beer but if you want to head to a traditional Argie restaurant to get your fill then I would recommend El Sanjuanino as the place for you.
This small chain has three locations throughout the city with one of them being in Recoleta so you cannot miss a tasty feed here. The empanada choice is extensive with over 10 different flavors to choose from including some popular varieties from the north! The rest of the menu will also offer you great traditional Argentina fare with milanesas, pasta and also more classic old school dishes like guiso and locro which come highly recommended!
This one is a bit of a cheat as it is not a specific location, but if like me you are indecisive and struggle to choose what sort of ‘food mood’ you are in the San Telmo Market (which runs every Sunday) is a great place to start! San Telmo is by far one of my most favorite neighborhoods, it’s run down, bohemian, shabby chic vibe would not look out of place in the hipster neighborhoods of East London and if you can time your trip to be here on a Sunday then even better!
Not only will you be entertained by the blocks and blocks of cobbled street market stalls selling everything from handmade leather goods, art, music, jewelry, clothes, antiques, be taken in by the impromptu musicians, live tango shows, but you may also stumble across the ‘Mercado San Telmo’. This is a covered food market and it is somewhat of a hidden culinary gem! Whilst in the past the indoor market was more renowned for its antiques and brick-a brace stalls it is now the gastronomic hub in the city’s oldest and coolest barrio! The market offers a heavy dose of world cuisine and in here you can find everything from a traditional French bakery, Swiss raclette, typical food from Argentina, some of the best Latin coffee from the continent and for those looking for a more Asian flavor than a fantastic restaurant called Saigon has some incredible Vietnamese food to try! This has saved much food based arguments between me and my partner because everyone can grab whatever food they fancy, you can eat it ‘al fresco’ with a chilled beer or a tall glass of red as you lose yourself in the hustle and bustle of the market and soak up the wonderfully chaotic Argentine atmosphere!
#6. Lucciano’s and Rapa Nui
When I arrived in Argentina I certainly felt like the cat that got the (ice) cream! Thanks to their strong Italian heritage ice cream is a very serious business here in Buenos Aires and is a natural part of a Porteño’s life, especially in the summer! Again you will be spoilt with a Heladeria on nearly every block and will be lured in to feast your eyes on some of the delicious flavors they have on offer. My personal favorite is Dulce De Leche Granizado but they also have other interesting choices like strawberries and cream, rich Chocolate from Bariloche, coconut and white chocolate, fruits of the forest and the forever popular Banana Split!
You can buy your ice cream by the pot, by the cone and for those of you with a real rumble in your stomach then also by the kilo! Something which was quite the novelty in the beginning for me was the fact that you could call up and get your ice cream delivered! You can literally be sat at home in your pajamas, craving a sweet treat, make your order and await the friendly little ice cream man to turn up on his moped with your kilo of ice cream and that my friends are the future! There are soooo many great Healderias (ice cream shops) to choose from so you really should try as many as you can (in the name of research obviously) but 2 of my favourites are Rapa Nui and Lucciano’s which are small chains here in the city and you can see several dotted about to satisfy your ice cream dreams!
Curious about Buenos Aires and Argentina? We’re here to help answer any of your questions! Please contact an Expert Travel Consultant. This delicious entry was written by our very own Millie Davies. She originally comes from England, but now calls Buenos Aires home.