The Dining Scene in Argentina
Posted 14 June 2010 - 10:18 AM
There are a ton of topics already on recommendations for dining in Argentina, but I'd like to add my own take on the topic.
Last year, I had a fantastic opportunity to live for a semester in Argentina, studying in the local Universidad de Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, studying in Argentina was somewhat of a joke--no homework, classes only on two-three days a week, and in general very poor educational facilities/infrastructure (imagine buildings that are so worn down and so graffiti-laden that they look like they're unusable).
In turn, I had to find other ways of occupying my time and learning about the culture. My recourse was, among other things, the dining scene. Every week, I would go traveling, and along my travels I'd always hit up the specialties of the city's food scene. And since prices were so low, it was possible to go to the very best for the price of an average (or sometimes slightly above average) restaurant in Los Angeles, my hometown. Thus, in about four months, I was able to go through about twenty of the nation's best restaurants, taste over 100 wines, and try all of its best chocolate and gelato producers.
I'd like to share some of my experiences with all of you by posting up reviews every so often. If you have any requests for a specific type of cuisine or food, just tell me, and I'll try to make a recommendation.
Food and Wine Blogger
Posted 14 June 2010 - 10:22 AM
My cost: 360 pesos (About $105) for 4 young college students, with a ravenous appetite
Buenos Aires, Argentina
In terms of Argentine cuisine, you really canít do much better than the meat, which you can find fresh and cheap throughout the city. Very few steakhouses, however, have the reputation of La Cabrera, which is both a tourist haven and one of Buenos Airesís best culinary deals. La Cabrera is THE legendary steakhouse, the one that is supposedly not just the best in the city, but a historic landmark that any tourist must try. Needless to say, I had to try it out, and it was in fact my first expedition into Argentinaís culinary scene.
La Cabrera is oriented more towards the tourist, like a lot of the finer dining in the city (finer dining here should be interpreted very loosely. This verges on the casual). You can readily find Americans throughout the restaurant, which has a very charming, friendly, yet somewhat touristy vibe to it. So if you want a true Argentine experience, you really wonít find it here. Still, the restaurant was charming and the service so friendly that you feel rather comfortable, especially if you canít speak the language. And there are lots of nice little touches that add to experience. The meal even ends with complementary lollipops, presented on a large rack, hearkening back to your youth. And as far as higher-end dining goes, this is quite the casual place, avoiding formalities to create an inviting atmosphere. The service is slow, but rather friendly and very accommodating to foreigners.
La Cabrera, however, also delivers on the food. As far as value goes, itís quite possibly the best deal in town for a premium steakhouse, offering all of Argentinaís best cuts of meat for much lower than youíd find in some of the pricier tourist areas, like Puerto Madero. 500g of perfectly cooked Kobe beef, for instance, goes for about 80 pesos, or $23.The portions are so huge, moreover, that youíll be hard pressed to finish them. In fact, just 3 entrees fed myself and 3 of my friends, all of whom have large appetites.
As for the food, I canít say that La Cabrera is quite as legendary as all the myths say, but it is nonetheless quite good. The meat was always cooked extremely well, better than at most places, and the sides were fantastic. The ribeye probably canít be beaten, either. Though it was slightly overhyped, it is still a must for the price, even if itís not the best meal I had in Argentina.
Hits: Ojo de Bife (Ribeye, specialty of the house), Scrambled eggs with sausage, dulce de leche pancacke, chorizo, complementary limoncello and lollipops, bread, wine list, and service. Note that the ribeye was perhaps the best in all of Buenos Aires, which is an extraordinary feat considering how stiff the competition is in Argentina, since ribeye is one of the nationís favorite cuts.
Misses: Stuffed tenderloin, chocolate volcano, Kobe beef
Overall Score: 9.0/10
Source, with photos: http://www.thefoodbu...com/la-cabrera/
Food and Wine Blogger