Cafe, parrilla, pasta, vino, repeat — that’s pretty much what the buzzing Buenos Aires dining scene has been about for decades. Porteños have long been steak eaters, and many restaurant-going traditionalists don’t consider a meal legitimate unless heaps of grilled meats abound at the table. But in recent years, a new generation of gastronomes has looked beyond the parrilla (steakhouse) and sparked an interest in vegetable-centric dishes, pop-up pastry shops, vermouth and wine bars, worldly flavors, and reinvented comfort foods from Argentina’s past. That doesn’t mean you should skip the parrilla; just be sure to order your steak jugoso (medium rare) or it may come overcooked for some tastes.
This South American metropolis is home to people who love to go out to eat and drink, and the long government-enforced pandemic lockdown couldn’t puncture that passion. The hype is strongest in neighborhoods emerging as gastronomic hubs, especially Chacarita (and surrounding barrios like Colegiales, Villa Crespo, and Villa Ortúzar), where creative cooks are consistently pushing the boundaries of Argentine cuisine.
Porteños tend to be social beings and frequent cafes, restaurants, and bars at any hour of the day. It’s common to eat quite late, around 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., and restaurants won’t start serving cena (dinner) until at least 8 p.m. Be aware that service can arrive at a snail’s pace, and many places only accept efectivo (cash). Due to inflation and a rocky economy, prices and exchange rates for Argentine pesos are constantly changing, but anyone carrying foreign currency will generally find restaurants to be incredibly affordable.
Buenos Aires is a huge city with so many opportunities to eat well. No guide can be entirely comprehensive, but this list includes the city’s emblematic foods, most popular standbys, a few hidden gems, and some hot openings.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.
Prices per person, excluding alcohol*:
$ = Less than 1000 pesos (less than $10 USD)
$$ = 1,100 - 2,000 pesos ($11 - $20 USD)
$$$ = 2,100 - 2,900 pesos ($21 - $29 USD)
$$$$ = More than 3,000 pesos ($30 USD)
* These figures reflect the exchange rate at press time, though that rate fluctuates constantly. Spending on the ground may also reflect the unofficial “blue” (black market) rate.
Allie Lazar is a freelance writer blogging about food and restaurants in Buenos Aires.Read More