Here is a quick list of some of my favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires for less than
30 40 pesos per person (about $10):
There is always a long wait, the tables are ridiculously close together, and you can barely read the menu the place is so dark, but it is consistently good and the prices have gone up only a few pesos in the past couple of years while many other restaurants have increased prices by 50%.
What to order? Cumaná has pretty standard Argentine food like pizza and empanadas, but they also have northern Argentine cuisine like locro (beafy goodness stew), lentejas (lentils) and cazuelas (umm don’t know translation, google it). Personally, I can never go wrong with a couple of empanadas and the cazuela vegetales rusticos.
Sarkis – Armenian Food / Middle Eastern Food (Thames 1101, Villa Crespo)
This Middle Eastern/Armenian restaurant has the best ranking on Guiaoleo.com, an online guide to Buenos Aires restaurants, because it is damn tasty. The idea is to order a lot of little tapas style plates (full or half orders), and go with a big group of people to try an assortment of goodness. Or, as I tend to do, go with a small group and order a varied spread.
What to order? I always have to order hojas de parras rellenas (stuffed grape leaves), ensalada belén (roasted eggplant, red peppers, white grapes, and almonds or cashews yum), morrones asados (roasted red peppers), puré de berenjena (eggplant puré). Most of these plates cost around AR$12-18 pesos. If you want something meaty, the beefy shlong with yogurt sauce served over a crisp greasy piece of pita is always a table favorite. I think I want to go tonight.
Chan Chan – Peruvian Food (Hipolito Yrigoyen 1390, Congreso)
Chan Chan brings Peruvian flavors to BA with excellent meals that are quite affordable. The restaurant’s decorations are random – murals of meadows and fields with rabbits hopping around (funny enough, conejo, rabbit, is on the menu), and of course it wouldn’t be complete without a Virgin Mary statue.
What to order? Every table gets a basket of bread and canchita (Peruvian corn snack) with two sauces – one with a spicy kick. Ceviche is always extremely fresh – no fishy taste here, and huge portions are enough for two people to share. My favorite is the grilled fish, it comes with white rice and a boiled potato – simple and delicious.
This small café has become quite trendy which is a turn off, but they do offer delicious brunch options, reasonable prices, and it’s a great ambiance.
What to order? Something off the daily special menu! Order a special breakfast combo like the Tony (eggs Benedict) or the Gallo (yogurt, fruit, granola).
Anyone who studied abroad with me can attest to Los Sabios being my obsession during the 9 months I lasted as a vegetarian in BA. In this tenedor libre (all you can eat buffet), owned by a Taiwanese family, I would pile my plate with vegetarian macrobiatic food, with the occasional asian dishes fried rice/noodles/egg rolls and the healthy Argie staples empanada/french fries/pizza thrown in the mix. Right next to my first apartment, I would fill a to-go container for 7 pesos or dine in for the AYCE (yes, I just made an acronym for all you can eat) for 13 pesos. The prices have gone up about 50%, but still a good deal at about AR$35 pesos.
What to order? Usually they have around 30 or more options plus desserts but this changes daily – don’t go to late or a lot of good things will be gone – and if you are a serious eater and want to try new things, get a seat facing the kitchen so you can see when they come out with trays of new food. My favorites dishes are the seitan, garbonzo and pepper salad, potato croquettes, and this tofu bean sprout thing. I also make sure to take full advantage of the salad bar with bean salads, broccoli, beets and other green goodnesses.
**NOTE: This was written in 2009 and updated again in 2011, but I’m sure when you are reading this, the prices will have increased again in this ever inflating economy we live in.