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I had a chance to try some of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires on my recent visit, at least as judged by my own eclectic tastes. Read on and you’ll seen if our preferences match, and if you should pop into some of the same places when you visit.
Though I had a relatively good sleep on my American Airlines first class flight from New York, it was still an overnight flight that put me into Buenos Aires before 10 o’clock in the morning. And Buenos Aires is a city that goes late. So despite not having a significant time difference, I followed my usual plan for Europe arrivals — which is to take a nap for a few hours early afternoon, get up, and go to dinner when the locals do.
Dinner at Las Pizarras Bistro: A Fantastic Neighborhood Place and a Great Price
For my first night I wanted something a bit more casual, but still delicious, and the heads of one of the big loyalty programs had recommended a neighborhood place called Las Pizarras Bistro. I had the Park Hyatt’s concierge make me a booking for 8:30pm, and took about a 10 minute taxi ride to the restaurant.
I was not at all disappointed — small at about 40 seats, intimate, reasonably priced, friendly and excellent food.
Menus change frequently and are written up on chalk boards — one for appetizers, one mains, one desserts and then one each for red and for white wine.
The remarkable thing about restaurant wine in Argentina is how inexpensive it is to drink well. Even at the ‘official’ exchange rates, a bottle that would cost $20 in a bottle shop in the U.S. runs about US$20 – $25 served in a restaurant. At least if you’re sticking to Argentina wines (and why wouldn’t you?).
I ordered a 2012 Catalpa Malbec, which was perfectly suited to the evening.
Now, this was a neighborhood place but one that takes its food very seriously. I’ve often thought that for many restaurants butter is a missed opportunity. Here it got good care.
The steak tartare was fresh and flavorful, it’s a dish I have a fairly high bar for a restaurant before ordering and this one was quite good.
The suckling pig could not be beat!
And dessert… a chocolate creme over chocolate biscuit in an orange soup, it was fantastic.
Dinner for 2, three courses with wine, at official exchange rates and I couldn’t come close to spending $100.
Restaurant Elena at the Four Seasons: Among the Upscale Best Restaurants in Buenos Aires for Charcuterie?
I walked the couple of blocks down the street from the Park Hyatt where I was staying, directly along the street where the modern tower of the hotel has its entrance, over to the Four Seasons and went inside.
While considered a nice place and I saw lots of buzz written on it, my take was that it’s good charcuterie but definitely expensive for what it is (it’s at the Four Seasons, natch) so I would consider it ‘worth it’ given the alternatives around.
But they did do a nice job with meat and cheeses!
It was a nice place for lunch or a snack, I ate there mid-afternoon and had the place mostly to my lonesome.
Good enough, kept me tided over until dinner which actually turned out to be quite magnificent.
Dinner at Chila: Truly One of the Best Restaurants in Buenos Aires
Despite a name that to my American ear sounded like Chile, the restaurant is very much Argentinian, as is its star chef Soledad Nardelli. She travels the country to identify the ingredients she wants to incorporate into her cooking, and diners are provided with a map showing where different items for the evening are sourced.
Located on the river, it’s one of the better regarded restaurants in Buenos Aires and one of the pricier ones as well — but it’s a place that would be much more expensive in most other world cities.
The dining room is contemporary, and everyone is welcoming (English is also well-spoken).
We opted for the 7 course tasting menu.
We began with a chef’s taster, a soup almost with sweetbreads
The first course was tourt, and I just loved the presentation and the vegetables were delicious.
The scallop dish came next.
If there was one course the entire night that fell flat, it was the river fish — everything else was perfectly seasoned, this just stood out for lack of flavor.
I recognize the restaurant won’t be for everyone, we began with sweetbreads and the first meat was lamb kidney. But then I grew up loving chopped liver, so it all rather seems normal to me.
This next duck dish was fantastic, not nearly as much for the duck (which was good enough) but because how it all came together with the kumquat, peaches, and turnip.
The meal only kept getting better, I would not have guessed that the wheatgrass would work so well with the beef but it was just amazing.
Now, at this point I was full… and it was late. I had been out and about all day (more on that in a subsequent post), and I’ll admit I will usually do dinner on the earlier side compared to the locals of Buenos Aires. So I didn’t entirely want dessert, especially ‘cheese and sweet potatoes jam’.
I was more than pleasantly surprised. After a pallet cleanser:
Dessert came out, and it was spectacular:
Lunch at Chochan: A Great Neighborhood Place for… Meat
The last meal I’d have in my 60 hours in Buenos Aires was at Chochan, a 10 minute cab ride or so from the Park Hyatt.
Like so many other restaurants, they keep the doors locked. You go to the door, get someone’s attention, and they come and open up to let you in.
Once inside I found a small place, choices on a menu board, and I’d get to try more.. meat.
A quick, informal, delicious meal was perfect before heading back to the hotel to pack up for the airport.