If you follow me on twitter or Facebook, you’ll know that I recently traveled to Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo. While I literally saw the inside of my hotel for almost all of my Sao Paulo stint, I had a good 48 hours in Buenos Aires! How much can a girl see in 48 hours with a point-and-shoot? Well, follow along!
I arrived late-afternoon and was STARVING. I already had received a great suggestion on a meat-ful dinner, which I was saving for the next day, but for that evening I needed something quick and easy. It might seem a little strange to travel from NYC all the way to Argentina and have pizza of all things – but El Cuartito came highly regarded!
El Cuartito was established in 1934 and is an example of much of the Italian influence that peppers Buenos Aires (fun fact – did you know that even some words are prounounced slightly differently in Argentina than in other Spanish-speaking countries, also due to the Italian influence starting in the mid-19th century? Now you know.) The specialty of the restaurant was its fugazetta pizza – a white onion and cheese pizza on a thick crust – so of course I had to partake! I also ordered a spicy meat empanada to go along with it. You know, balanced meal and all.
I was a little wary of the doughy crust – the NYC slices I’m used to favor a more svelte physique. However, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the pillowy soft crust was the perfect counterpoint to the rich cheese and slightly caramelized onions. Amazing! The empanada was also unbeatable hot out of the oven – crispy, light and flavorful. The slice + empanada + soda cost me a whopping $6! Win!
And of course I couldn’t go back to my hotel room without some dessert for later:
Breakfast the next day was early and at the hotel – I am a girl with work to do, after all! Unlike some disappointing complimentary hotel breakfasts, this one didn’t disappoint. Featuring the strongest coffee known to man, flaky buttery croissants, and oh my is that a churro I see? Better get a big dollop of dulce de leche to go with it – or two dollops, or three…..
By this point I was thoroughly ensconced in my sugar high and had to walk it off a bit. I participated in a free city tour (which was awesome, totally recommend it!) during which I learned of several government buildings and theaters that were beautiful but for the life of me, I can’t remember their names. I blame it on the dulce de leche.
It was then time for….my MEATY LUNCH!
For my meaty lunch, I headed to La Cabrera:
La Cabrera was recommended to me not only by my coworker, but one of my good friends whose husband is Argentinian – so I knew it had to be good! The wait can be outrageous for dinner, but I was all by my lonesome for lunch and was seated right away. I was glad they prepared me for my lunch full-o-meat:
I ordered the set lunch menu, which included an appetizer, entree and dessert. For the appetizer, city gal that I am, I expected something along the lines of a side salad. Imagine my unbridled delight when instead a huge hunk-o-chorizo was plopped in front of me:
Can I just say how much I love chorizo? A lot. I love it a lot. The chimichurri wasn’t too shabby either…
After I finished the chorizo (it’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it), I ducked back into my lunch date – a mediocre novel that was the only book in English I could find at the used bookstore. I helped myself to some bread and butter – do you think they gave enough butter? I’m not sure….
And then the main course was ready! Let’s start with the steak, ok? First of all – that’s two pieces of steak. Granted, the second piece isn’t obscenely hefty, but 2 pieces + chorizo… man, I’m glad I wore my stretchy pants! The steak came with 3 dipping sauces, which I wanted to capture in their full glory:
As well as a close-up of the steak. And the steak #2.
But wait, there’s more. Apparently I snapped my photo prematurely. Out came the sides – stewed squash, corn with bacon, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, and apple sauce. So of course I had to take another photo.
Oh but wait there’s even more!
At this point I was digging into steak #1, when a waiter came by with literally a smorgasbord of small bites. Like, a board. Full of smorgas (where smorags = small bites). I picked three (I think he was disappointed that I didn’t choose more) – a caprese salad, baby corn, and what he described as lemon mousse, which I thought would be a wonderful sweet and tangy palate cleanser. Turns out it wasn’t sweet at all but plenty tangy! Not unpleasant, but totally caught me off guard.
At this point, I was starting to slow down a bit from meat overload and carb coma. The steak was SO juicy and tender though that I just couldn’t stop myself. Yep, I ate the whole thing. Don’t judge, you know you would too. With gusto!
I was now ready for dessert – I had a choice of flan or ice cream. As you know, I had flan as my midnight snack the night before AND I heard that ice cream in Argentina was awesome. So I went with the ice cream. I was expecting a tiny scoop and instead ended up with….a hulking scoop:
The bill was presented to me along with a lollipop tree, as I believe all bills should be presented:
What was the damage? With tax and tip: $21.76. Yes, you read that correctly. A three course meal, including a ginormous steak – for $21.76. I think that’s about the price of 2 sides at a NYC steakhouse.
And just to ensure I knew my steak anatomy:
Of course, in between meals I did a bit of strolling and sight-seeing:
Ever wonder how cats got in and out of the living quarters of Franciscan monks? Well, wonder no longer:
The cemetery itself was quite interesting – this is the final resting place of Buenos Aires’ wealthiest and most powerful. The tombs themselves were ornately sculpted and massive. Supposedly, lots can be priced in the millions.
The tomb of Evita was adorned with flowers and bouquets. Did you know that she was allegedly considered by some to be too “low class” to be buried in the Recoleta Cemetery? Or that her coffin is secured under multiple trap doors and compartments?
My time in Buenos Aires was brief but delicious and fascinating. I hope to have the opportunity to return sometime soon!
Have you been to Buenos Aires before? What are your best tips for eating or sightseeing solo?