This list makes me feel both a little embarrassed (yes, I ate and drank at all of these places) but also like a foodie champ. From July 2012 to July 2013, I checked out each and every lugar listed below. I have listed them within each category in descending order of awesome-ness.
in Bocca al Lupo Caffé
Lovely space in Palermo with coffee cups hanging from the ceiling, Illy coffee and lots of space upstairs to camp out and do work. Watch out for the Nutella croissants. Highly recommend the Il Rustico (prosciutto sandwich and a coffee). Might need to keep that Word Reference open because everything is in Italian (they also have conversational classes there during the week).
A classic. Beware: this place gets mad crazy in terms of lines the later in the day you go on Sunday. Think pink tables, lots of Palermo-ites girls in their 20s, lemonade. Go for the Gallo (yogurt, fruit, granola, coffee) or the gringo breakfast (eggs, bacon, toast). Regarding the baked goods, the banana bread is my favorite.
Just down the street from Oui Oui. Most definitely the girliest decor I have seen in my life and the most insane desserts (cinnamon rolls, Oreo cheesecake, DDL/brownie sandwiches). The burger is a challenge to eat as is the club waffle, but it will do the trick if your tummy is on empty after a long night/day at the boliches.
An adorable little (strategic for brunch with just one other person given that there is limited space) place in Villa Crespo. First time I had seen French toast or pancakes in a while. The breakfast sandwich is on an actual bagel and comes with egg and cheese and ham. This is about as close to the real deal as you can get in BA.
Quite the hip place just screaming to be Instagrammed with kind of a Southern US vibe to it. Mad bread display and a brunch option that includes an entree, a drink, a cornbread muffin with a swab of butter, and a yogurt/granola thing.
Scandinavia takes over BA. Absolutely gorgeous design, it made me want to move to Sweden and have a house with high ceilings and made out of wood. The menu is quite complicated and the food is mas o menos but its a good vibe and great for people watching. The blueberry muffins in the shape of a star are lovely.
Panaderia del Pablo
Ideal if you are in San Telmo on a Sunday for the feria but don’t want to eat in one of the pricey/not so good parrillas on every corner. There is a beautiful patio in the back for a big group situation and a great salad with shrimp. Apparently Bloody Mary’s are big there also, depending on your alcohol consumption the night before that might be just the thing you need.
Reminds me of Olsen–high ceilings, chic people eating salads with funny English translations. A good option if you’re cruising around Armenia or Honduras window shopping.
Coffee in bowls, Croque Madames that will make you tuck a napkin in your shirt, chocolate croissants that will crumble all over you in deliciousness.
Food is not so great. The chocolate cake looked good though.
Bad sign when the waiter asks you if you want a bagel while you wait for your food. I had no idea it took an hour to put yogurt in a bowl. It’s a bummer this place isn’t better because it has great decor.
La Cresta: Casa del Spiedo
I cannot say enough good things about Cresta. Stu is the man and I think he has probably met every Midd Kid studying in BA in the past year because we all become obsessed with his wraps. My favorite is the sultan: hummus, tabbouleh, babaganoush and beef. He also has a dinner special every night of the week, soup, cheese bread, all sorts of salads, burgers, guacamole and whole chickens or slabs of beef para llevar. Note: this is a to go place and is not the easiest to get to but it’s definitely worth the journey.
Where the majority of this list was written and my Argentine Foreign Policy reading was done. There is currently some Feist playing, it smells like cookies and there is a film crew doing an interview with one of the owners. I just finished a cup of coffee and a plain and simple ham and cheese sandwich on a fresh baguette.
If you go in here and say you know a girl with short hair they will probably ask you why I don’t have any friends. The food is very healthy and filling and the place is never that crowded which makes it ideal for a solo work date. I highly recommend the calabaza salad, the both the avocado licuado (yes, avocado) and the licuado with almonds, honey and walnuts…
and of course the ice cream (made in house).
El Banco Rojo
It is probably a good thing that I only discovered the mind-blowing-ness of the chicken shawarma and the potato chips from El Banco Rojo in my second to last week here. Think a huge pita with yogurts and onions and tomatoes and chicken and other things I didn’t even notice because I devoured it like a vulture. Rock music, badass looking people working the grill, men drinking beer, etc.
Le Pain Quotidien
I know I know, globalization. But I cannot get enough of the ham/avocado/tomato/EVOO tartine and the coffee and the brownies for a MAJOR sugar/caffeine rush. There is one strategically located near MALBA if you are thinking of a museum and nice lunch.
A natural food cafe where Jack Johnson music will most likely be playing and there are inspirational doodles all over the walls. Most definitely order one of the 1628 varieties of lemonade they have and the chicken sandwich and you will feel like you are back home (at least for me) in California.
A rare gem in BA: healthy food to go and yogurt (not milk, actually yogrt) that is not sugary nonsense with frosted flakes. I dig the chicken curry salad, any of the yogurt parfaits, the flourless chocolate cake, the chocolate covered oranges and the granola.
My go to spot when I lived in Belgrano. I highly recommend the Deportista merienda/breakfast: scrambled eggs, coffee or tea, yummy wheat (yes, wheat) bread, and a banana licuado. I know it doesn’t sound revolutionary but it makes for ideal brain food. The desserts are yummy but mostly the best part is the design and layout of the place, ideal for girl dates.
A lovely cafe on a quiet corner of Belgrano with promising meriendas, oodles of desserts, and lots of young mommies. Good place to have a solo lunch.
Various locations around the city, also a mommy central kind of place. The food is so so but there is a type of tea for everyone. An ideal place to camp out with your reading and remember that you are actually here to study.
The chino on Montañeses and Juramento with the green door
I do not know your name but I liked feeling somewhat healthy two days a week during lunchtime.
Sandwiches and salads (yes, lettuce) to go. Quite busy during peak lunch hour in Centro.
In the back of a bikini shop you will find a cute little cafe with couches and decent salads.
Juices and smoothies for days. The yogurt/tea/fruit merienda special is surprisingly enormous. Not the best food wise but good to fuel up with some vitamin C.
If you are vegan, this is the place for you. Baked goods and a nice midday vibe. You will leave feeling healthy.
This is a Moroccan-ish place where teas and curries abound. But please do not order the lamb burger if you have a sensitive stomach. Just don’t.
Quirky decoration and tunes but meh food.
To-go place in Centro with good sandwiches and salads.
Also a to-go place in Centro with good salads and sandwiches.
Go to the one on Callao and meet my host family and various elderly Recoleta ladies. Ideal if you’re at the cemetery and are looking for somewhere to have coffee and medialunas afterwards.
When it’s warm outside, the patio is charming. The food is so-so, but there are all sorts of plants growing and it makes for a prime location to discuss what you just saw in the museum.
On a corner in the heart of Palermo Soho, you will find Felicidad, a café with bright walls and inspirational quotes everywhere. Nice place to fuel up after navigating those tricky cobblestone streets for a while.
Stumbled upon this place once. Don’t remember much else.
You know you actually aren’t going to get a real bagel here. So don’t go.
On a pretty corner in Palermo, but not so pretty food.
The king of ice creams (well, it’s actually gelato). With the very dark chocolate and the coffee and a little bit of DDL, I was ready to call it a day. At 28 pesos for a vaso chiquito, this place is definitely not cheap (it is in Recoleta, after all). But go for a special sweet tooth moment and to laugh at the Recoleta women in their full length fur coats eating ice cream.
Postres galore. Chocolate, DDL, mini alfajores, cuadrados de coco, you name it they’ve got it. A good idea if you want to bring dessert as a gift to someone’s home.
Fancy pants Recoleta desserts.
HELADO (obviously its own subcategory)
Every Argentine has their preferred marca of ice cream. You will encounter die-hard Freddo fans, people who swear by Volta or Grido and many others who are just content if you give them a scoop of DDL. Argentines care a lot about ice cream and politics.
Ideal date spot. Homemade focaccia and pasta, salads that are worth ordering even if you think you’re not hungry or you want to do the eat less on the date thing to not come off as a big eater, dim lighting, scarce decoration, etc. Its a bit of a trek (in San Telmo), but that makes it all the more special.
Perfect for a date with someone that you are already dating. If not, it would be a little bit overwhelming given that there are only 4 tables and it’s the kind of place where you just feel all snuggly and want wine. Make sure you call ahead for a reservation so that you can actually eat there and so that they can write your name on the board outside.
Siamo nel Forno
Actual pizza. By that I mean pizza that is not smothered in onions with a bread-like consistency that you shovel in your mouth at 4 AM. This is real Sicilian pizza made in a brick oven with thin crust. The winner is the spinach one.
A cozy, cheap Argentine place with a line out the door. Prepare yourself for a cazuela (I would best describe it as a game-changing stew)–the best one is sweet potatoes, meat and cheese. The empanadas are also tempting. As are the crayons at the table (not to eat, to draw with, silly)
Esperanza de los Ascurra
Spanish (as in España) tapas that disappear within seconds, cheap beer, wine, vermouth (what is vermouth actually?). Go for gambas al ajillo, albondigas, rabas, the fresh olive bread, burrata. Ideal for a small group (there is only one large table).
It might somewhat scare you if you notice that the door and windows to the restaurant are covered by bars and from the street all you can hear is cumbia. HOWEVER the menu has TACOS (yes, Mexican food) and all sorts of curries and things from Central America. All I have to say is tacos. Tacos.
You’ve got 3 options: the Mexican (jalapeño, guac, cheese, tomatoes, onions), the Jamaican (pineapple, ham) and the classic (your basic cheeseburger). Witty signs, people writing all over the walls, rock music, a little taste of home.
La Más Querida
A very friendly neighborhood pizza place in Belgrano. If I tell you that the owner was wearing a gray turtleneck and huge glasses and had a healthy mustache, does that give you an idea? Colorful walls, beautiful music, we shut the place down and were nice and cozy due to the pizza oven’s generous warmth.
Fish and chips in Buenos Aires. Did I really say that? I am a believer in the fish cakes with some tartar sauce and the plain ol’ chips but hey the Argentines can’t get enough of the Roquefort, can they? Ideal for warm nights because they have quite a lot of outside seating.
This is the Porsche/Ferrari/Audi-something-with-numbers of the parrillas. BEWARE of the secret salads! You order a bife de chorizo and a bottle of wine and some chorizo maybe and then you are hit with 1093801 ramekins of beans and sauces (excuse the grainy photo below, but I had to provide evidence). And then you just HAVE to go for the chocolate volcano for dessert because I mean how could you not? You will leave wanting to vomit and it is somewhat of a tourist trap but it’s worth it.
La Fábrica del Taco
Not the most revolutionary tacos I’ve had in my life, but it will tide you over until Chipotle is back in your life. I didn’t understand why the security guard with a gaucho hat escorted each person to their table and then sat in your chair and pretended to be you ordering from the menu, but I didn’t mind. I also highly recommend the drink that has some maracuya floating in it.
Lotta hype about this place. It’s definitely perfect for foodies, I mean, who else would be down to eat quail or rabbit or desserts involving cardamom? Watch out for the weird mannequins in the bathroom. You must order the mushroom ravioli if they have them.
While I was a little bit weirded out by the fact that this place seemed to be inside a family’s home and they kicked everyone out pretty early (so that the kids could go to sleep?) this platter really can’t be beat.
Known by everyone as “the red chair place” this is the ultimate for empanadas, secretly amazing quesadillas, and meat to your heart’s content. Beware: if you go here on the weekend for a casual meal with 129380 of your closest study abroad friends, you just might end up waiting 2 hours for a table (they don’t take reservations).
Uber hip/trendy/expensive Peruvian/Japanese fusion restaurant with lots of ceviche and sushi and sashimi.
Más o menos dinner places
Rather expensive Indian-ish/healthy-ish food in the heart of Palermo with a great patio.
Good for big groups and a big serving of pasta.
Classy parilla. You’ve gotta go all out: empanadas, bife de chorizo and dessert. The apple pie with ice cream surprisingly came with all these cookies and crystallized oranges and other sweet things. Only downer was a slightly judgy waiter, but break out your best casteshhhano and he won’t bother you so much.
I’ll give you a quick guide to Peruvian food: it is a lot of rice, creamy sauces, and fresh fish with citrus going on.
Hip happening sushi place in the middle of Palermo. It will make you long for your days of eating sushi and not wondering when the fish died.
Not as hip happening of a sushi place. Got kicked out at midnight on a Thursday (that’s basically lunchtime for porteños).
Honor y Causa
Quite possibly the only place recommended by Pick up the Fork that I didn’t like. Not buena onda, waiter was rude, food was meh.
Make your own wok (or more like you select the items and they saltear them for you). Was a little bit concerned by how fresh the ingredients looked, but I survived.
Parilla-ish place in a sort-of basement with a salad bar (yes, a salad bar).
Siga la Vaca
Ideal for when you, an unknowing yanqui with your troupe of study abroad companions, want to eat all the meat and all the cheese and all the beer/wine in the Southern Hemisphere, be loud and obnoxious Americans and don’t care a bit. Here you pay a flat fee and then eat as much as you want, which seems to be a synonym for “eat until you puke” between 20-year old males.
This is the place I always passed by in a taxi at night wondered “what is the deal with the big canopy and the millions of people waiting outside?” While I enjoyed my hummus/feta/yogurt covered meat brochettes/pita/baklava in the moment, my stomach did not. Apparently not either for the girl puking next to me in the bathroom.
La Olla del Felix
Weird little place in Recoleta that reminded me of an old cat lady’s house. There was just stuff everywhere. And my stomach felt so weird afterwards. Just weird.
Argentine pizza chain named after a US state even though they probably don’t know that which you will only go to in your lowest of lows after a night or drinking and dancing at about 5 AM. Many a Sunday afternoon will be spent asking yourself “Why did I eat 2 pieces of fugazzetta at 5 AM?” (especially if the pizza caused you to throw up…)
A note regarding closed door restaurants. For me, some of my most special foodie experiences were spent in the company of one good friend over 7 courses of food and 7 different wines. Although the price tag is heftier than your normal milanesa dinner, going to a puerta cerrada is an experience. You can feel the love that the chefs have for the ingredients and many cook for you in their home. Also you can interact with diners from all over the world. I highly recommend at least one outing to any of the places listed below.
The twinkling lights, the plants, the homemade Peruvian cocktail in the courtyard, the mingling with guests from Canada/Malaysia/Amerikuh/London, just overall buena onda and very light but satisfying local-ish pescetarian food. Reminds me of the good old Golden State a bit.
Somewhere to celebrate a special occasion, such as one’s entrance into her 20′s, perhaps. Went with 5 friends and we sat in a semi-private room and were just soaking up all the wine knowledge and the sexy vibes and the delicious sort of Mediterranean infused food.
These two Colombian brothers and their colorful and very tasty plates are getting ALL the hype. Drool worthy arepas (pictured below), pork which one diner claimed made her feel “The happiest I’ve been all week,” dark chocolate salted mousse, a bread basket to die for, the list goes on… Potentially the most expensive puerta cerrada out there on the market, but it’s worth a splurge with a foodie friend. They also do a brunch one every month or so and the onda wasn’t as good without the candles and dramatic shadows but the food still killed it.
If I said “fried green tomato,” for example, would you be imagining a beautiful communal table with some Torrontes and Argie strangers? I confessed my girl crush on Chef Liza (she met her whimsically mustachioed boyfriend/ wine expert partner in a hostel while traveling and then dropped her cooking life in the US to move down here and just go for it) somewhat tipsily in the guest book. A taste of something from home, even if you in fact are not from the south.
My very first puerta cerrada. Oh, how young and inexperienced I was back then in August 2012. Spring rolls, light wines, some Southeastern Asian flavors if you’re one of those people who is always complaining you can’t find anything good in Barrio Chino.
La Cocina Discreta
Art gallery by day, puerta cerrada with the art still there by night. A little weirded out that we were the only reservation for the whole evening.
Note: the drinking age in Argentina is 18.
Rey de Copas
My favorite-est bar in BA. Kind of Moroccan-hipster vibe going on. Think lots of couches and drinks with maracuyá and waitresses with interesting haircuts.
The whole speakeasy/secret bar idea had me hooked from the beginning. You’re in a quiet part of Palermo sort of and then you see a bouncer and you have arrived. Make sure you go on the weekend so you can cruise through the front bar through the metal door next to the bathroom and arrive at the back room. Great music, strong drinks, sexy lighting, bartenders wearing suspenders, what more could you want?
The most pretentious bar I have encountered in my lifetime. The bouncer turned a friend away for wearing Converse and another time made up a nonexistent rule that I, a soon to be 21 year old, could not enter. I reminded him that we were not in the United States of America. I do have to say though that it is worth one visit. You have to figure out the password based on clues posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages (there is a link on the Facebook page so you can check beforehand to make sure you have it right). Give this name to the bouncer and you enter into a hallway and into a phone booth where you type a number and then struggle to figure out how to open the door when the buzzer goes off. Then you are swept into speakeasy central with 70 peso drinks and the urge to drink gin or act like Jay Gatsby.
A beautiful bar in Recoleta inside an old mansion, complete with a winding staircase and jazzy music. A place to go as a study abroad student and pretend you’re an actual grownup.
This place is almost TOO trendy. The trance-y but mellow electronic music, the towers of sushi, the fact that all the drinks cost 70 pesos, the amount of leather leggings and platform leopard sneakers per square meter, etc. However, it’s worth a visit to feel like you have seen the Argentine 20something elite.
Once you have a little bit of Argentine history under your belt (could you tell me where Eva’s cadaver went?), this place is amusing. Order a big glass of wine and just walk around looking at all the of the photos of Juan and Eva (and Néstor and Cristina). Offer to buy a drink for the person in your group who does the best Eva imitation.
Gringo central. But hey, sometimes you want to be around a million other study abroad students speaking English and cringe when you watch one of your friends getting hit on by 30 year old Argentine guys who tell them that their Spanish is good (right?). The place to be for the yanqui holidays and Sunday breakfast burritos.
Another gringo hotspot only a few blocks away. The American holidays are celebrated with drink specials, great music, and lots of energy by all the expats. During NFL season you can watch games here, so I’ve heard.
Another another gringo hotspot. NBA playoffs, election results brought to you courtesy of 100 TVs turned to CNN, you get the picture.
Sticky floors, bartenders who give you the gross Fernet instead of the good one, just a quilombo.
Buenos Aires Market
The perfect way to spend a Saturday or Sunday afternoon: strolling around a park (usually Bosques de Palermo) nomming on a lentil burger or perhaps a brownie or a falafel pumpkin sandwich or some steamed corn or a licuado or lemonade. There is one every month or so and I highly highly recommend going to at least one so you can discover some organic/natural food restaurants.
BA Underground Market
In an old factory in a far corner of the city, the hipsters and the foodies come out to play and eat one every two months or so. While it can be a bajón to get to IMPA, like the Buenos Aires Market, it’s a great way to get to know local vendors and meet other expats.
In a market that sells socks and meat you will find this gem of a coffee cart where the people really know what they’re doing.
Ideal for Saturday mornings spent with a basket of whole wheat toast, a café doble, and 200 pages of Political Science reading.
Avenida de Mayo is historic cafe central and Cafe Tortini is potentially the famous-est of the famous ones. The churros and hot chocolate are irresistible.
If you don’t have time to squeeze in a visit to Mendoza or if you have an English-speaking friend visiting from out of town, Anuva is the place for a crash course in Argentine wines (there is more than just Malbec!). Each wine is paired with some small bites. The information was presented very clearly around a communal table and I learned quite a lot.
Queso Brulee de Justine
Who is Justine and did she really come up with this idea? Cheese brulee to be covered with oregano and cumin and such. Coming atcha from an exposition at La Rural when you’ve had to wait an hour to buy your ticket.