How to Eat Argentine Food like a Porteño
The lights are dim and sultry, melancholy music fills the air of Buenos Aires. Men and women are pressed together, and couples intricately weave amongst one another wordlessly. The men’s fedoras and slacks are reminiscent of a gentlemanly formality that has long since passed. The women’s sequined gowns, showing sleek backs toned from dance, shimmer and seem made for the setting. Nothing quite like it exists anywhere else in the world, and few scenes are more captivating.
At La Catedral, located on Sarmiento 4006 (the corner of Medrano), professional tango dancers intermix with amateur dance enthusiasts. For the low price of AR$45, some of the best dancers in the world give off-the-cuff performances, and during the open dance period, anyone is free to join in with them. For those who prefer to sit on the sidelines, the Malbec is cheap and the steak is delicious. The ambiance of the old warehouse building gives the proper authentic feel.
After a long night of tango, a hearty brunch is called for. The exploding food scene in Buenos Aires caters to all types, and the Bloody-Mary-loving yanquis (the affectionate moniker for anyone who hails from north of Mexico) are chief among them. Head to Olsen (Gorriti 5870), in the upscale district of Palermo Soho, and don’t forget to wear expensive sunglasses. The posh and beautiful crowd the stunning outdoor garden, lounging in comfortable chairs and enjoying the sound of the large water sculpture. Prepare to be awed by the minimalist Scandinavian décor, and don’t miss their unique smorgasbord appetizer.
The feature of the meal is of course the world-renowned Argentine steak (be sure to order it al punto—anything more than medium-rare and scowls will darken the faces of everyone within earshot) but they have so much more to offer.
After a lengthy brunch, embrace the tradition of the midday siesta. It will be needed, as Argentines rarely do anything before 10 p.m. and never call it a night until 5 a.m. Once awake, head to a local panadería and gobble down some empanadas before starting the night. If something more filling is required, a full dinner at Don Julio (Guatemala 4699) awaits.
The feature of the meal is of course the world-renowned Argentine steak (be sure to order it al punto—anything more than medium-rare and scowls will darken the faces of everyone within earshot) but they have so much more to offer. The sweet corn empanadas will melt in your mouth, and the deliciously grilled provoleta (hot cheese straight off the grill) will be gone within seconds of hitting the table. Utilize the servers’ almost encyclopedic knowledge of wine when choosing the right Malbec to accompany the meal.
Enjoy a café con leche while digesting, then head to Rey de Copas (Gorriti 5176.) Inside, people sprawl out on an eclectic mix of vintage sofas and rugs, with aged wood tables and candlelight. If the weather is accommodating, head upstairs to their beautiful ivy-covered patio. Order the mate-infused gin cocktail, served in a large glass with a traditional bombilla (the metal straw used to consume the Argentine national drink of yerba mate.)
Keep up with your Argentine pals for a few more hours. Across the street is Soria, which becomes a lively hotspot once the more tame establishments close down. Now is the time for the cheap beer and cocktails—and don’t forget to hydrate. When the sun begins to rise, collapse into a cab and confidently tell the taxista your address—you’re a porteño now.