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Dining in Buenos Aires

By Anthony Head

Argentines absolutely love to eat out. In fact, next to polo and soccer, dining could probably be considered a national pastime. So restaurants abound throughout Buenos Aires, running the epicurean gamut from traditional parrillas (these steakhouses are easily spotted by stuffed bulls at the doorways) to sushi bars to numerous sidewalk cafes lining the busy streets — and they’re all incredibly affordable. Wherever you dine, remember that the population eats late. Really late. It’s common for restaurants to be packed at midnight and even one or two in the morning. 

La Brigada
Because traditional Argentine cuisine centers on the country’s famed beef, parrillas like La Brigada are among the most popular restaurants for locals and tourists. Here, waiters zip around holding aloft sizzling platters while keeping tempo with the tango music playing in the background. Chef and owner Hugo Echevarrieta carefully selects tira de asado, bife de lomo and other flavorful cuts — then demonstrates their natural tenderness by slicing them at the table with a spoon and fork.
 Lunch and dinner daily; entrées $7-11; Estados Unidos 465, Buenos Aires; 11.4361.5557.

Cabaña Las Lilas
Based on the waterfront in the restored warehouse district of Puerto Madero, this well-respected grill features exceptional cuts of beef delivered straight from its own cattle ranch. The house specialties, like rib eye and grilled lamb chops, are cooked to sublime perfection. Lingering over a meal is de rigueur in Buenos Aires, and Las Lilas tempts you to stay longer with a very fine premium rum collection as well as a humidor stuffed with Cuban cigars.
 Lunch and dinner daily; Avenida Alicia Moreau de Justo 516, Buenos Aires; 54.11.4313.1336; www.laslilas.com

Los Inmortales
Since Argentina’s population historically includes large numbers of Italians, it’s no surprise that Buenos Aires includes Italian culinary influences. Los Inmortales has been one of the capital city’s celebrated pizzerias since opening in 1950. It’s a nostalgic place, with lots of photographs of all the local and international celebrities who have dropped in over the decades to this well-heeled spot. The pasta and pizza—about 50 varieties—is worth dropping in for.
Lunch and dinner daily; entrées $5-10; Avenida Callao 1165, Buenos Aires; 54.11.4815.7551.

A talented crew of young Argentine chefs has infused the local cuisine with an imaginative selection of imported ingredients. Sucre, with its sleek post-industrial ambiance and heady aroma of wood smoke, presents marvelous examples of this nouvelle Argentine cuisine. Chef Fernando Trocca (also of New York City’s Industria Argentina) serves boneless Patagonian lamb and perfectly crisp goat sweetbreads alongside risotto with prawns and white truffle oil, and smoked pumpkin ravioli with amaretti.
Dinner daily; entrées $8-16; Sucre 676, Buenos Aires; 54.11.4782.9082; www.sucrerestaurant.com.ar

Modern French Mediterranean specialties are found at O’Farrell, where the husband-and-wife team of Hubert and Pamela O’Farrell create supremely satisfying dinners. Start with tapas selections like cured salmon gravlax, and figs and Gorgonzola wrapped in prosciutto; then move on to exquisite main courses, such as Mullard duck with bittersweet chocolate jus spätzle. The menu here proves there is much more to Argentine cuisine than beef. It also demonstrates why Hubert was recently invited to cook at New York’s James Beard House.
Dinner Monday through Saturday; Av. Del Libertador 15.274, Buenos Aires; 54.11.4742.4869; www.ofarrellrestaurant.com