Buenos Aires – Recoleta – Places to Eat and Drink
This post is primarily for my colleagues who are usually billeted in Recoleta at the Hotel Sileo at Azcuénaga 1968, www.sileohotel.com It’s an excellent hotel with helpful staff, a decent breakfast and big rooms that overlook the back of Recoleta cemetery (for which see my separate post). The best views are from the roof which also has a postage stamp sized swimming pool.
Generally after a hard day’s work we just want to go to the nearest place that’s any good. The problem is there are so many restaurants in the area to choose from and many are either expensive tourist traps or aren’t much cop in terms of the food they serve. So where to go?
All of the places mentioned in my posts on Buenos Aires can be found on this Google map.
Rodi Bar (Intermediate B), 1900 Vicente Lopez (four blocks from the hotel)
This is an old school, traditional place that’s very near the hotel. It’s very popular with locals living in the area so arrive early or reserve. The food is good value and unpretentious, nothing amazing but fine for every day dining.
On my last visit I had the unattractive but nutritious Sopa Verduras Mines (veg soup) followed by the simple Bondiola con Guarnicion (pork loin with salad and chips), both of which scored a B. With a bottle of Norton Classico (B+) for $75 and a glass of Bols Limoncello (B) the bill came to $335 or £17.
Roux (Advanced A), 2300 Pena (four blocks from the hotel) rouxresto.com
To get to this place turn right out of the Sileo Hotel and keep walking straight. It’s on the far left hand corner of the fourth crossroads you come to.
Also popular with locals, this is a small bistro with excellent service offering beautifully-crafted French-inspired dishes at a very reasonable price considering what you get. Two of us had three courses with a bottle of wine and a digestif for $500 each, about £40. Of course you could eat and spend less but we pushed the boat out as the food was so good (unusual in Argentina).
The croquettes (chicken, cheese and mushroom I think) were some of the best I’ve ever had (A+) and my twice cooked saffron squid risotto with alioli was a work of art and completely delicious (A). My friend’s humita stuffed quail with crispy cannellonis also looked great. There were a couple of my favourite Torrontes white wines on the menu but we went for a new one (Crios 2014 for $150) which was excellent (A).
My dessert involved Quinotos (kumquats) with a pineapple sorbet and a very delicate slice of crystallised orange. Once again pretty as a picture and very tasty too (A). My friends apple and cinnamon crumble with apple sorbet was great too.
To finish I finally got to try the hard-to-find Hesperadina ($85 a shot), an Argentine liqueur made from orange peel and served in a chilled glass without ice. Originally created by Italian immigrants, it’s considered a drink for the older generation and so is quite hard to find. I loved it; the kids are definitely missing out.
El Sanjuanino (Intermediate B), 1515 Posadas (six blocks from the hotel) www.elsanjuanino.com.ar
A regional restaurant specialising in cuisine from the province of San Juan, which is apparently slightly spicier than elsewhere, although I didn’t notice this. The food is hearty and simple, again nothing amazing but filling and inexpensive. They specialise in empanadas which I can definitely recommend (B+). My lentil and chorizo stew and accompanying salad were also fine (B) if rather too large to finish. We enjoyed the Alamos 2013 Malbec too. (B+). Upstairs was full when we arrived so we were put in the slightly gloomy basement. The friendly service made up for this though.
Cumana (Intermediate B+), 1149 Rodriguez Pena (nine blocks from the hotel)
This is a very popular place that attracts a fairly young crowd of locals, perhaps due to the well-priced food and wine and the modern atmosphere. There are bowls of crayons on each table so you can doodle on the paper tablecloths while you wait for your food!
I tried the Locro , an interesting Andean stew (B) originally from Ecuador but also popular in Peru and Argentina. It’s made here I think with cannellini beans, pumpkin, chunks of chorizo and pork on the bone and topped with a spoonful of Quiquirimichi, a mild red sauce made from red peppers and paprika. Great comfort food and very tasty. The Ensalada de Tomates y Bocconcinos (small balls of mozzarella, covered with shredded basil was ok (C+) but half the tomato was unripe and the mozzarella didn’t have much flavour. I also had a Pinguino (a typical Argentinian penguin-shaped wine jug) of house red, which was rough but drinkable (C). Total spend $72.50, about £11, which is very cheap for BsAs.
La Cholita (Intermediate B+), Rodriguez Pena 1165 (nine blocks from the hotel)
This place is right next door to Cumana above and is apparently owned by the same people. Five of us had a delicious mixed grill here which was very good value for money (B+). As next door, the house wine was pretty ropey though (C-) so I splurged on something better. Worth a visit if you’re on a budget.
There’s a decent bar on the first floor of the building exactly opposite La Cholita called Casabar at 1150 Pena www.casabarargentina.com. You’ll recognise it by the round window above the door.
Milion (A), Parana 1048 (ten blocks from the hotel) www.milion.com.ar
This is a great bar and restaurant in a beautiful old villa. You can sit outside in the garden to eat although I’ve never dined here. My friend’s cocktail ‘Yo No Tengo Un San Valentin’ (made with Bacardi) was nice (B) but the Pisco Sour (D) was the worst I’ve ever had! Don’t let that put you off though, it’s a beautiful spot. Cocktails were $95 to $75 when we went.
Grand Bar Danzon (B+), 1161 Libertad (eleven blocks from the hotel) www.granbardanzon.com.ar
The entrance is very easy to miss as it’s through a narrow doorway and up a staircase.
Not actually as grand as the name implies, but still a posh cocktail bar with a fantastic wine list (starting at £2 a glass) and a nice atmosphere with lots of comfy sofas. My only complaint is the candles and lights are so low you can’t read the menu.
On the cocktail front I particularly recommend the ‘Sourama’ made with Pisco (a spirit from Chile), maracuya (passion fruit), a dash of apple juice and served in a champagne glass with the rim dipped in sugar. Absolutely sublime! (A+). The food is supposed to be good too, although I haven’t tried it.
There are of course many other restaurants and cafes in the area, the most attractive being those opposite the cemetery entrance. Personally I think they’re all overpriced tourist traps, as the touts outside demonstrate, and the food is often sub-standard. But who cares on a sunny day when you want somewhere to sit in the sun with a drink and rest your feet while watching the world go by. The best place to do this is the terrace of La Biela at 600 Avenida Quintela www.labiela.com which rivals Bar Tortoni (see my Avenida da Mayo post) as the most iconic café in town.
El Cuartito (Intermediate A or C!), 937 Talcahuano (twelve blocks from the hotel)
Actually in Tribunales, a neighbourhood adjoining Recoleta, this is one of the oldest pizzerias in the city (since 1934). It certainly looks the part with a huge woody interior, pictures of football teams and old Buenos Aires all over the walls and towering stacks of pizza boxes.
Sadly though the pizza just doesn’t cut it for me but then I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to these Italian pies. I like my Margheritas very thin and simple and the local Fugazzetta (a style derived from Genoese focaccia, particular to Buenos Aires) with its cheese-filled dough topped with grated onions, is exactly the opposite.
The ‘Margherita’ I had here was small in diameter but very thick and smothered in a thick layer of ‘muzzarella’ (probably from cow’s milk and not the real thing, yellow and gloopy in the wrong way), no basil and a handful of unasked for green olives, very unsubtle.
Still, what do I know, the place was rammed by 11pm and it gets great reviews from everyone (locals, blogs, guides) except me. The big bottle of Patagonia ‘amber’ lager I had with it was ok though, much better than anything I had in southern Patagonia. Total cost, about £10. By all means go, you might like it. They do Empanadas too.