Buenos Aires restaurant reviews 2016

Staying in Palermo Soho allowed me to try a bunch of new restaurants with my tour. Of course, I have a few favorites from other years that I revisited, but I don't usually stay in this area of town, so I have some new favorites!

Lobo Cafe

Honduras 4730, C1414BML CABA (Website: http://lobo.cafe/)

Food was not cheap, but it was plentiful. Here's Al's lunch the first day he got to Buenos Aires. I think he went there every morning for breakfast. The waitresses would tell me if they had seen him when I walked past! The waitress picture is Laura, who was there every day and enjoyed practicing her English when Spanish fell through for folks.

By the way, this is supposed to be a slide show, but I can't get it to work correctly. If you click on the photo, the next one comes up. I'll fix it as soon as I learn how :-)

 

Ninina

Gorriti 4738, Buenos Aires (Website: http://ninina.com/)

Ninina was Jessica's favorite hangout. Again, not cheap, but wow! Here is where I learned that the Argentine word for "kale" was...ready for it? "Kale." They had amazing juices of veggies and fruit that knocked my socks off. Their coffee was great. Their salads were great. As I can't eat wheat, I have no idea how yummy all the beautiful cakes and pastries were, but they were gorgeous. Wifi meant that a lot of Argentine dot-commers were there with their computers, downing coffee and chattering away.

If anyone else took pictures here, I will add them in. I guess I was too busy drinking kale, ginger and whatever else was in it, juice!

 

Almacén Purista

Juan Ramírez de Velazco 701, C1414AQO (website: http://www.almacenpurista.com/

I ate here last year as well, but I don't think I reviewed it. Where in the USA can you eat lunch for three hours without the waitresses trying to get you to pay and leave? I love Buenos Aires.

The waitpeople were very "on" it about whether there was gluten in each item on the menu. I felt very confident that I was not eating wheat, which makes me enjoy eating out a WHOLE lot more than other places.

This place has a focus on natural food. It has a huge menu of all kinds of food, which is a bit unorganized. Yummy, and halfway between our hotel and Silvana's, so it was easy for everyone.

 

Calden del Soho

Honduras 4701, C1414BMK CABA, Argentina (Website: http://www.caldendelsoho.com.ar/)

I only ate here once, but it was a favorite of the more carnivorous of our crowd (being married to a vegetarian has changed my eating habits!). Again, there was more food than should be eaten at once, but that did not seem to stop us.

The waiter can recite an entire table of people's orders and drinks from memory. Impressive! We also got free champagne at the end of the meal because he liked us. This is another slide show where you need to click on the photo until I learn how to do this. Sorry!

El Patio de Montevideo: yummy, yummy, yummy!!

Montevideo 387 (right off of Corrientes)

We went to this place with our friends Sara and Kent. Amazingly huge portions for great prices seems to be the aim of this place. We had sausage appetizers, salad, squash puree, rice, potato tortilla (for the vegetarian) and large steaks for three, for $51. We were too full to have dessert and could barely finish what we ordered. That is for FOUR people! Go there!

Sans Armenia Tapas Bar and Restaurant: gluten free beware!

Costa Rica 4602, C1414BSJ CABA (website: https://www.facebook.com/Sans-Armenia-Deli-Drinks-142825765788273/

This was somewhere that many of the tour members ate. They enjoyed it. I had a hard time here, as I told them I was celiac, and they brought me a meal they said did not have wheat in it. Just before I took a bite, I smelled it, and it smelled like soy sauce: WHEAT! They agreed that it had soy sauce in it and offered to replace the meal. After insisting that I couldn't eat wheat and then avoiding eating it by luck, I decided not to eat. Not a good night for me.

 

La Popular de Soho: 3rd choice for evening, but good

Guatemala 4701 (Website: https://www.facebook.com/lapopularfutbol/)

We got off the train from Tigre very tired and hungry. We tried to eat at Sintaxis, but they were full until closing. We tried to eat at Don Julio's, but they had a waitlist. Very low blood sugar by this point (as in crying), my friends dragged me across the street to La Popular. We had a fabulously large dinner. I had a roasted chicken quarter, "rustic" potatoes and some wine, along with salad that other people couldn't finish. Yum. By the end, I felt very happy and back in one piece. Note to self: eat sooner!!!

 

MezCal

Costa Rica 4502, C1414BSH CABA

On the corner of Costa Rica and Malabia, overlooking the Plaza Armenia, MezCal was a before-dinner drinks favorite with some of the tour members. Great people-watching (and probably great food, but I never ate there) if you sit at the outside tables. When I ordered a Campari, it came in about a 12-ounce glass. Eek.

 

Gluten-free happiness

Sintaxis

Nicaragua 4849, 1414 Palermo (Website: http://www.sintaxispalermo.com/

As I have already waxed poetic about Sintaxis in last year's posts, I won't go on here. I ate here a few times over the two weeks of the tour, and took munchies with me each time to tide me over between trips.

I tried some new meals here. The empanadas were very good. The torta pascualina was excellent. The ravioles were exquisite. I think I tried every limonada they had, with my favorite being the maracuya (passion fruit) one. I discovered that they had savory rolls and little cheese biscuits to go that were super-yummy.

 

Almacen de Pizza

C1414, Malabia 1825, C1414 CABA, Argentina (website: http://www.almacendepizzas.com/2012/index.php)

GLUTEN FREE PIZZA! Ok, most of what they had was not gluten-free, BUT:

This was the only place where they came out with specially wrapped plates and utensils to ensure that they had not been contaminated with wheat!!!!! Those of you who are not celiac or gluten-sensitive have no idea how much this means to me. I accidentally got "glutened" at least twice during the trip, despite taking gluten enzymes at each meal. I didn't eat for about 24 hours because I was afraid to get glutened again. Sitting down to a clean plate and utensils, and a little pizzeta, made my stomach relax enough to feel hungry and enjoy eating.

 

Buenos Aires Tango Tour: designed for YOU!

Not your normal tango tour!

This is not your normal group tango tour! This tour is designed for people who don’t want to go to Buenos Aires alone, but don’t want to be shackled to a group 24-7. As folks are signing up, I am incorporating their requests into my plan. If you want to go everywhere together in a group, this is probably not the right choice for you. If you are more adventurous, or looking for something really special, this is for you.

This tour will be limited to twelve people. I feel that you deserve quality work from me, and that means individual attention and help. One spot has already been reserved. There is no minimum number of people: we are going!!

What do YOU want to do in Buenos Aires?

I have been going to Buenos Aires since 1999. Those visits have provided me with a lot of local information, friends, contacts, knowledge of the dance scene, and love for the city. I am putting all of that experience to work for YOU!

This is a tour tailored to your personal goals for Buenos Aires:

·        Do you want to dance every day/night? I can help you choose the best places for you to dance, based on your level, your dance goals, etc., and help you make reservations to get decent seating.

·        Do you want to find group or private tango lessons? I will help you make appropriate choices, get you there, and even help you locate a practice partner/dance partner if you want one.

·        Do you want a “taxi dancer” (Buenos Aires dancer who accompanies you to milongas)? I have several good sources for great folks who won’t cheat you on prices.

·        Do you want to see the sights? I will organize daily excursions to fun places that you can choose to do, or do your own thing. I will also be organizing trips to folk dancing, museums, Teatro Colon, and other cool places you don't want to miss!

·        Do you want a Spanish tutor? I will find one for you!

·        Do you want to a cultural exchange? My friend (who is an English professor) is coordinating with me to give her students chances to practice English, while YOU get a native tour guide around the city.

·        Do you want to shop until you drop? I can aim you in the right direction, go to shoe stores with you and translate for you, etc. The “outlet mall” area and wholesale district are nearby!

The dates: Dec. 2-12

I am timing the tour to coincide with the National Day of Tango is December 11 (Carlos Gardel’s birthday). To celebrate, they hold a huge street party between the Congress building and the Casa Rosada (the president’s house), with live bands, dancing in the street and performances. I went in 2012 and 2015, and had fun both times. As it occurs right before summer solstice, everyone is out celebrating the start of summer as well. If you want to come a day early, or stay after the tour, etc., that is up to you; the dates can be semi-flexible.

Cost

Last year, I spent two weeks in Buenos Aires, researching hotels, locating the best current milongas, trying out teachers, and finding a good neighborhood for us to stay. I will be available 24-7 during your ten days in Buenos Aires, as well as making shoe shopping trips, milonga excursions, etc. available each day for you! It’s a lot of work, but I am excited to share my favorite city and dance with all of you, and I want you to have the best possible experience of Buenos Aires, so that you want to go back on your own!

The cost is $1200/person for my services during the trip, my pre-planning, and any individual scheduling and help that you need before and during the trip. You will pay the hotel, airfare, food, tango shoes etc., on your own.

If cost is an issue, please talk to me before deciding not to go.

Flights

I usually fly through Houston, as that is the fastest flight time. Usually, Economy is fine. However, I suggest that you DO NOT buy Economy on the United Dreamliner: I upgraded to Economy Plus on the way home, which was OK. I know some of the people planning to go have miles saved on various airlines. I willmake sure you get from Ezeiza Airport to the hotel, but it's up to you to get to Argentina :-)

Visa

There is no visa needed to visit Argentina as a tourist for under 90 days, BUT it is now required that you pay a reciprocity fee before leaving the USA. Luckily, this is much easier than it used to be. You can buy it via the Argentine Embassy online. The cost is $160 USD, and it is good for ten years. You will need proof of buying your visa in order to board the plane to Argentina. Lots of information is available from the U.S. government online.

Airport transport

I will make sure you get picked up at the airport by a reliable person. If you can arrange to fly at the same time as someone else, you can split the cost. It cost $45 in 2015, and will probably be about that. You can pay in dollars or pesos.  I will also set up your return trip to the airport when you leave, unless you prefer to do so yourself.

The hotel

I will be staying at 5 Cool Rooms in Palermo. I suggest you also make reservations at 5 Cool Rooms (Honduras 4742, C1414BJV Buenos Aires, Argentina) via Expedia or another travel website. It is air-conditioned, has free breakfast (which can be gluten-free), a Jacuzzi and 24-hr. front desk security. It is near Starbucks for those of you who need your American hit of home (& second free WiFi spot). We can walk to 5-6 milongas in the neighborhood. There is a gluten-free restaurant/bakery nearby, and tons of little restaurants! If you prefer something more exclusive (there are some very lovely, very expensive hotels nearby) or something cheaper (AirBnB), I can help you make good choices about locations.

Bits and pieces that haven't fit in anywhere

Good massage place

Marta Rey does reflexology, massage, facials, moxibustion, etc., and has those strange but very nice Korean massage beds that roll your spine for you. I tried it once, and Gayle is back getting everything loosened up for the flight home. Both of us really liked how our backs and feet felt afterwards. Marta speaks some English. You can reach her to set up a time (you will need 2.5-3 hours for the whole works) at 4951-6755; 4953-7223; or 15-4061-3232. All numbers that start with 15- are mobile numbers. The other two are her work phone and her home phone; I am not sure which, but try the first one first. She is at Rivadavia 1966, 3rd floor, Apt. A (in Congreso). We got a deal for being friends of friends, so I am not sure of the price, but I think it's around 120ish pesos. Tipping is nice.

Good pedicure and hair place

Claudio Zappulla, Ayacucho 57 (also in Congreso) was hopping when we went in to schedule pedicures: we had to wait two days! Some friends get their hair done here, too, and vouch for the stylists. I don't know if they speak English, but the pedicure person did not. They aren't afraid to remove callus here. If you haven't had a pedicure outside the USA, don't panic when they start shaving callus off (last year, at another place, the girl broke open a disposable razor and used a blade from it; at this place, at least they have the right tools!). The little sander-like tool made everything supersmooth, but I'm very ticklish, so it was a bit of a torture for me. However, my feet felt GREAT afterwards. I think it was 75 pesos for the most thorough pedicure I've ever had. Telephone: 4953-6584.

Nice leather products

We wandered into a few leather stores, as my handbag started to disintegrate a week into our stay (it's "Ecoleather" aka vinyl). Camila Cueros, Lavalle 741, had pushy salespeople, but very good quality leather. The prices seemed high to me because I don't buy leather in the USA, but Gayle assured me that the prices were really good deals, compared to prices at home.

Good ice cream

Cadore Gelato Artigianale, Av. Corrientes 1695. I already mentioned this place last year, but I went back. I REALLY like their gelato!

Shoe repair

I think I already said this, but I'll put it here, too. Sarmiento 1882, half a block away from Neotango Shoes. They can get stuff done fast: they put croma on Gayle's shoes between yesterday afternoon and 9 am today. Fast, good service and repair.

My new favorite clothing store for tango: Tango-Imagin

Tango-Imagen Anchorena 606, tel,. 4864-3847, email: jazmin.tangoimagen@gmail.com, is next to Tango 8, and I hadn't seen it before. However, the nice ladies at Susana Artesanal steered us that way after we couldn't find what we wanted at their store. What a nice place (both). At Tango-Imagen, three people do the cutting and sewing and selling, so they know the fabrics, they know what they have, and they can take special orders. They have a mix of performance stuff, going out to dance clothing, and practice clothing.

The man who helped us makes most of the pants they sell, but he was able to look at how one outfit fit Gayle and suggest another one because the fabric was stretchier. It only came in one size fits all, but that stretchier one was perfect, and she bought it. Pretty designs, nice fabrics--how can you lose? Check them out! Buy their clothing!

Favorite seafood restaurant

La Gran Taberna, Combate de los Pozos 95 (esq. Hipolito Yrigoyen), has things from quite cheap to very expensive. We went on the less expensive side, and stuffed ourselves. What I really like about this place: the waiter took our order, and then said, "Look, that's too much food for the two of you. What if you share one order of the fish, along with your salad and sauted asparagus?" Where else would they suggest you order less of the most expensive part of your meal? Also, we ordered two glasses of wine, and the waiter brought us a bottle: he said that, if we shared a third glass of wine, it would be the same price as the whole bottle. Now that is service! We helped the waiters with their English homework, too. They have a second door on Combate de los Pozos that is their take-out service. Yum! Reservations: 4951-7586.

Slightly cheaper, nice place

Puenta Cuore Restaurant, Rivadavia and Ayacucho (in Congreso), had nice salads. I had an excellent merluza (fish) and steamed veggie meal. Gayle had yummy pasta. The restaurant is on a corner, and it was fun to people watch. The waiter was attentive.

Vegetarian possibilities

There are a lot more vegetables in restaurants than ten years ago. Also, I found three vegetarian restaurants in the area between Lavalle and Corrientes; between Callao and Junin. I didn't try any of them. Sorry, Geofrey! I know you wanted more information.

Gluten and life in Bs As

If you don't eat gluten, eating out is almost impossible if you are also a vegetarian. I opted for eating more meat than usual, and went off my gluten-free lifestyle. Thank goodness I'm not allergic! Many people said they had heard that some people can't eat gluten, but I didn't meet anyone who said they were gluten-intolerant or allergic to gluten. They don't eat in restaurants here, I bet!

Miscellaneous thoughts

1. Song I don't have that I wish I had bought: Di Sarli's Volver a Sonar. At least that's what the DJ Sunday at Canning wrote down for me. Hey, I still have a few hours!

2.  Our taxi driver one night would need to change his name to emigrate to the USA: on the placard showing his license, etc., it claimed that his last name was Moron. I kid you not.

3.  I think American milongas would be better if we kept the idea of a set or two of something different, interpersed during the evening. I love having a chacarera set and a set of "tropical" (cumbia, salsa, merengue) during the evening to relax my body, take a break from concentrating, and enjoy the other dances that I love. I would accept a set of "rock 'n roll" as long as it wasn't all Dixieland jazz (a bit overplayed here) or Elvis (don't get me wrong: I love him, but too much is too much).

 

More cool places to go and stuff to do in Buenos Aires!

I keep thinking of information about Buenos Aires and adding it to my blog. Here is another installment.

Shows

As I never seem to have money available for tango shows (and prefer dancing to watching), I had never been to a tango show in Buenos Aires before this year. However, my main teachers, Oscar Mandagaran and Georgina Vargas, are kick-ass stage performers, along with being fabulous dancers in the milongas. I went to the show at Esquina Carlos Gardel to see them. Most of the sweet young things (SYTs) were pretty to watch. Oscar and Georgina were amazing--ever think you saw fire and smoke sizzle off of performers? I think I did!--and Pocho Pizarro did his famous broom dance, which was even better than on YouTube. He had as much stage presence as all the SYTs put together! If you like to watch show tango, or if you have non-dancing friends headed for Buenos Aires, this is a classy place to have dinner and enjoy the show, and other folks told me that they consider this the best show in town.

If you are going to be in Buenos Aires for long enough to contemplate taking nights off to do things other than dancing, check out the great programs at the Centro Cultural Borges, Viamonte, esq. San Martin. There are great shows there (and tango classes, etc.). I didn't get to see the entire flamenco show featured in January and February, but I was lucky enough to see some of the performers from Entre Mi Sangre Y Mi Tierra when they showed up at TangoQueer to promote their show. WOW! Some of the best flamenco dancing I have seen. Centro Cultural Torcuato Tasso, on Defensa, also has shows and classes, again quite reasonable in price.

Food

My favorite place to eat in Buenos Aires is Pedro Telmo, Bolivar 962, in San Telmo. It has good pizza, empanadas, baked pasta, etc. It is inexpensive and filling. However, the reason it is my FAVORITE place is because of La Negra, the proprietor. She's getting up there in years (no idea, but she reminds me of my grandmother), and she is everyone's Mama. I spent three months eating lunch there almost every day (close to my dive hotel, cheap, warm) about ten years ago. La Negra bossed me around, fussed if I didn't eat all of it, and generally made me feel happy and cared for during two cold winters.

Confiteria La Opera, Av. Corrientes 1789 (Corrientes y Callao) was the closest cafe to where we stayed this time. I remembered their yummy coffee from my other visits, and they have free Wi-Fi (email downloads!), so we made this our standard breakfast coffee place. They happily adjusted their omelettes to my traveling companions request (combining the ham and cheese omelet with the omelet with verduras), and got used to seeing us at all strange, random hours of the day and night. On our last night in Bs As, we told the waiter they wouldn't be seeing us until our next visit, and he refused our tip and brought us each a free glass of wine. Very unexpected, as they are nice, correct waiters and stayed out of our hair for the most part.

Chiquilín, Sarmiento 1599, esp. Montevideo, is open from noon to 2 am every day. It is more expensive than the other places we went, but it was nice to play hooky from tango for a night and pig out. I had the bife de lomo, medium rare; a salad; wine; and flan (my usual). I can't remember how much it cost, but it was above budget, and worth it! My travel companion happily checked email, as there is free Wi-Fi.

Gijon, Chile 1402 (Chile y San Jose), is a neighborhood parrilla. It was stuffed full of folks from the neighborhood, watching the football game and eating. The price is right (MUCH lower than the other parrillas we went to) for good food. The wine sucked, but we ordered the house wine, so . . .  The flan was delicious, as was the salad and steak I had. Warning: closed on Sundays!

Chan Chan, Hipólito Yrigoyen 1390, is a neighborhood Peruvian restaurant. The food was cheap and delicious. It's just around the corner from La Nacional, and we went after dancing. Our friends had been there many times, and the entire wait staff kindly served us and waited until we were done (the absolute last to come in and order) with patience and friendly smiles. I had amazing fish stew. If you like Peruvian food, you will love this place!

Quorum, Combate de los Pozos 61, is right behind the Congreso building, and has an all-you-can-eat format, including salads, cold cuts, veggies, a dessert bar (flan oh my god), and a HUGE grill at the back. Phone for reservations: 4951-0855. Prices are reasonable but not cheap (32-43 pesos a person, depending on day of the week and whether it's lunch or dinner, with reduced prices for kids) and the food is very good.

Is it OK to write about restaurants that I wish I had visited? Sarkis, Thames 1101, is a WONDERFUL Arab and Armenian restaurant that I visited years ago with an Argentine friend. We debated going there this time, but ended up at a different place due to time constraints (see next). It is not super cheap, but you will end up eating so much that you hurt, if you like this kind of food. Yummy yummy yummy!!!!

Bodega Campo, Rodríguez Peña 264, was our chosen spot to meet this year because it was between our houses and both of us had appointments afterwards. This was not amazing, but the food was good and the price was, too. It has a western feeling to the decor, a tango show in the evenings (a strange combo), and a good wine cellar. The empanadas were not on the menu, but were produced when we requested them (very good!), along with salad. My friend says that the locro is very good here (a bean stew with unmentionable cow innards in it that tastes wonderful and looks a bit strange to this ex-vegetarian).

Music

I admit it: I love Zival's, on the corner of Corrientes and Callao (subte stop: Callao). It didn't help that I was staying a block away. I'm still impressed with myself for limiting the number of CDs I bought!

What I love about Zival's is the knowledgeable staff. I walked up to ask questions about good milonga CDs, and the counter person called for another guy to come over. I told him what I already had, and he made some suggestions to augment my collection. He could tell me what CDs they had, whether the sound quality was good or not, and was able to find them for me in about a minute. Wow!

I also like their system (installed since my last visit) that allows you to listen to every cut on most of their available music. This really helped in selecting music for my sweetie, who prefers electronic tango music (not my strong point). I listened to ten albums before choosing two. I now hear those two albums daily ;-)

I wandered into several other stores and bought music, but only Zival's had someone who knew tango well (I'm sure other stores do, too, but not the ones I went to!). You can order from Zival's online (see link above).

Books

If you are looking for something to read, and don't read Spanish, toddle over to one of these two bookstores that stocked with English books:

Rincon 9 and Junin 74 (both named after their addresses)

They appear to cater to teachers of English, English and American literature (and also current fiction) and children's books. I found some nice books on Buenos Aires architecture and social history for my sweetie. The store personnel speak at least some English, and are VERY helpful.

Ways to get from the airport to the city

Vicky Ayer's friend, Luis, arranged for our transport to and from the airport. I don't have his phone number, but Vicky can set you up with him. His son took us back to the airport, and was very chatty and nice.  Luis' friend, Graciela Guido, picked us up; she also runs her own airport pickup and rents an apartment in Palermo Soho to visitors. She seemed really nice, although we did not see the apartment. I don't think she speaks any English, but we had a rolicking conversation in Spanish. You can contact her at ipedeargentina @ hotmail.com or 1540639799 (mobile) or 4573-5597 (land line).

Street Art

One of the artists displaying their wares along Humberto Primo in San Telmo, caught the eye of my traveling companion. You could see that the artist had talent (which I can't say for all of the artists selling there). Mirtha Ruix paints and does india ink and paint works. She is also a teacher. I couldn't find any pictures of her work online, but if you go to the street fair, look for her portly husband selling paintings/india ink work that involves pretty cats, women, etc.

Luggage

If you buy too many pairs of shoes, you may find yourself shopping for luggage (in the end, we fitted everything in, but it was close). Pinco Pinco, Av. Corrientes 2250, was your standard Once retail/wholesale kinda place, but the owner was both helpful and funny ("Buy some luggage, feed my children! Stimulate the economy!"). He gave honest opinions about the quality of the available bags (if you want super cheap, this is it; if you want something that will last, this medium price bag is better made than the one you are looking at, etc.).

Cheap pants and Tshirts

Basicos, Rivadavia 2297, had pants, skirts and shirts for very reasonable prices (30 pesos for a Tshirt, with 3.8 pesos to the dollar). They were not very friendly, but if you need some more clothes, there they are. I really like the harem-style pants I bought there. They do NOT have a changing room, but you can exchange sizes (they looked at us, handed us clothes, and the clothes fit--no need to exchange).