Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city full of culture including a world-class food scene and some of the most lauded restaurants in South America. We’ve eaten at all of these 17 tried and true dining options and we can tell you that these acclaimed restaurants in Buenos Aires are iconic for a reason.
17 acclaimed restaurants in Buenos Aires
In our last post, we explained how the more relaxed and adventurous post-pandemic food scene in Buenos Aires laid the groundwork for a new crop of exciting chefs and notable restaurants in the city. The pandemic also affected the star-studded world of high-end, acclaimed, and historic restaurants in Buenos Aires with some iconic restaurants closing (including Proper and Tegui) and some leaving the city (El Baqueano, for example, moved north to Salta).
But many world-class restaurants remain and they’re part of what makes Buenos Aires one of the most dynamic food capitals in Latin America right now. We know. We spent months gobbling our way through the city so we can tell you about these 17 restaurants in Buenos Aires.
Argentina is currently going through yet another massive shudder in its economy which means that menu prices are changing daily in some cases. Therefore, we have not included specific prices in this post though it’s safe to assume that most of these dining options are more expensive than many other restaurants in Buenos Aires (but still great value because of the current exchange rate) unless noted as being on the affordable side.
50 Best list restaurants in Buenos Aires
We’ve eaten at all of the restaurants in Buenos Aires that are on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants (and a few that appeared on the list in years past). Here’s what to expect when dining at these chart toppers.
Don JulioThe one restaurant in Buenos Aires that you’re most likely to have heard of is Don Julio which, in recent years, is at the top of many of the most prestigious lists of restaurants including #2 on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and #14 on the 2022 list of the World’s Best Restaurants. Not bad for a steak house….but what a steak house. The owners raise and butcher their own (exceptional) beef and produce all of the other meat products they offer (sausages, etc.). The restaurant, in the Palermo area of the city, also has one of the best wine cellars in Argentina bursting with more than 14,000 bottles representing the most compelling wines being made in the country right now. Toss in classy steakhouse ambiance and great service and you’ve got a winner on your hands. Did we mention the free-flowing champagne for diners while they wait for their table to open up? Reservations are strongly, strongly suggested (it can be easier to get a lunch reservation than a dinner reservation). If you can’t get a reservation, turn up and wait for a table (the champagne helps).
ChilaIf Don Julio has mastered one specific aspect of Argentinean cuisine (the parrilla meat extravaganza), Chila, in the Puerto Madero neighborhood, is casting a much, much wider net. This Relais & Chateaux restaurant (#26 on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants) offers adventurous tasting menus full of dishes that tap into Argentina’s regional bounty in ways that surprise and delight. Expect the unexpected like a delicate white corn and shrimp bite served atop a hefty wooden orb (pictured above, left) and leek foam with chopped hazelnuts on an ash of pureed leeks with strips of tender pickled bark (pictured above, middle top). And we’re still dreaming about the tiny, perfect, handcrafted tortellini stuffed with shrimp that were doused tableside in a broth of reduced water used to cook mussels then studded with a few whole mussels for maximum flavor (pictured above, bottom center). Reservations required. UPDATE: the talented minds behind Chila have recently pivoted the concept and the restaurant is now operating as Amarra, a host kitchen that presents the work of a rotating roster of visiting chefs who take over for a few weeks at a time.
Gran DabbangDon’t want to get dressed up, commit to a multi-course tasting menu meal, or pay a lot of money? Head to Gran Dabbang for chart-topping food that’s casual and affordable. This small, simple restaurant, in the Palermo neighborhood of Buenos Aires, opened in 2014 and has been on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for years (it sits at #48 on the 2022 list) thanks to Asian-inspired food from Argentinean chef Mariano Ramon who keeps dishes like crunchy and light Swiss chard pakoras and deeply-spiced smoked lamb curry bursting with flavor, not attitude. Dinner only. And they don’t take rservations, so show up around opening time or be prepared to wait for a table.
MishigueneThere’s no place we’d rather be on a Friday night in Buenos Aires than at Mishiguene in the Palermo neighborhood of the city. Here, chef Tomas Kalika (pictured above, bottom left) has earned a spot on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for many years (this place is at #15 on the 2022 list) and has elevated and redefined Jewish food in general by riffing on his grandmother’s recipes. The menu here is serious about elegant versions of classic comfort food like smoky babaghanoush like you’ve never seen (or tasted) it before (top center), pirogis, and pastrami slow-cooked for 13 hours (bottom right). And every Friday night, Shabbat is celebrated at the restaurant with the arrival of a klezmer band that roams around the dimly lit dining room energizing the scene. Reservations required.
Alo’sTechnically speaking, Alo’s is just shy of the 50 Best list. However, with a placing of #53 on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants (WAY up from #97 on the 2021 list), and a stellar reputation among food lovers in Buenos Aires, we’re willing to give it a pass (and we predict they’ll move into the top 50 next year). Alo’s offers an ala carte menu, a tasting menu, and a tight compelling wine list. Created by Alejandro Feraud, the kitchen is now often helmed by chef de cuisine Clara Corso (pictured above, middle left) who explained that the restaurant’s logo, a big black ant, is an ode to their belief that the Alo’s team is unstoppable when it works together. Pro tip: reserve seats at the bar facing the open kitchen where you can see all the action and go for the tasting menu so you can really enjoy what those ants can do with dishes like one perfect oyster served over rough salt and topped with spicy, zingy “bloody mary” and firm fish roe (top left) or sausage on a bed of rice simmered in stock made with twice reduced shrimp heads and finished in a tiny cast iron pan to create an overall chewiness and a delectable “burned” bottom (middle middle). Alo’s is well worth the (easy) trip to the San Isidro suburb of Buenos Aires. Reservations required.
ElenaThere are plenty of noteworthy luxury hotels in Buenos Aires, but the Four Seasons is the only one that’s home to a 50 Best restaurant. Elena (#40 on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants) is a huge space with an open kitchen, high ceilings, a mezzanine level, lots of wood and leather, and a glassed-in dry-aging cabinet for meat. The menu, designed to please the hotel’s international guests, is equally huge with seafood, grilled Argentinean beef (much of it aged in-house), duck, goat, lamb, pastas, and more. Our grilled octopus appetizer (pictured above, top right) was tender and bold. The bitter leaves salad was huge and balanced with fennel, radish, perfectly sliced grapefruit, and creamy feta. Black rice with mixed seafood (bottom left) came steaming and fragrant in a cast-iron skillet straight out of the oven. Tender lamb shoulder fell apart under the mere threat of a fork. Pro tip: be sure to save room for ice cream including flavors like roasted quince, passion fruit with candied cucumber, and salted and smoked peanut (bottom right).
AramburuAt #36 on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and a Relais & Chateaux restaurant, Aramburu, in the Recoleta neighborhood of the city, leads the fine dining pack in Buenos Aires in many ways and their tasting menu meals are epic. So we were excited as we finally sat down for dinner at Aramburu. Eighteen courses and four hours later, we had mixed feelings. Yes, the dimly lit room is impeccable and romantic and the open kitchen is compelling. Yes, it’s playful and enjoyable that there is no cutlery on the table for the first 10 courses which were meant to be eaten with our hands. Yes, most dishes were beautiful and some dishes–like sweet, tender, smoky, seared asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, sweet peas, and edible flowers in a subtly-sweet tart (pictured above, top right)–were memorably delicious. Yes, the wine flows freely. However, meaningful disappointments like being served the exact same wine (Ernesto Catena Alma Negra Blanc de Blancs sparkling wine) for the first six courses, weak substitutions for our friend who does not eat fish or seafood, and, at the end of the meal, being told that the cash discount officially offered by the restaurant does not apply when paying in Argentinean pesos left a bad taste in our mouths.
El Preferido PalermoEl Preferido Palermo, in the Palermo area of Buenos Aires, has been a go-to spot for beloved classic dishes like enormous milanesas (pounded and breaded beef or chicken), homemade pasta dishes, Spanish tortillas, and French fries since 1952. After being taken over by the team behind Don Julio, the El Preferido menu has expanded to also include fresh takes that retain respect for the classics. Don’t miss the morcilla (blood sausage) with a fried farm-fresh egg in a hot skillet with thick, fragrant, sizzling slices of morcilla topped with pepper that adds kick and smoke (pictured above, bottom left). The radicchio and walnut salad (bottom right), made using the elongated leaves of the milder strain of radicchio (like a cross between radicchio and endive) and topped with sweet and creamy shaved walnuts, is also a winner. Topped with vinegar for brightness, this salad is tender, sweet, bracing, salty, crunchy, and satisfying. And that’s why El Preferido is at #22 on the 2022 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Narda ComedorArgentinean chef, TV personality, and author Narda Lepes opened Narda Comedor in the Belgrano area of Buenos Aires in 2017 and this chic cafe/restaurant has been amplifying her pragmatic yet passionate advocacy for eating less meat ever since. To be clear, she’s not pushing for everyone to become vegetarian and the menu at Narda Comedor, which has been on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants for years (she’s at #87 on the 2022 list), includes some wonderful meat dishes. But Narda is committed to proving that a meat-free dish can be just as indulgent and satisfying. Case in point: her crunchy, light tempura eggplant dish perfectly mimics the texture and shape of shrimp. Narda Comedor also offers wonderful set lunch meals on weekdays and this is one of the few restaurants at this level in Buenos Aires that’s open all day long from breakfast through dinner with no afternoon break.
Tried-and-true restaurants in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is more than big enough for a whole host of other beloved, iconic, acclaimed restaurants well beyond those that appear on the 50 Best list. Here are our favorite tried-and-true places to eat in Buenos Aires.
Café MishigueneOpened by the same team behind Mishiguene (which we raved about in the section above), stylish Café Mishiguene, in the Palermo area of Buenos Aires delivers a pared down, more casual (but no less buttoned up) offering of Jewish food favorites. Of course, you can get a bagel and lox and there’s a succulent pastrami sandwich (pictured above, left) and don’t miss the lajmayin which is a kind of Middle Eastern pizza. It comes piping hot out of a real Italian pizza oven topped with fresh tomato sauce, an herby green sauce with a mild jalapeno kick, and a very generous portion of lamb sausage (right). It’s delicious and filling and you can eat it with your hands.
Casa CaviaCasa Cavia is an elegant indoor/outdoor restaurant crafted in a mansion in the Palermo Chico neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Trendy ladies who lunch, ambassadors, and travelers in the know come for food that is meticulous and gorgeous, service that’s polished, and an atmosphere that’s serene and stylish (there’s a working flower shop in the central garden). Inventive and well-executed dishes include tender, sweet, and juicy shrimp with toasted corn and creamed corn soup poured tableside (pictured above, top right). When we were there, the kitchen guinea pigged us with a new dessert (pictured above, bottom right) of dense chocolate mousse (more the consistency of frosting) with finely diced black olives topped with a sticky, sweet, seeded cookie. The combination of flavors (sweet, bitter, smoky, umami) and textures (creamy, oily, crunchy) was great and we hope this dish is on the menu by now. Bonus: the somms really know their Argentinean wines.
Cucina Paradiso MercatoFor years, Cucina Paradiso Mercato shop and restaurant, in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood of the city, dished up beloved Italian dishes and sold ingredients for home cooks. The original location has now gone gluten-free and six spin-off locations (with full-gluten offerings) have cropped up around the city. Read your menu carefully (most, but not all pastas are homemade) then get ready for perfect cao y pepa, pillowy focaccia, and rich rabbit ragu. We hope they can keep quality high as they expand.
Yiyo el ZeneizeThe best part of our visit to Yiyo el Zeneize, in the Parque Avellaneda area of Buenos Aires, came right at the beginning. We arrived at this historic place on a whim on a weekend without a reservation which meant we had to wait for a table. While waiting, we were placated with sangria (made with their own white wine) served in charming etched vintage stemware along with small plates of some of the best olives we’ve ever had. That makes sense when you remember that Yiyo el Zeneize, which recently celebrated 100 years in business in this same corner location, started as an olive processing operation. The stroll through the rambling building to our table revealed a structure heaving and crumbling under the weight of its years and the proliferation of olde timey paraphernalia. First, a paper bag with a fresh roll and a slice of focaccia arrived along with a sweet and creamy whipped carrot spread. Then, despite the fact that we’d asked for dishes one at a time, all of our dishes arrived at once. Unfortunately, fried empanadas filled with mortadella and mozzarella (pictured above, bottom left) were bland and a bit greasy. The chipa baked dome was filled with excessively sweet pulled pork (bottom middle). Pique de hembra, slices of nearly tasteless beef marinated in citrus and Magi over rustic cut fries and sliced cherry tomatoes, was not improved by the very sweet pepper jelly that came with it. Yes, the sense of living history and the festive atmosphere are pleasing, but the food did not justify the schlep out to this part of town.
Kōnā CafeTwo culinary powerhouses put their minds, hearts, and talents together to open a dauntingly ambitious project in the Belgrano neighborhood. The brainchild of celebrity chef Narda Lepes (of Narda Comedor which we wrote about, above) and Ines de los Santos, creator and cocktail wizard of CoChinChina (which we included in our post about Where to Drink in Buenos Aires), KōnāCorner is not like anyting else in Buenos Aires. Inspired by Japanese purity and artistically simple satisfaction (both of which they nail), the low-lit downstairs dining room (Narda’s domain) stuns with Japanese classics in an easy serene setting rolling forth from a zen-like open kitchen. The elegant upstairs bar (where Ines reigns) is full of views, intimate nooks and crannies, and drinkable surprises (a martini riff made with soju and pickled bamboo, for example). This may be a newcomer (opened in early 2023), but it’s hitting all the right notes right out of the box. We sincerely hope this is not the last collaboration from these two.
Dada Bistro, in the Retiro neighborhood, was one of the very first places we ate at during one of our earliest visits to Buenos Aires. It remains a favorite because of the true bistro ambiance, small but solid menu, welcoming bar, open-all-day hours, and Mateo from Venice holding court and welcoming all with grace. This is the stylish yet casual bistro every neighborhood needs.
La CabreraLa Cabrera has been slinging meat in the Palermo area of the city since long before Don Julio was conceived. It’s a no-nonsense place for no-nonsense meat and it’s home to the Meat Happy Hour. Every day between 6:30 pm and 8:00 pm the La Cabrera annex across the intersection from the original La Cabrera location offers 40% off everything on the menu (including wine) and they’re not skimping on portion size. Everything we ordered, including mollejas (sweetbreads), morcilla (blood sausage), arugula salad, and a butterflied bife de chorizo (strip steak), was huge. Pro tips: Since you will literally be kicked out at 8 pm (at which point staff reset the dining room for an evening of patrons paying full price), it’s best to have your order ready when you sit down so your meal is not too ridiculously rushed. And you can’t make a reservation for the meat happy hour, so turn up by 6:15 to get a spot in line. It’s not elegant, but it is nearly half price.
Many, many years ago–during our very first visit to Buenos Aires–we celebrated Eric’s birthday with our friend and colleague Michael Luongo at El Obrero in the La Boca neighborhood where we were (pleasantly) overwhelmed by the blaring soccer matches on the TV, no-nonsense service, and crowds of locals (some fancy, some very much not) whoofing down huge portions of Argentinean favorites. To call this place, which opened in 1954, a classic bodegon (traditionally, an affordable restaurant for immigrant workers offering dishes from the homeland) is an understatement. There’s a chalkboard menu, the walls are covered in futbol paraphernalia and snapshots of famous patrons, and the TV seems to be always showing a soccer match. Family-owned El Obrero closed during the pandemic, of course, and it looked unlikely that the place would be able to re-open until investors stepped in to get the doors open. In 2022 we visited El Obrero again with our friends Megan and Barrett and we are happy to report that the family is still running things, portions are still huge, and soccer is still being shown on the TV to a crowd of loyal locals.
See our favorite new-breed restaurants in the city in our post about where to eat in Buenos Aires right now. Got a favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires that you don’t see on our lists? Don’t keep it to yourself! Tell us all about where you love to eat in Buenos Aires in the comments section below.
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