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10 great Buenos Aires restaurants
As the Argentinian saying goes, "Hunger is a good kitchen." It also makes for a great restaurant
Buenos Aires has been known to captivate many a visitor, providing such ample entertainment that many find themselves stripped of the will to leave.
A large portion of the Argentine capital’s ability to charm comes down to its outstanding cuisine -- here are 10 of its best eateries.
1. Café Dorrego
On the corner of Plaza Dorrego in the heart of San Telmo, this traditional café is full of character and old men sipping espressos -- like them, you'll appreciate the typical Argentine pick-me-up: coffee and medialunas ("half moons" or croissants).
Peanut shells litter the harlequin floor tiles, old gin bottles line the walls and well-worn tables are scarred with the signatures of bygone guests.
Best for people-watching on Sundays when the square springs to life with the hustle of 200 antiques stalls.
Defensa 1098, Humberto Primero, Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo; +54 911 43 61 01 41; daily 8 a.m.- 3 a.m.; budget
2. La Cabrera
So well known is La Cabrera for its "steak so tender you can cut it with a spoon" that even with a reservation you have to stand in line before being rewarded with a table.
Once inside, waiters in crisp white shirts and berets (known as "boinas") deliver enormous slabs of grilled meat on wooden boards.
For the Argentine steakhouse experience par excellence, nothing beats the Bife de Chorizo accompanied by a bottle of Malbec.
Hard-core eaters can take on the Volcan de Chocolate for dessert.
5099 Calle Cabrera, Palermo Viejo; +54 911 4831 7002; daily 12:30-4:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.-1 a.m.; moderate to expensive; www.parrillalacabrera.com.ar
3. Astrid & Gastón
The global spread of Peruvian food is echoed in the growth of Astrid & Gaston -- first opened in Lima in 1994, it has now spread to Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Spain, Mexico and Argentina.
In a colonial townhouse, the red and gold paneling makes for a romantic setting.
The full experience includes pisco sours followed by the seven-course tasting menu, which ranges from Peruvian classics like ceviche and cuy (guinea pig), to seafood, soup, beef and, lastly, baked apple topped with dulce de leche.
Lafinur 3222, Palermo Botanico; expensive; +54 911 4802 2991; Monday-Saturday 12.30 p.m.-3 p.m., 8.30 p.m. till late; www.astridygaston.com
Palermo is full of great restaurants, but Tô is one of the district’s more extraordinary offerings in terms of both menu and modernity.
The futuristic decor is coupled with avant garde Frapenise (French meets Japanese) fusion food. As a concept it may sound odd, but in practice it makes complete sense to start a meal with sushi and finish with French desserts.
Costa Rica 6000, Palermo Hollywood; +54 911 4772 8569; moderate
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Godoy is part of a new Buenos Aires trend known as an "After Office" -- a bar-cum-restaurant that turns into a club. There’s a "no knives" theme, so bite-size delicacies come out on silver platters –- curried prawns and samosas followed by mango soup is a typical offering.
As night commences the lights lower, the music pumps up and the dance floor becomes the focal point.
Paraguay 4905, Palermo; moderate; +54 911 4116 1923; www.restaurantgodoy.com.ar
6. Dill & Drinks
For a little bit of this and a little bit of that, this trendy tapas bar is what you need before a night out.
The waiters have a punky edge, but their service is top-notch. The intimate bar makes is cozy and serves good classic cocktails -- white Russians, caipirinhas, Bellinis and an ominous concoction called The End made of Grand Marnier, Absinthe and lemon juice.
Portions are generous and beautifully presented.
San Martín 986 (entre Marcelo T. de Alvear y Paraguay); +54 911 4515 0675; Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-1:30 a.m., Friday 11 a.m.-3 a.m., Saturday 7:30 p.m.-midnight; moderate; dillanddrinks.com
7. Casa Saltshaker
Puerta cerrada ("closed door") restaurants are a hit in Buenos Aires. At Casa Saltshaker the concept is simple: guests book online and turn up at chef Dan Perlman's house for a five-course meal en famille.
The food is often inspired by global events –- for example, a hint of Asia on Chinese New Year.
Dan’s motto is "Food and Conversation," making this a good option if you're traveling alone or fancy meeting new people.
Between Peña and Pacheco de Melo, Recoleta; +54 911 6132 4146; moderate; www.casasaltshaker.com
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8. Casa Coupage
Casa Coupage is another underground restaurant, but here the focus is wine tasting. There are separate dining tables, so it’s more like being in a restaurant than someone’s house.
Two sommeliers take center court guiding guests through the pairing of Argentine wines and food -– this is a good option for wine lovers.
Soler 5518, Palermo; moderate; +54 911 4777 9295; casacoupage.com
9. Faena Hotel
Philippe Stark’s renovation of a red brick 1900s grain store into a slick city hotel includes no fewer than six restaurants and bars.
There’s the all-white El Bistro with its macrobiotic menu (grains, vegetables, fish); El Mercado with its brick patio and traditional Argentine fare (steak and chips); and the seductive El Cabaret, where dinner is a warmup for the Rojo Tango show.
Martha Salotti 445, Puerto Madero; expensive; +54 911 4010 9000; www.faenahotelanduniverse.com
10. Elena, Four Seasons
Sundays at the Four Seasons are known as best of the bunch for brunch, and the experience at Elena -- the hotel's brand new restaurant -- lives up to its reputation.
It's hard to imagine more meat, cheese, pasta, sushi, pancakes, chocolate, sweeties and ice cream gracing one buffet -- it’s like combining Whole Foods with Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
And it's not just for tourists. Sunday Brunch here is something of a right of passage for well-heeled Porteños.
Posadas 1086/88, Recoleta; +54 911 4321 1200; Sunday noon-4 p.m.; expensive; www.fourseasons.com/buenosaires
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