Even though it’s one of the biggest cities in South America, Buenos Aires sure lacks quality Latin American restaurants. Desperately longing for more food options coming from our friendly Spanish speaking Caribbean neighbors to the north, I Latina, the new and extremely anticipated puerta cerrada, has finally opened their closed doors to bring something quite gastronomically unique to the BA food scene: upscale Latin American cooking.
A well known restaurant in Bariloche, the Macías brothers, who hail from Colombia, left Patagonia to open up this Buenos Aires restaurant in a secluded house in Villa Crespo. With Santiago in the <open> kitchen and Camilo managing the front of the house, these two are bringing banging Colombian and Latin American fine dining to the closed door restaurant scene. Offering a five course menu, I was lucky to check out the goods at their soft restaurant launch, and boy do they know what’s up.
If I was stranded on a desert island, give me bomb right-out-of-the-oven bread, butter and some sort of shmeary spread, and I could live off of that for months. Fresh and homemade, there were three different types to load up on and spoil my appetite: the white crusty round loaf, buttery crispy BEET bread-like sticks and a more dense (and possibly a bit out of place for a bread basket) banana bread. It also came with two flavor packed spreads in cute lil jars. Having a killer bread basket made for a great start to the meal, a tiny detail that makes a big difference.
First course: a carimañola generously stuffed with rabbit confit and pistachio, served with a sweet passionfruit sauce. Hot damn, I could have popped these bad boy nuggets of fried happiness like a boss. While the maracuyá sauce might have been a bit too sweet for my ‘buds, I still would have liked to down those delicious mothers by the dozens.
Second Course: Octopus Ceviche Nikkei with an avocado foam, sweet potato, baby bok choy and peanuts. Fresh octopussy, just the right amount of components to keep it interesting, without having too much on the plate. A delight.
It wouldn’t be a complete Colombian meal without some play on arepas. I’ve never been to Colombia, so I can’t call myself an arepa connoisseur, but I’m a big fan of the little stuffed fatties. These arepas were similar to a thin pancake, one filled with corn, chicharrón and mashed black beans, the other the Costeña with shrimps.
The winner of the night, a braised lamb slowly cooked for a long ass time in a coffee and thyme sauce, over a green plantain cream. Just as dreamy as it sounds, you could cut the tender cordero with a spoon – like buttah!
And for the final sweet note, a tres-leches-like coconut milk cake. Even though the cool wet consistency wasn’t my favorite texture, I still felt like a stupid cat lapping up every last gram of the deliciously flavored cake.
The space is like pure restaurant design porn, and open kitchen with a beautiful stain glassed backdrop to watch Santiago cook away.
The first Colombian-Latin American fine dining option, this private restaurant’s five course menu changes frequently, highlighting the bold flavors of the Caribbean coast. Truly something special, this type of cuisine, at this level, just doesn’t exist in any other Buenos Aires restaurant.
*I Latina also offers a killer Sunday brunch that might just be my favorite in the city.
*Last photo stolen from I Latina