My latest culinary adventures in Buenos Aires

I promised I would write this entry but have slack in following through. So, let's take a look at some of the restaurants I visited on this last trip to Buenos Aires...

Mark's Deli and Coffee House - El Salvador 4701 - This was a two minute walk from Five Cool Rooms... I went here to have a casual lunch and conversation with an Argentine colleague. Good casual fare - large selection of sandwiches (I had one with goat cheese, tomato and apple... really quite good), salads, pastries, coffee, etc. Casual and busy.

Lo De Jesus - Gurruchaga 1406 - Great parrilla in Palermo Viejo with a nice selection of meat dishes but with other specials like pasta and fish. I tried the pacu', a cousin to the piranha and it was simply delicious. Attentive and friendly service and a great atmosphere - upscale environment that isn't too stuffy. Watch out for the bread they bring out with your meal. It can fill you up!? A bit on the pricey side.

At 9:30, the crowd still hasn't arrived at Lo De Jesus

La Cabrera - Cabrera 5099 - An old school parilla with an outstanding selection of meat dishes. Everyone talks about this place and you'll find that you can show up at 9:00 and it will be packed... 9:00... in Buenos Aires. Well, it seems like more than just locals like to go there. So, either make a reservation or be prepared to wait. If you do wait, you'll be treated to outstanding (and large!) cuts of beef at reasonable prices. I ordered a 1/2 portion of bife de chorizo, about 400 gr. It was accompanied by a dozen or so condiments, many of which were delicious. I highly recommend staking out a spot and waiting for the hostess to call your name. Cozy but very busy environment. More food for less money than Lo De Jesus.

Not sure what was better... the meat or the condiments.

Bahia Madero - Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 430 - I had a quick meal in Puerto Madero inbetween meetings. I had originally planned on going to Bice but decided to try a new place (new for me). I like Bahia Madero - it had a reasonably priced menu ejecutive for about 35 pesos that included a drink, main course and coffee or dessert. I wanted something light so I opted for fish - very nice. Great view overlooking Puerto Madero. I would imagine this would be a very romantic spot for dinner.

Coud not have asked for a nice day to eat in Puerto Madero

El Cuartito - Talcahuano 937 - This Tribunales-area pizzeria has been around for over 75 years. I went by for a slow Sunday lunch and I was clearly the only non-local in there. You can opt for a porcion of pizza (slice) or small or large sized pizzas. I ordered a small pizzaiola, an empanada, a glass of red and a bottle of water for under $7 USD. Really really good and just a nice local place. Can't recommend it enough. If you don't have time, grab a slice to go and eat at the counter.
Delicious, filling, cheap and very local - a great combination

Vinos y Sabores - Laprida 1805 - Tucked a few blocks north of Av. Santa Fe, this is a nice wine bar and bistro with a reasonably priced menu ejecutive and a great sidewalk location. I really enjoyed sitting at my shady table on a comfortable summer day. Perfect spot to take a load off and enjoy some coffee or a meal. Right on the border of Barrio Norte and Recoleta.

Vinos y Sabores was a great place for a nice lunch in the shade

Cluny - El Salvador 4618 - I stopped by Cluny for an afternoon coffee and pastry. The coffee was good, the pastry too large and excellent but the service was aloof and dreadfully slow. Yes, it has a wonderful terrace but the waitresses could care less whether you are being taken care of or not. I'm not one to demand much - I'm used to (and prefer) European-style service but the service at Cluny pretty much sucked.

BoBo Hotel & Restaurant - Guatemala 4882 - What can I write about the BoBo that I haven't written before - always an oustanding experience. The service is typically outstanding and the food is to die for. I highly highly recommend the menu' de degustacion... five delicious courses, all accompanied with wine. The price is a little steep for BsAs standards but it is so worth it!

One of five delicious courses at the BoBo

El Preferido de Palermo - Jorge L. Borges 2108 - On the same block as the BoBo is an old school lunch counter style restaurant called El Preferido de Palermo. It's been there since the 1950s and is a great place to grab a quick bite, a picada or a Quilmes. I made the mistake of going here before going to La Cabrera. Still, I really liked it... the owner reigns over his kingdom behind the counter, ringing up customers while waiters scurry about. A local favorite.

A quick picada at El Preferido before heading off to dinner

Speaking of picadas, while I didn't eat there on this trip, I definitely recommend stopping by Wela Pulperia in Buenos Aires Design for a bite to eat. We did this twice on our past trips - perfect place to nibble and get some sun.


Reviewing Five Cool Rooms

Now that I'm back in Houston, let's talk about Five Cool Rooms, my most recent hotel in Buenos Aires. Given that I had a choice where to stay, so long as I stayed within a certain limit, I opted to find a place in Palermo Soho. My preferred hotel, the BoBo, wasn't available so I tried a few different hotels and settled on Five Cool Rooms.

Let's start with the location - everyone talks about the location. It really is ideal... just two blocks east of Plaza Serrano and located in the middle of just about everything - restaurants, boutiques, bars - everything! Just two doors down is another hotel, SoHo All-Suites, as well.

The service was cordial although not "dazzling" like the BoBo. The front desk staff were always willing to help and to provide some insight although I can't say they would really go out of their way. Next to the front desk was the lounge area with a TV, books and cool furniture. Outside were a patio, some chairs and a hammock. A nice area to hang out, particulary on cool comfortable nights. Up two flights of stairs was the breakfast area, terrace and jacuzzi. Breakfast was relatively straightforward but provided everything I needed for a quick stay.

I opted for one of the large rooms (#101 on the ground floor) at $150 USD/night. The room had plenty of space - cool, minimalist furnishings and a reasonable amout of storage space. The bathroom was nice and open with a very large shower but no bathtub (don't really care about that). The bed was very comfortable and the A/C was more than effective - it actually would get pretty cold. Wi-Fi was available pretty much anywhere on the property and I would use my laptop in the lobby area, in my room and on the terrace. I can't speak for the other rooms but would pass the small rooms often and, yes, they were quite small. Spend an extra $20-30/night for a bigger room.

Overall, I was pleased. Given my later experience at the Presidente, Five Cool Rooms was a great hotel and I would definitely recommend it. The location is ideal, the rooms (so long as you upgrade) are reasonable and the overall experience made the expense worthwhile.


New experiences at great eateries in BsAs

I tried a few "new" (new for me) restaurants on my this last trip to Buenos Aires. I'll post reviews later but, off the top of my head, here are the ones I tried...

Lo De Jesus
La Cabrera
Bahia Madero
El Cuartito
Vinos y Sabores
El Preferido de Palermo

That includes some old school classics like El Cuartito near Tribunales/Retiro and some newer places like Vinos y Sabores in Recoleta. My favorite meal was at the BoBo... not new to me but still deeeelicious! Stay tuned for more. In the meantime, here is a big plate of Pacu' from Lo De Jesus...


Working Around the System

As you know, my flight from Buenos Aires to Houston was canceled. Mechanical problems, they say. Well, apparently they added a new flight today to accommodate those who are currently stuck in Buenos Aires since there's only one flight a day. The new flight leaves at 10:30 and there's a second (normal) flight that leaves at 11:50. All the passengers from yesterday's flight who weren't placed on other airlines are scattered among two hotels - the Presidente (shabby) and the Panamericano (for First Class customers).

Originally, they had told us they (their remise service) would pick us up at 7:00 for the 10:30 flight. I said... I'd rather be picked up at 6:00, knowing that the "crack team" at the airport will be trying to handle two flights. Well, someone else heard me and they asked for 6:00, as well. This morning, when I went down to ask when I had to check out, he said we could stay until they pick us all up at 6:00. All? Us? Sounds like my idea spread to others. What does that mean? I no longer have an advantage of getting ahead of the masses.

So, what am I going to attempt to do? I made a reservation with First Class Transfers to pick me up at my hotel at 5:00. Yes... I know... that will get me to the airport around 4:45 minutes early. Besides, I have to foot the cost - AR$150 - not cheap but it's a good service. Why would I do this? Well, let's think about this...

1. Continental will have the personnel to handle one flight (slowly) but will have to process two flights.

2. Now the immigration tax window will have to be able to process one additional wide-body flight... that's a couple hundred passengers.

3. Once you get through that line, you've got to go through the notoriously slow security line.

Given all that, I have no problem going to the airport early... just so long as tonight isn't cancelled, as well.

We'll see...

On a less-serious note, if you're staying in Palermo Soho, you should make it a point to go off the beaten path to Atipica - located at El Salvador 4510 near Scalabrini Ortiz. It's a great little boutique filled with handmade items from local artists - jewelry, art, housewares and more. The owner runs the Trendy Palermo Viejo blog and is very friendly. Her prices are reasonable and there is a really nice selection of items that you wouldn't normally see in other stores.

Signs that your hotel is a dump

You go to the airport to check in for your flight from Buenos Aires back to Houston and realize the line isn't moving at all. You wait and find out... the flight has been canceled. After two hours in line, you finally get to the front, get a new flight and are given vouchers for your overnight hotel.

Here are some handy signs that your airline-provided hotel is a dump...

1. It's ranked #237 out of #273 hotels in Buenos Aires

2. It has radio dials attached to the bed. The last hotel I visited that had this was a one-star hotel in Mainz, Germany (which, admittedly, had more charm than this four-star hotel). Note: I can't find a coin slot for pesos. That's a positive!

3. Your writing desk folds out of the wall

4. You have most of what you need to make a milanesa

5. You feel the need to put your suitcase against the room door so you can hear if someone comes in the room at night.

Which begs the question... do you take the free hotel or do you try to find something on your own. At midnight, you probably suck it up but if it was much earlier... that's a call you've got to make.


Great blog on food and travel

I somehow stumbled upon the Ms. Adventures in Italy blog in Italy and boy am I glad I did. If you look food and you like travel, this is a great blog. Lots of interesting stories on locations in Italy and other must-see spots like Turkey... you'll see that this person takes the types of photos I like to take... photos of food! I love the shot she took of the halva.

I'll pitch in with my own food photograph, just for kicks... a simply delicious rabbit dish from a restaurant in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.