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Economist
Restaurant Reviews

Some reviews from the Economist!
I have been to a few of these places,
 but not all!

BarraCasaCruz

Best for a splurge

Casa Cruz
Uriarte 1658
Palermo Viejo
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4833-1112

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One of the trendiest of a new crop of restaurants in Palermo Hollywood, Casa Cruz is currently so popular with Buenos Aires's beautiful people that it can be hard to get a table without booking several days ahead. The big draw is the setting: an impressive, clubby dining room, panelled in mahogany and featuring a vast wine rack. The food is less satisfactory: while Germán Martitegui's menu has its fans, some critics have labelled it pricey and pretentious. Your correspondent enjoyed a starter of arugula, micro greens, blue cheese, walnuts and roasted quince jelly, followed by an equally tasty, lightly smoked red tuna with couscous and fennel coleslaw. But the pistaccio and basil soufflé was not quite worth the long wait.

If the cooking is not to your taste, but you still want to hang out with the glitterti, take a pew at the oval bar at the front of the restaurant, which boasts an interesting range of cocktails.

 

Restaurants
Best for a splurge

Tomo 1
Carlos Pelligrini 521, Mezzanine level
Centre
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0) 11 4326-6698
Website

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Upstairs in the central Hotel Crowne Plaza Panamericano, Tomo 1 has been a synonym for haute cuisine for three decades. The two chefs, sisters Ada and Ebe Concaro, have built a reputation for cooking with wonderfully fresh ingredients and a touch of flair. The menu changes regularly, but usually features classic dishes with an innovative twist. It’s always worth trying the lamb, which is leaner than its European counterpart because of harsh Patagonian grazing conditions. In season, the oyster mushrooms sautéed in olive oil are a wonderfully delicate starter.

With food this good there is little need to lure in the punters with flashy gimmicks or special deals; thus the decor is a little unimaginative and the prices high in peso terms—although fairly cheap in dollars. The fixed menu offers good value at around $25, for three courses with wine, mineral water and coffee.

Restaurants
Business lunch

Cosmopolitain
25 de Mayo 597
Retiro
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4893-2332

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This atmospheric French-style bistro in the city centre is no longer run by the same owners as the excellent Cristophe (in Palermo Viejo) and now only opens for lunch (from 12.30pm to 3.30pm). The menu has been broadened somewhat, however, to take in local fare such as chicken, beef and pasta, as well as the increasingly typical sushi. The well-prepared set lunch remains a good choice.

Restaurants
Business lunch

Katrine
Avenida Alicia Moreau de Justo 138
Puerto Madero
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4315-6222

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Although Katrine Röed, the Norwegian chef who gave her name to this excellent restaurant, is now longer at the helm, her place has been ably filled by Ezequiel Gallardo, a young Argentine chef. The cooking remains very good, although Mr Gallardo describes the new style as “less Norwegian, more fusion, with a Mediterranean base”.

The wine cellar has also been upgraded and now contains 150 different wines. Although catering to an older, wealthier crowd, the menu is never dull; think red tuna with pears, cherry tomatoes, black olives and capers, served with a wasabi emulsion. The presentation and service are as impeccable as ever.

Restaurants
Business lunch

Piegari Vitello e Dolce
Posadas 1089
Recoleta
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4328-4104

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The little brother of the Piegari restaurant across the street in the “Recova de Posadas" restaurant complex, Piegari Vitello e Dolce offers many of the same Italian dishes, but adds an excellent range of local meat and fish. The typical bife de chorizo comes more thickly cut than usual and grilled to perfection—a side order of chips is the ideal complement. The grilled trout, bone-free and tasting like salmon, is big enough for two. To top it all off, try the house speciality: egoista, a hot chocolate cake, oozing chocolate sauce and served with yoghurt ice-cream.

Restaurants
Business lunch

Sottovoce
Avenida del Libertador 1098
Recoleta
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4807-6691

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Sottovoce is popular with local politicians and Italians, who come for traditional dishes such as olivas ascolanas (olives stuffed with veal), whose immense preparation time makes them difficult to enjoy at home. In keeping with Italian tradition, the emphasis is on first-rate ingredients and relatively simple preparation. The restaurant itself follows a similar pattern, unfussy the décor, smooth service and delicious cooking. The home-made pasta is excellent, of course, but the fish and meat dishes are also up to the same standard.

Restaurants
Business lunch

Tancat
Paraguay 645
Retiro
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0) 11 4312-6106/5442

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Tancat

Originally a cramped Catalan tapas bar, the Tancat has since expanded and now thrives by catering to lunching office workers. Such is its popularity that you should book if you want to be assured of a table at lunch. The tapas are as fresh and tasty as ever, but the real attraction here is the varied and well-prepared selection of fish and seafood dishes—a positive rarity in Buenos Aires.

Restaurants
Working breakfast or brunch

Bar 6
Armenia 1676
Palermo Viejo
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4833-6807

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Bar 6 opens at 8am, then runs non-stop until the early hours of the morning. The mix of clients changes throughout the day, with a design and advertising crowd earlier on, attracted by breakfast menus that are served until lunchtime. Choose between the “light”, “American” or “Porteño” options, or throw caution to the wind and go for the “Top 6”: breakfast for two with coffee or tea, juice, pastries, bagels, fruit, ham, cheese and salmon, all washed down with a couple of glasses of champagne.

The small but carefully prepared lunch and dinner menus are also worth checking out. An attractive, open-plan layout with a balcony over the main dining area is in keeping with the modernity of the Palermo Viejo district, but without the wilful trendiness of some of its competitors.

Olsen
Gorriti 5870
Palermo Viejo
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4776-7677

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This cool, Scandinavian-themed restaurant offers a decent set lunch as well as an impressive selection of vodkas from around the world. But its real draw is the special Sunday brunch, served from 10.30am to 8pm, with a mix-and-match menu that allows for delicious combinations, such as smoked salmon with potato pancakes. Accompanied by bagel-style rolls and washed down with a glass of champagne, this is the perfect way to revive yourself after a late Saturday night.

Now in its fifth year, Olsen has now opened a branch in Madrid. The management is revamping the dining room in Buenos Aires, and has installed a very popular Wi-Fi service.

Restaurants
Tête-à-tête

lacorte4

La Corte
Arévalo 2977
Las Cañitas
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4775-0999, 4777-9888

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This New York-style, split-level bar in trendy Las Cañitas offers a small but tempting menu, which changes every two months. For more conservative diners, a mix-and-match menu offers combinations of grilled meat and side dishes. But the kitchen is capable of more exotic offerings, such as the tasty beetroot and sherry vinegar risotto with goat's cheese. The restaurant is open for dinner only during the week and for lunch from 12.30pm on weekends and public holidays. Once an area of sugar canes (hence the name), Las Cañitas now bustles with new restaurants.

Restaurants
Tête-à-tête

Novecento
Báez 199
Las Cañitas
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0) 11 4778-1900

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One of the safest bets in Las Cañitas, this fashionable bistro has a nicely pared-down décor with subdued lighting, which works well for an evening meal (it's also good for lunch). During fine weather, the outdoor tables are recommended. The modern Argentine menu is uncluttered and bilingual. For a special treat, try the Friday night special: Segovian-style baby pork, with stick potatoes and roast peppers.

Branches of Novecento can also be found in the Buenos Aires suburb of Martínez and in Córdoba, Argentina’s second city. For those traipsing around a bit further north, there are even branches in Miami and New York.

Restaurants
Sacred cow

Cabaña las Lilasñ
Avenida Alicia Moreau de Justo 516
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0) 11 4313-1336
Website

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Many Argentines like nothing better than tucking into a hunk of grilled beef, and those who can afford it head to Las Lilas, one of the city’s most famous parrillas (grill restaurants). Popular with tourists and businessmen alike, the restaurant is decked out in rustic wood and leather, but is a distinctly upmarket take on the national cuisine.

It’s in the rejuvenated Puerto Madero docklands area, and prices are thus higher than in the more down-at-heel (some would say authentic) neighbourhood parrillas. But if you’re a fan of a fine, juicy cut of steak, you can do no better than draw up a chair here.

Restaurants
Sacred cow

Chiquilíní
Sarmiento 1599
Tribunales
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4373-5163, 4371-1652

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Inextricably associated with the tango of the same name (written by Horacio Ferrer and performed by Astor Piazzolla), Chiquilín opened in 1927 and has been declared part of the capital's heritage by the city council. Perhaps inevitably, the restaurant feels a bit touristy. But the service is charming and the food good. Choose from tasty and varied selection of cuts of meat, as well as omelettes and pasta dishes.

For the full tourist experience, Chiquilín Tango, just around the corner (Montevideo 310), offers similar cooking accompanied by a full tango show.

Restaurants
At ease

Il Matterello
Martín Rodríguez 517
La Boca
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0)11 4307-0529

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As befits its surroundings in the heart of the run-down La Boca district, Il Matterello is a small, unpretentious Italian restaurant. It stands in the shadow of La Bombonera, the stadium of Boca Juniors, a popular football team. The décor is a little austere and the service can be patchy, but may reckon the Italian food served here is some of the finest in the capital.

Start with the mouth-watering antipasti, which includes sorpresata sausage, mozzarella, dried tomato, olives, aubergine and croquettes. A plate of tortelli or ravioli makes a tasty main course and the Italian desserts ooze authenticity.

Restaurants
At ease

Morelia
Baez 260
Las Canitas
Buenos Aires
Tel: +54 (0) 11 4772-0329

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Argentine-style pizza is the subject of some controversy: locals can't get enough of it, but many foreigners find it unpalatable. If you want to see what the fuss is about, you could eat a slice standing up at one of the unassuming pizzerias near the centre of town: either El Cuartito (Talcahuano 937) or Banchero (Avenida Corrientes 1300).

But for something a bit fancier, Morelia in Las Cañitas offers a distinctly Argentine take on the fare: barbecued pizzas. While that might sound odd, the results convince even foreign sceptics. The heat from the charcoal crisps the crust, while the reflected heat ensures succulent toppings. The setting and prices reflect a more up-market pizza experience, but the rock music and cold lager make the mood far from formal. There is also a new branch in Palermo Hollywood (Humboldt 2005).