As the food scene (ugh, I hate that string of words, don’t you?) in Buenos Aires continues to change, evolve, and improve, the local events calendar is brimming with different gastro-happenings, no matter the season, the reason, or the theme. From seasonal eating initiatives to a week dedicated to cocktails to Korean banquets – and everything in between – if you’ve got an appetite, there’s always something new to check out.
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However, one stalwart from the early days of this new era continues to rage on. Buenos Aires Food Week, now in its 13th edition, can be considered one of the OG pioneers that worked to bring the city’s vibrant offerings to a broader audience. Remember, not everyone plans their agenda around new restaurant openings and brunch pop-ups. Rather than focus on one cuisine in particular, BA Food Week partners with dozens of premium local eateries that create fixed menus at budget-friendly prices in a bid to attract new customers and promote Argentina’s culinary talent.
Want more details? Grab a pen and jot this down: From April 29th through May 19th, 38 restaurants in Buenos Aires will offer either lunch or dinner menus for AR $400 and AR $680, respectively. The price does not include cubierto, drinks, or tip, just FYI. Only MasterCard clients will be able to partake in Food Week from April 29th through May 5th; after that, the event is open to anyone and everyone. Thirsty? You’ll get a complimentary Aperol Spritz upon arrival, and certain participating restaurants will also have special promos on Chandon and Terrazas de los Andes wines.
Perhaps the best part of Buenos Aires Food Week is the community component. Diners are invited to make a donation to Banco de Alimentos, a local NGO that works to end hunger in Argentina. For perspective, just AR $200 helps to provide 36 plates of food for those who need it.
We spoke to Antonio Fernandez Nortes, operations director at Komyun, one of the newest additions to this year’s Food Week. When we asked him why the restaurant decided to participate now, he explained: “We knew it was going to be a great opportunity to keep growing and for even more people to become familiar with what we do.” Despite the “challenging” panorama that the food industry in Argentina continues to face – mostly due to the economic downturn – Nortes is excited about the “effervescence of recent years” where “new offerings and young people are taking the plunge with novel, creative concepts.“
While Food Week isn’t without its critics – since menu prices don’t include drinks or cubierto, it’s not as cheap as you’d think; some restaurants sacrifice quality to increase margins, resulting in sub-par representation of the kitchen’s ability; places are saturated with first-time diners, many who might not return – it’s still a fun reason to plan a dinner date with friends and check out one of the city’s myriad restaurants that you’ve had on your list for ages. Our tips? Try to go during the week, for lunch if you can wing it, and pick a spot you might not be able to visit another time.
So without further ado, we at The Bubble put together a list of five restaurants to try during Buenos Aires Food Week. Remember to pace yourself, wear pants with a stretchy waistband, and don’t forget to make a donation to Banco de Alimentos when you’re done. Bon appétit!
Want a dose of classic Recoleta glam for a minute? Rufino is your place. Just steps from the Recoleta Cemetery and in the heart of the city’s poshest barrio, Rufino is located within the chic Hotel Mío. With a strong focus on Argentina’s culinary traditions, the restaurant serves top-notch steaks and other locally-sourced dishes. If you can make time for a leisurely lunch (so you have time enough time to get through the postprandial meat sweats, naturally), Rufino’s menu looks especially promising. Start with an empanada (carne or humita, if you’re veg) or some revuelto gramajo if you want to go old-school. For your main, the entraña sounds delish, but if you’ve got a pasta craving, the pappardelle with prawns and basil should be just as good. Leave room for dessert; you’ll have a choice between chocolate mousse with pistachios or homemade flan with dulce de leche and whipped cream. A bonus? There’s no cubierto at mid-day, saving you a few pesos in the process.
This Mediterranean bistro is one of Palermo Hollywood’s best-kept secrets. Ureña, which opened in 2016, boasts sleek, high-gloss design and a menu that prioritizes seasonal, artisanal products and ingredients. If you want to take make a good impression, this is the restaurant to visit during Food Week. Its dinner menu kicks off with a choice of arancini with tomato and mozzarella, baked meatballs with balsamic vinegar, or an aged cheese tasting (omg). From there, you’ll have to choose between squid ink risotto with baby squid, linguini carbonara, or red peppers stuffed with vegetables, anchovies, parmesan, and olives. For dessert, take your pick: panna cotta, tiramisú, or concordia. One thing is certain – no matter what, you’re guaranteed to have an incredible evening.
Aldo’s San Telmo
Who doesn’t love Aldo’s? Seriously. With a decor scheme that is reminiscent of New York’s best and most polished bistros, both the San Telmo and Palermo locations are ideal spots for boozy weekend lunches or romantic dinner dates. The wine bottles stacked floor to ceiling are a not-so-gentle-reminder that you can bring home pretty much anything that tickles your fancy at vinoteca prices, too. During Food Week, we’ve got our eyes on San Telmo’s lunch menu, though anything whipped up by chef Maximiliano Matsumoto will throw your taste buds into a tizzy. Start with a pea hummus, served with pickled beets and feta, or perhaps morcilla with a 65-degree egg and pickled radishes. For your main, choose between braised ossobuco with a cucumber bean salad, beet risotto with blue cheese, or chicken cooked two ways and served with a Thai salad. Finish things off on a sweet note for dessert – carrot cake, arroz con leche cremoso, and popcorn crème brûlée all sound like things I would like to eat until my stomach hurts.
One of the best things you can do on a Sunday in Buenos Aires is roam around San Telmo for a while, buy a few old seltzer bottles and random chotchkes, and then celebrate your financial irresponsibility by ordering one too many bottles of rosé at Petanque. Honestly, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, ok? It’s also a magical spot in the evening, once the hordes of tourists have thinned out and the neighborhood takes on a certainly more romantic air. Make a point to check out its Food Week dinner menu, which will transport you to Paris more quickly – and affordably – than actually getting on a plane, without sacrificing quality or authenticity. All of the starters – artichoke quiche, Alsatian pâté, and a mini salmon tartare – will get you in the mood for the main event, when the real fun starts. Choose from a leg of lamb, white fish, or chicken cordon bleu with potato gratin. Let’s hope the weather is cool because this menu will send you into cozy hiberation before you can say à bientôt!
This perfectly charming corner in the residential neighborhood of Nuñéz will serve you updated dishes from the Argentine childhood that you probably never had (OK, a lot of you probably did). If the weather is cooperative, its rooftop terrace is where you’ll want to while away a crisp Saturday afternoon with friends – and several bottles of wine. If you get panicky just thinking about leaving your Palermo bubble, take Food Week as an excuse to get out of town (well, not actually, but it might feel like it to you) and have dinner at Oporto. Have a fried empanada to start, or maybe some spinach buñelos if you’re keen for green. For your main, there’s really only one acceptable option: the milanesa with house-made spaghettini. An Argentine classic, it will blend childhood nostalgia with hipster foodie coolness. End things on a high note by choosing between crème brûlée, chocolate mousse, and panqueue de dulce de leche.