It has been quite the exciting year for the Buenos Aires food and restaurant loving community. Once was a subpar food city, Buenos Aires has quickly taken the spot for one of the world’s rising star food destinations. 2012 put Buenos Aires on the food map with young talented cooks emerging, great new restaurant openings, innovative and adventurous chefs doing what they do best, sommeliers and mixologists taking the spotlight and food fairs and markets receiving widespread attention. While top ten lists of 2012 are soooo 2012, here are the best new Buenos Aires restaurants, cafés and bars of 2012.
GAJO – Pop Up Restaurant Events
One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had, what do you get when a dozen talented young Argentine cooks come together to form the ultimate mega gastro-mogul team? An insane culinary frenzy with too many chefs in the kitchen. Who is cooking the dinner? Hernán Gipponi (HG), Matías Kyriazis (Paraje Arevalo, Local, Casa Arevalo), Soledad Nardelli (Chila), Hernán Griccini (Mansión Algodón), Fernando Hara and Yago Márquez (Unik), Rodrigo Castilla (Las Pizarras), Gonzalo Aramburu (Aramburu), Juan Pedro Rastellino (Allium Catering), Antonio Soriano (Astor), Darío Gualtieri (Casa Umare), Juan Gaffuri (Four Seasons Hotel) and Martín Baquero (El Almacén de los Milagros).
I Latina – Villa Crespo
A taste of the Caribbean has finally made its way to Buenos Aires. Colombians are invading Buenos Aires, and bringing tasty Latin American flavor bursting treats. The Colombian brothers at this closed door Villa Crespo restaurant are striking gold with their Caribbean-style puerta cerrada. While they are known for their by-reservation only dinners Thursday – Saturdays, my personal favorite is their Sunday afternoon brunch that is just absolute perfection on a plate.
Bar du Marché – Palermo Hollywood Despite being a major wine destination, Buenos Aires overall lacks in the wine bar department. But praise to the Malbec Gods, a French style spot has emerged on the café-hub Nicaragua street. Offering over 50 wines by the glass, a rarity for the bottle-loving drinking culture, this adorable spot makes a killer cheese platter, offers daily lunch specials and is run by knowledgeable sommeliers. Oh, and upstairs there is even a Japanese closed door restaurant.
NOLA – Palermo SohoNew to the Buenos Aires closed door restaurant scene, this spunky New Orleans chica quickly climbed to the top of Trip Advisor with her rustic southern, Mexican and French influenced home cooking. Liza Puglia teams up with rising star mustached wine specialist Francisco Terren for one of the only traditional communal table puertas cerradas still left in Buenos Aires: inviting an intimate group of diners into their home for a 4-course spice-filled menu + wine pairings. For a more casual and affordable taste at NOLAchef’s cooking, the weekly Mexican night pop up dinners at Tout le Monde bar are definitely worth a visit.
Gengis’ House – Recoleta Healthy, flavorful, vegetable packed – this choose your own stir fry spot should be opened with welcome arms, and quickly franchised to multiple locations throughout the city. If I had it in my neighborhood, I’d be a weekly regular.
Coco Marie – Palermo SohoEver think that a bathing suit shop would make you want to eat? Neither did I. But Coco Marie’s garden is just too cute to pass by. The ultimate Palermo café oasis, it’s a wonderful breakfast / lunch / merienda spot where you can feel so good, and bad about yourself, all at the same time.
Aipim – Palermo SohoAnother young chef with mad skills, Aipim brings a mix of Latin American flavors to Palermo Soho — all in a cozy and inviting atmosphere. It also makes my list for one of my favorite brunches in the city. *Aipim has closed their space on Thames and opened up as a puerta cerrada.
Rey de Copas – Palermo SohoThe vibe doesn’t get much better than this French-Moroccan style Palermo spot. Head straight to the back to lounge in the dimly lit room, sipping on carefully selected wines and downing cocktails made with some skill. (Photo by Rey de Copas)
La Cresta – AlmagroOne of my absolute fave new spots of the year, this healthy fast food modern take away rotisserie owned by a Brit-Argie couple, excels in everything they do. High quality ingredients, bright intense flavors, inventive salads, an ever-changing dinner menu, if you live near La Cresta, or even not that near, it’s hard to stay away.
in Bocca al Lupo – Palermo HollywoodThis café on Bonpland just screams Italy – Italian coffee, Italian specialties and even an Italian radio station playing in the background. A super comfortable space with a winning patio, I like hoarding a table for hours, sipping on coffee, and a portion of focaccia-like pizza.
Baking BA – MicrocentroAnother winner in the healthy fast food take away game, Baking BA does everything right: fresh salads, low fat/low cal options, tasty wraps, sandwiches, guilt free desserts and the only place in Buenos Aires that makes a KILLER English muffin bacon breakfast sandwich.
Decata – Palermo HollywoodMy favorite go-to spot to do work, Decata has an all-star terrace that’s ideal for coffee drinking, massive cakes and ample plugs and strong wifi connection. The Caesar salad, which runs on the pricey side, actually is the real deal. (Photo by Decata)
The Lost Asian’s Hidden Kitchen - Palermo SohoYoga instructor, acupuncturist, photographer and food blogger Frances Ren Huang has compiled a team of the ultimate food lovers to bring the flavors of China and Taiwan to Palermo Soho. Inspired by familiar Asian flavors and family dishes, Frances whips up a truly unique BA culinary experience. Rumor has it this pop up restaurant might not pop up too much longer, so make your reservations before you have lost this Asian completely. (Photo by The Lost Asian)
DON – Villa CrespoCafé Crespin’s baby sister, it’s an American-inspired to-go style deli featuring salads, sandwiches, wraps, and baked goods. Go to fix your donut craving and hang out while stealing their fast WiFi connection.
Honor y Causa – Palermo HollywoodA wonderful new addition to the neighborhood, more young talented chefs are popping out of kitchens, bringing their own refined and creative style to Argentine cuisine. The menu is small to focus on excellent execution and presentation for each dish.
Street Food – Barrio ChinoThe food kiosks have been around for some time in Barrio Chino, but in the past year, several spots have sprung up other than just the usual weekend spring rolls served inside some of the supermarkets. One next to Asia Oriental, another across from Casa China and a third across from Ichiban supermarket, food on a stick finally makes an appearance. The grilled pork is especially delicious.
Coffee Town – San TelmoCoffee lovers make your way to the San Telmo market and hop up on a bar stool to get comfy and cozy with a cup of the strong stuff. Brought to you by the Centro de Estudios del Café, these people know their coffee.
Cocu – Palermo Soho
Authenticity at its finest, Cocu specializes in breads and pastries, and does a mighty fine job doing so. The buttery viennoiseries that have been known to induce a serious addiction.
Le Ble Palermo – Palermo HollywoodThe favorite Chacarita/Colegiales French bakery has opened up a Palermo location, serving big-ass coffees, killer croissants and fresh baked breads. It’s a prime go-to outdoor pastry-coffee kinda spot, sipping on the giant mug and downing an ultra flaky croissant. Or just go Tuesday – Friday at 7pm-8pm for their 2×1 on all baked goods – now that’s my kinda happy hour!
Latino Sandwich – MicrocentroA great spot in the center to grab a quick sandwich, these guys know how to make the perfect two bread-insides-with fixins-combo. Affordable and creative, those who find themselves in the downtown area should pop in for a quick lunch.
Local – Palermo HollywoodLocal is the second spot from From Matías Kyriazis and Stef Di Benedetto, of Paraje Arévalo fame, offering a more relaxed menu than their 5/8 course PA madness. They have also opened up Casa Arévalo next door, a pop up restaurant where guest chefs rotate taking over the wonderful space.
La Monumental – Palermo HollywoodNot a restaurant, but this spot on Ravignani y Santa Fe has been my go-to verduleria for the past few months. A rise in self-service vegetables stands, this produce mecca has good quality shit for the best prices I’ve seen outside of Mercado Central.
Le Pain Quotidien – Palermo Botanico
The popular chain from Belgium that swept across Europe has made its way to Buenos Aires with this café and bakery, serving croissant and pastry perfection. (Photo by Argentina.ar)
Other restaurant openings of 2012 that is on the list to visit in 2013:
Mullu – Retiro – Peruvian
Le Grill – Puerto Madero – High end parrilla
L’Osteria – Puerto Madero – Italian
Casa Umare – Almagro – Modern Argentine -
El Tejano – Palermo Soho – Texan BBQ Pop Up
Chambre Tres – Belgrano – Argentine/Asian
Ocho Once – Palermo – Modern Argentine
Yagalchi – Flores – Korean
El Burladero – Recoleta – Spanish Tapas
Puerta Abierta – Pop Up
Fleur du Sel – Belgrano – French
Mazzo – Villa Crespo – Café
Oum’s – Palermo Soho
Vintage Coffee – Palermo Hollywood
MASA – Mexican pop up
What other new restaurants are on your list to try in 2013?