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Two Restaurants worth visiting in Recoleta (Buenos Aires)

005 Grilled vegetables — amazingly good

 1) Buenos Aires Grill — an excellent Parilla

Dining is, of course, a huge part of traveling.  Experiencing a culture by visiting a restaurant and consuming its food is an excellent way to connect with that place — trying to understand the menu (always best to visit restaurants that don’t hand you an all English translation as these are where the locals eat), trying to converse and build a bond with a waiter, and finally enjoying the meal itself.  Usually these experiences jell into a wonderful experience although sometimes they don’t.

Among the finest food you can eat in Argentina (at least for those who are omnivores or carnivores) is its beef.  Argentine beef is grown on the pampas, is free range with lots of exercise, and has a diet of natural grasses.  As such, Argentine beef is extremely tender and flavorful.

The most common restaurants you’ll find in Buenos Aires are parillas, or steak houses.  These range from small neighborhood “hole-in-the wall” grills to deluxe 5 star restaurants.  There’s an art to grilling meat and the Argentines are masters of it.  Slowly cooked over lower heat, all cuts of meat (not just the steaks we’re used to in North America) are prepared and enjoyed.  Generally the only seasoning used is some salt — the rest of the flavor comes from the meat itself.

Buenos Aires Grill, interior

Buenos Aires Grill, interior

The travel dining experience and great food combined for us when we stumbled across the Buenos Aires Grill because it was just a few blocks from our hotel in Recoleta.  An attractive and comfortable establishment, with a quality professional wait staff, we enjoyed two meals here, several weeks apart.  Both times we tried different cuts of the steak with grilled vegetables.  Absolutely terrific!  Portions were huge and we were too full to try dessert, although I’m told the selection is terrific.  The clientele was a mix of locals and tourists.  We like to eat dinner early (before 8 pm), so that means we always avoided the rush for dinner in Argentina which often is after 9 pm.  As a rule restaurants in Argentina don’t get busy until after 9 pm, so we never had problems getting somewhere to sit.

The Buenos Aires Grill is very recommended for its steak.  Portions are huge — consider sharing one if you’re not that hungry.  Our steaks weighed at least a pound and we couldn’t finish them..  One of our friends tried pork chops here and couldn’t finish the three massive chops he received.

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2) Cumana Restaurant — one of the best dining values in Buenos Aires

The dining experience is all the better when you’re in a place with interesting decor, the food is delicious, inexpensive, and you’re looked after by attentive staff.  We had such an experience at the Cumana restaurant in Recolata, just a short block from the hotel we were staying at.

We ate at this restaurant several times during our stay in Buenos Aires and were able to try a large number of items on the menu.  The empanadas were excellent and I’d especially recommend the chicken empanada (note: these are baked in Argentina, not deep fried and are fresh and very tasty).  The restaurant served delicious tamales, pizzas and a wide variety of savory stews cooked in an Northern Argentine style.  Desserts were also excellent and drinks (including beer and wine) were inexpensive.  The tab generally was about half what you’d pay in an average Buenos Aires restaurant.

By far most of its clients are locals, not tourists.  Cumana gets very popular later in the evenings (after 9 pm) so arrive early for a table and to avoid the wait.  This restaurant accepts cash only — no credit cards.  But if you’re in Recoleta, this place is definitely worth checking out.

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