No visit to Buenos Aires is complete without a juicy steak from one of the city’s famous steakhouses; a slice of Argentine, cheese-heavy pizza; or a bowl of perfectly al dente homemade pasta influenced by the country’s rich Italian heritage. Known as the “Three P’s,” these food staples are consumed on a daily basis by locals and tourists alike. From the city’s hundreds of restaurants that we’ve personally tried (I know, hard work!), we picked our favorite on-the-radar restaurant for each “P” as well as an off-the-beaten-track spot. We hope you give at least one of them a try the next time you’re in Buenos Aires.
On-the-radar - La Cabrera: You will find this steakhouse listed in pretty much every Buenos Aires’-related guide book, magazine, newsletter, blog and even this New York Time “36 Hours in Buenos Aires” feature. Famous for its big portions, delicious sides and tough (if entertaining) service staff, La Cabrera is perennially full of out-of-towners. You can make reservations for one of its two locations (which are just a block away from each other in the trendy Palermo Soho neighbourhood), but be prepared to wait nonetheless. We recommend the tortilla, thyme scented lomo (tenderloin) or the mollejas (sweetbreads). Insider’s tip: Go for lunch, when the wait time is shorter or from 7:00-8:00pm when the menu is half off.
Off-the-beaten track – Parrilla Peña: Located in Buenos Aires’ downtown district, you don’t go to this no-frills neighborhood parrilla for the ambiance, you go there for the beef. Parrilla Peña is filled with locals and regulars who go there for their affordable cuts of meat and friendly service (which is a rare find in Buenos Aires!). The empanada served as an amuse bouche is a delicious start and sets the tone for the rest of the meal.
On-the-radar – El Cuartito: This classic Argentine pizzeria was opened in 1934 and is one of the oldest in the city. Tourists flock to this spot to soak in the eclectic décor (walls covered in movie posters, Boca Junior pennants and boxing paraphernalia) and to taste the country’s traditional style of pizza which features a buttery crust and gobs of cheese. The restaurant regularly has lines of people waiting out the door but it’s worth the wait to grab a table and a thick slice of muzzarella.
Off-the-beaten track – Las Cuartetas: While Las Cuartetas is a bit more basic than El Cuartito, we find that simple is sometimes the best way to go. It’s one of those places you don’t want to share with visitors for fear “it might become overrun by tourists.” Be ready to share tables with strangers in order to get a seat at this feisty establishment. We suggest ordering a fugazzeta pie (pizza with mozzarella, onions, oregano and olive oil), cooked bien crocante (crispy) and an ice cold mug of Quilmes, Argentina’s national beer of choice.
On-the-radar – Il Matterello: Due to its location in La Boca, a touristy area known for its pedestrian street lined with colourful homes and the famous Boca Junior soccer stadium, Il Matterello is regularly full of visitors interested in tasting a bit of Argentina’s Italian heritage. The homemade pasta is that of which you’d expect your friend’s Italian grandmother to prepare. We highly recommend ordering the hearty lasagna and finishing the meal with the house tiramisu.
Off-the-beaten track – Il Ballo del Mattone: From the outside, Il Ballo del Mattone doesn’t look like your average Italian trattoria. Owned and decorated by a collective of local artists, the walls are covered in pops of colourful graffiti. The inside of the restaurant has an edgier onda (vibe) than Il Matterello, but serves equally as delicious Italian fare, with the menu changing nightly.
Argentina, Buenos Aires