If you know anything about me, you know I am
mildly extremely obsessed with food. I love reading about it, writing about it, looking at it, thinking about it and of course, eating it. This blog would not be complete without a review of my eating experiences in Argentina, so without further ado…
5. Veggie Club, Junin y Santa Fe
As a California girl who grew up in the Salad Bowl of the World (reppin’ Salinas whaaaat), I am accustomed to eating meals that are colorful and fresh and healthy. Being thrown into this extremely carnivorous city was a bit of a culture shock. Of course I indulged in plenty of beef—it’s what Buenos Aires does best, after all—but sometimes you just need a reprieve from all that red meat.
Located only a block away from my school, Veggie Club was my savior. This tiny hole-in-the-wall lunch destination offers a multitude of vegetarian offerings, helping me maintain some semblance of balance to my diet. I went there at least three times a week. The restaurant is take out only and functions on a pay-by-weight system, so you go down the buffet line and take as much or as little as you want, letting you sample all of the delicious veggie treats. They have excellent soy sausage, calabaza quiche and avocado salad, as well as beautiful fresh fruit and cream for dessert. While the other patrons are extremely rushed and pushy and will not hesitate to cut you in line, the staff are super friendly and always rounded my bill down if I didn’t have exact change.
I love you Veggie Club. Thank you.
4. Empanadas at La Catedral, Sarmiento 4006
I ate more than my fair share of empanadas while in Buenos Aires and I never had a bad one, but these were hands down the absolute best. They tasted like there was so much care put into making them, and I finished with a silly involuntary smile on my face. Check out my post here to read all about them and my experience at La Catedral.
3. Parilla Completada at Las Cabras, Fitz Roy 1795
I will sorely miss feasting on a budget the way I feasted in Buenos Aires. For my going away dinner, a bunch of friends and I went to Las Cabras in Palermo. The six of us split a few bottles of wine, a few appetizers and the Parilla Completada. This mass of meat is something that should be featured as a challenge on Man v. Food. Luckily none of us were trying to take this on single handedly, because it surely would have been a death sentence.
Featuring several cuts of steak, a couple types of ribs, chicken, chorizos, morcilla (blood sausage, which was my absolute favorite), chinchulines (intestines), kidney and quite possibly more, this is a vegetarian’s worst nightmare or a meat fanatic’s dream come true (see for yourself). Everything was incredible and perfectly cooked, and it left us all in a deep meat-induced food coma. It was awesome. And crazy cheap. All of this food and wine cost us a whopping $18 each. Unbelievable.
2. Bife de Chorizo at Desnivel, Defensa 855
If there is one meal you need to eat before you die, it is this steak. This beautiful slab of beef haunts my dreams still, and it has been several weeks since the experience. Desnivel is a parilla in San Telmo serving up impecable food in a no nonsense, no frills style. When you order a steak, you get a steak. No sides, no distractions—you just get a hunk of beef that they toss in your general direction as if you were a ravenous lion…or maybe that was just me because I looked like a ravenous lion that day…
Style and service aside, I have never in my life, before or since then, tasted a steak so perfect. It was tender, rich, juicy, full of flavor and beauty (feast your eyes) and love and honestly beyond adequate adjectives. I have probably though about that steak every day, as if it were a long lost love. Is that unhealthy? Maybe. I don’t care. That steak changed me.
1. Panchos at Nac y Pop, Corrientes y Uriburu and several other locations
I consider myself to have a pretty refined palate. I thoroughly enjoy gourmet meals and complex tastes, and I had plenty of those experiences in Buenos Aires. Despite that, my very fondest memories and favorite meals were my panchos at Nac y Pop.
One late night (well, early morning really) my friend and I were walking home from a club. We were tired and hungry and in serious need of some post-drinking deliciousness, but it seemed as though everything was closed. We were about to call it quits and deny our rumbling tummies when we rounded the corner and caught site of Nac y Pop, a shining, fluorescently lit red and white haven, calling us like moths to the light, beckoning us in with its inviting “24 hrs” sign.
As this was at the beginning of my trip and my Spanish was still minimal, I had no idea what most of the menu items were. After a few failed attempts and getting explanations from the guy that worked there, I ordered a pancho and hoped for the best. I was thrilled when I found out what I had ordered was really a hotdog. A hotdog! Amazing. And then he asked me if I wanted to top it with papas fritas. Of course I wanted to top it with papas fritas. I handed it back over and he piled on a heap of little crunchy shoe string french fries and I became exponentially happier. I then turned around and beheld the most beautiful site in Buenos Aires: bottles and bottles and bottles of condiments. This went way beyond your typical ketchup, mustard mayo trio. There were multiple flavors of all three of those, plus cheese sauces, mystery sauces, awesome sauces and my favorite Argentine classic, Salsa Golf (basically just ketchup and mayo mixed together).
But wait, there’s more. Next to the bottles of sauces were bowls of sauces, featuring a chimichurri, a pico de gallo type thing, and something super spicy. Argentina seems to have an utter lack of spicy foods. The foods they think are spicy aren’t even enough to send a tingle down my tongue, but this sauce here, this was spicy. I was in heaven.
After my condiment party, my pancho was more sauce than hotdog, which is exactly how it should be. The guys behind the counter were probably in horror of my friend and me and our sauce binge, but I had no shame.
Nac y Pop became a ritual for us. We were probably a great source of entertainment for the employees as we stumbled in to the otherwise deserted eatery at ungodly hours week after week, inhaling dirt cheap panchos with papas fritas and allll the condiments.
My new goal in life is to bring Nac y Pop to the US and open franchises on college campuses everywhere so I can share panchos with all of my fellow hungry after-party zombies.