After traveling in Colombia last year I was hooked on the country’s beautiful landscape, happy and hope filled people, and fresh and flavorful cuisine that very well could be the next worldwide dining trend. While there is a surprisingly large Colombian community in Buenos Aires, the city offers limited options for Colombian food, especially Colombian fine dining restaurants. So, I eagerly awaited trying I Latina, a new closed-door restaurant with Latin and Colombian inspired food.
Like other closed-door restaurants in Buenos Aires, I Latina is by reservation only, but unlike others I’ve tried, it is a fully functional and purpose designed restaurant with an impressive professional kitchen and dining room, not a side project in the cook’s home. The nicely designed and warmly lit dining room is visible from the street in Villa Crespo, a neighborhood that is fast becoming a hotspot for excellent bars and restaurants. Appropriate for a Latin restaurant, I Latina is family run. The food is cooked by Bogota born Santiago Macias Acuña, his brother Camilo manages the front of the house as well as the wine selection, and sister Laura lends her skills in marketing and design.
I Latina offers 5 course wine paired dinners Wednesday through Saturday evenings, with a new menu monthly. The evening I visited, we started with raw sole marinated in lime, orange juice and ginger, followed by a delicious and beautifully presented prawn and grilled peach salad, and moved on to a warm cazuela of white fish in a hearty coconut milk and achiote sauce. We were then served a granita, a small refreshing icy ginger flavored cup that served as a nice break before the heaviest and arguably most traditionally Colombian dish of the night, an upscale version of the classic bandeja paisa. I Latina’s version of the dish included diced avocado with a plantain chip, ground chorizo sausage, and a small arepa topped with chorizo and a quail egg. The dessert was a simple coconut milk soaked cake. Wines, from two different Argentine boutique wineries, were served and paired nicely with each course.
As someone that longs to return again to Colombia, the dinner at I Latina was a wonderful and enjoyable experience, and definitely stands out as unique in the Buenos Aires restaurant scene. Their aggressive and innovative menu is a welcome variety in a very traditionalist dining culture. If you are looking for a night of creative gourmet food in Buenos Aires, I Latina is one of the best choices.
I Latina operates Wednesday-Saturday nights and Sunday for brunch, all by reservation only. Located in Villa Crespo, exact address given when reservation is confirmed. http://ilatinabuenosaires.com/
David Carlisle, originally from Portland, Oregon, has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina since 2007, and along with his Argentine business partner operates Parrilla Tour Buenos Aires, a food tour that focuses on bringing visitors to authentic parrillas in the city to taste and learn about the culture and cuisine of Argentina. To find out more go to www.parrillatour.com.