Long before Palermo Soho flooded with overly trendy porteños, when Spanish was still the dominate language of the neighborhood, El Preferido de Palermo opened as a standard almácen-like bodegón: no frills, attentive service, solid food. Since the opening in 1952, this restaurant on the corner of Guatemala and Borges has stayed true to its heritage, specializing in a Spanish influenced porteño menu: tapas, guisos, picadas, parrilla, pastas, mariscos. Half almacén with high bar tables and half restaurant with a more traditional dining room, I had the pleasure to DOWN one of the best plates of fried calamari.
The space, always filled to the max with both a local and tourist crowd, ideal for both people and product watching. Stacked on the walls are cans and jars of local and imported products: olives, peppers, artichokes, palmitos, and Fernets, with massive salamis and ginormous hams dangling from the rafters.Perusing the menu, I had a real hard time what to choose. I know they do a good guiso, but I didn’t want anything too hearty, the picadas also looked wonderful, but I wasn’t in the mood for salty meaty delights. Looking around I saw a common theme at each table: rabas, rabas and more rabas. Almost every single table had a massive plate of fried calamari. I could definitely get into some of that.
There’s nothing like a large plate overflowing with perfectly fried, salted, lemony calamari lightly sprinkled with flakes of parsley. I’ve eaten many-o-plates of calamari in my South American adventures, in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, and time after time it comes out a bit off: still frozen, too greasy, too soggy, too mushy, too chewy… I could write a whole blog post on my trials and tribulations with the round fried disks. But I do not have any complaints about these calamaris – especially since they are served on top of a double whammy of fried loveliness: papas españoles (Spanish potatoes) and when done correctly (and these were), consist of the perfect hybrid between a chip and a french fry. That’s it. A great plate of rabas, a cold liter of Quilmes and soak in the charming atmosphere.
El Preferido de Palermo
Jorge L. Borges 2108
Monday – Saturday: 12pm – 4pm, 8pm – closing
Average price: AR$50 – 70