After working at San Francisco vegan restaurant Millennium, Diego Felix brought his passion for organic farming and vegetarian haute cuisine to meat centric Buenos Aires. He opened Casa Felix, a restaurant inside his home in Chacarita, and serves five courses made with indigenous South American ingredients. The concept falls closer to paying to eat at the home of a friend than dining out at a restaurant.
Whenever I hear of a restaurant in a hip boutique hotel in an even hipper neighborhood, I expect something of a let down. I expect overpriced drinks and food that is big on hype but poorly executed. Hernán Gipponi in Buenos Aires’s Fierro Hotel, which opened in October of 2010, is a rare exception. It’s the only boutique hotel restaurant I’ve found in South America that is comparable is the Tcherassi hotel’s Vera restaurant in Cartagena, Colombia. The restaurant’s namesake, chef Hernán Gipponi, is one of the rare talents in Buenos Aires that can look beyond a superb cut of beef. Formerly of the Bilbao’s Guggenheim and Quique Dacosta in Denia, Valencia, Gipponi’s menu tends to be adventurous and his kitchen’s execution is spot on.
Malbec grapes grow in Argentina like nowhere else on earth; just as grass fed cows have no prettier place to graze than on the country’s endless plains. These are two iconic elements of the country. On their own they spin legends, but pair the two and this is where they form something special. Something only experienced in Argentina.
Francis Ford Coppola, who is now a hotel owner in Buenos Aires (see Casa Escondido below shot Tetro, a mostly black and white film on the streets of La Boca, the gritty port district in Buenos Aires where tango was born. The colorful barrio is as much of a character as the actors themselves and showcases Coppola’s love for the Argentina as they move from the capital with a drive south to Patagonia, where a literary festival sets the scene for the closing credits.
While there is some debate over this, both in Buenos Aires and out, most critics point to two parillas, or steakhouses, for the best meat in the city. Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero is the flashier, more expensive, and harder to get into of the two restaurants, though I’m still going with La Cabrera, with two nearly side by side restaurants in Palermo Soho.
As it begins to look more and more like South America is going to clean up at the World Cup, I had the rare opportunity to watch matches of both Brazil and Argentina from within those countries. Each of these nations has won the cup in the past and two of the greatest players in cup history, Argentina’s Diego Maradona (now Argentina’s coach) and Brazil’s Pele, originated here. Both countries hold futbol to a standard on par with the church. When a game is on, the cities shut down as everyone watches. Here’s my report.
With Europe being still so unaffordable for American travelers, Buenos Aires, a city many consider to be more European than anywhere in Europe, is a steal. True the Peso has gone up from where it was a few years ago, but when the price of a steak and a bottle of Malbec is the same price as a burger at TGI Friday’s at home you can’t complain. Here are three places options for resting your head:
If you are unfamiliar with Frommer’s guidebooks they are wordy, upscale guides that focus on a slightly older more experienced crowd with money to spend on hotels, restaurants, and entertainment and offer lengthy sections on trip planning. The do lack photos, but they do a good job for the most part of giving you an idea of what to expect.