Though I could opine for ages on the delectable treats we ate in Argentina, I'm gonna wrap things up with a few tips and resources for anyone planning a trip to this fabulous country. And if you are going, I'm sure you have extra room for me in your suitcase, right? Feel free to email if you have any questions: erinskitchen [at] gmail [dot] com.
Previous Buenos Aires posts: Best steak places; good coffee and breakfast; empanadas.
Don't Miss The...
House-made hard cider. After a hot morning of tromping around the city, this light, low-alcohol refresher will restore you for an afternoon of exploring. We enjoyed it at Bar Federal in San Telmo and Proscuitto in Monserrat.
Helados (ice cream). On practically every block you can find artisanal ice cream--made on the premises. My late afternoon staple was banana, a flavor I rarely find in the U.S.
Havanna alfajores. Havanna, a popular chain of cafes across the city, produces these traditional dulche de leche filled, chocolate covered cookies by the boxful. We snagged a bunch to share with our families at Christmas, and I'm struggling not to devour them right now.
What You Need to Know to Eat
- The tap water in Buenos Aires is safe to drink, but bottled water is cheap and ubiquitous. Decide whether you like "sin gas" (still) or "con gas" (fizzy), the first question you'll be asked at many a restaurant.
- Be ready to stay out late. Enter a restaurant before 8:30 pm, and you'll have the place to yourself.
- Make dinner reservations at the popular spots. Day-of reservations worked for us, and the front desk staff at our hotels were happy to help. Double check the hours, too--many spots close on Sunday and/or Monday.
Can you tell I'm an Americano while I enjoy my cafe con leche?
- Check please! Even if you chill out and shed your American impatience, you'll likely want the bill at some point--waitstaff don't automatically bring it. Learn: La cuenta, por favor.
- Entrada means starter, not entree. Had I known this, I wouldn't have ordered a spartan potato dish our one night in Lima, Peru. Most higher-end restaurants will have a menu in English if you ask.
- If you see the unfamiliar "cubierto" on your bill, that's a small service charge for dishes, silverware and bread. It doesn't replace a tip, which is typically 10%.
Buenos Aires Trip Planning
We used the Moon Handbooks Buenos Aires guide, Lonely Planet Buenos Aires, and Lonely Planet Argentina for our side trip to Puerto Iguazu. The Moon book had great info on day trips outside of BA and a useful set of neighborhood maps at the front. We also had the Wallpaper Buenos Aires guide, which directed us to a few good shopping spots and architectural marvels, but the dining section is for trendoids.
We split our hotel time between the Youkali Hotel in San Telmo/Monserrat and Malabia House in Palermo. Youkali had the most uncomfortable bed I've ever slept on in my life and horrible pillows, but it was a charming building and had a great breakfast. Malabia was lovely in absolutely every way and I would highly recommend it. In Puerto Iguazu, we stayed at the very respectable Park Hostel Iguazu, clean, comfy, spartan rooms.
All three hotels advertised the availability of airport transfers, but we were 2 for 4 on our trip. We scheduled with every place we stayed (including the fab Hotel Antigua Miraflores, our one-night-in-Lima spot), but only the Miraflores and the Hostel actually showed up. Wasn't a big problem, however, as getting a taxi (or the more expensive, supposedly safer "remise"--car service) was easy as pie.
The most fabulous bookstore in the world, El Ateneo Gran Splendid, a former theater. Lots of great Argentine cookbooks.
Buenos Aires Travel Blogs: This real-person travel blog site is an excellent place for general inspiration and excitement-building about your trip.
30 Things to Do in Buenos Aires: From expat blog Buenos Aires, City of Faded Elegance.
Argentina on two Steaks A Day: Vibrant portrait of dining in Buenos Aires.
Guille Buenos Aires: Overall good guide to the city for visitors.
The Empanada Trail: Expat blogger Saltshaker has a wealth of dining info on his site.