Comfortable Juana M is not your typical parrilla. The restaurant is located in a spacious basement with contemporary art covering the walls and candles set on all the white tables. The menu consists of barbequed meats as well as pastas. The salad bar, which is free when you order a main dish, is great and can also be ordered by itself if you are looking for a healthier meal. For lunch, Juana M opens earlier than most places in the area do, at noon, although most diners roll in around 2 pm. It is a good place to bring a group.
Recommended for Lunch because: Juana M is a nice, good value place to eat in Retiro.
Sarah's expert tip: Juana M is a good option if you have a group with disparate tastes or requirements. You will find choices on the menu for carnivores, vegetarians, carb lovers, dieters, celiacs, etc.
For a hip, subtly innovative take on the traditional parrilla, look no further than Miranda, an industrial-chic steakhouse located on a corner of two cobbled streets in Palermo Viejo. Settle in on one of their wooden bench-seats and prepare to dig in. Classics like bife de lomo (tenderloin) and cerdo (pork) are updated and served with imaginative sides like papas rotas (literally, "broken" potatoes), colorful salads such as "Antonia" (sprinkled with sunflower seeds) and super-soft bread made on the premises. Even vegetarians are catered to with Miranda's selection of grilled vegetables. When the weather is nice, you can ask to sit outside.
Recommended for Lunch because: Miranda presents a great blend of Argentine parrilla and Palermo cool.
Sarah's expert tip: If you're in the area during the day, try Miranda's good-value set lunch. Otherwise, try to make a reservation if you prefer to come for dinner.
Thanks to the large waves of Italian immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, pizza is everywhere in Buenos Aires, but the quality is known to vary widely. However, Güerrín, opened in 1932, is one of the best of the old classics concentrated on Avenida Corrientes and is considered an institution of good Buenos Aires pizza. Here the pizza comes Argentinian style: thick, pie-like wedges with lashings of cheese. Stand for a slice at the counter at the front for a quick bite or settle in for a feast and a bottle of moscato (sweet wine) in the back. Prices are low.
Recommended for Lunch because: Güerrín is responsible for some of Buenos Aires' best pizza.
Sarah's expert tip: Find yourself in the area for the theatre? Güerrín makes for a great, quick and cheap meal before or after a show. Pay at the counter first.
This Palermo Soho steakhouse stalwart hasn't been much swayed by the trendification of the neighborhood and continues to serve choice cuts without gimmicks in a comfortable, traditional space. Think rustic style but still charming. Service at this Buenos Aires steakhouse is always warm and knowledgeable; this is the perfect place to acquaint yourself with the happy marriage of Argentinian beef and wine. Let the waiters at Don Julio help you if you find yourself overwhelmed with the large wine list. As could be expected, they specialize in Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Try to sit outside when the weather is nice.
Recommended for Lunch because: Don Julio does meat like it should be done in BA.
Sarah's expert tip: Come to Don Julio for the grilled cuts of meat copiously washed down with bottles of Argentine wine, but stay for the flambéed figs with ice cream.
Casual but upmarket, Tiendas Naturales is an organic cafe and restaurant located in the Palermo neighborhood. Tiendas Naturales is open throughout the day (in fact, every day from 8 am to midnight) and serves baked goods, sandwiches, salads, wraps, hamburgers and pastas, in addition to teas, juices, smoothies and cocktails. Bring your smartphone or laptop to take advantage of the free Wi-Fi. You have your choice of different types of tables inside, or the cafe tables for two outside. Otherwise, you can order fresh bread and pastries to go, or have them delivered, and go explore one of the nearby parks.
Ask the locals and the expats: they will all tell you that Che Taco is the best Mexican food restaurant in Buenos Aires. You'll find lots of taco, burrito, quesadilla, nacho and sandwich choices, as well as different sauces (including habanero) if you want to kick the spice up a notch or three. Just don't skip the guacamole. Then to drink, choose from Mexican aguas frescas, beers and cocktails. This informal San Telmo restaurant is decorated with lots of bright colors as well as touches like festive piñatas and Mexican blankets. Pictures of Frida Kahlo and Cheech Marin decorate the walls.
Recommended for Lunch because: Simply put, the food is awesome. It's the go-to place for good Mexican food in Buenos Aires.
Sarah's expert tip: The food is great and the drinks are big; it's a recipe for wanting to stay a long time. If you come at night though, know that Che Taco closes relatively early for Buenos Aires.
Named after a famous Parisian bar, the Buenos Aires version of Bar du Marché is a small but exceedingly charming French-style restaurant. Open all day and specializing in wine and cheese, Bar du Marché is as good an excuse as any to while away the afternoon over a great bottle of wine and some fantastic food. If you don't feel like a full meal (even though their multi-course meals are quite excellent), try their cheese and charcuterie plates. When the weather is nice, you can sit at one of the French-style café tables outside. Bar du Marché also does a nice brunch.
If you want good and fast with a side of cool, El Banco Rojo is your place in Buenos Aires. And as its name suggests, you'll know you're at the right place when you see the red bench outside. This small San Telmo restaurant offers up different types of wraps and kebabs with home-made potato chips. (You'll probably never want to look at a bag of Lay's again.) Take a seat on one of the stools in the informal dining area or ask for your food to go. The spartan food-themed décor is silly and fun; as an English speaker you'll probably notice the words "Bite Me" on the wall.
Recommended for Lunch because: El Banco Rojo makes a tasty lunch spot in San Telmo.
Sarah's expert tip: El Banco Rojo is vegetarian friendly, which is not always the case in BA. There is plenty for meat eaters, but vegetarians have some options too.
While the Buenos Aires dining scene is often dominated by steak, pizza and pasta, there is more to Buenos Aires and Argentina, and 1810 Cocina Regional is a good example of that. There you will find traditional Argentine fare like meat and vegetable stews; delicate empanadas filled with ham, chicken or cheese; as well as home-style desserts like flan, rice pudding, alfajores, cheese with quince paste and dulce de leche mousse. The somewhat elegant decor evokes Argentina's colonial past with dark woods, black tablecloths and horseshoes used in napkin holders, but the prices are reasonable, making it a good choice for the budget conscious who are looking to dine.
While traditional-style parrillas offer much to love, when you want a change from the rough and ready decor and barbecue fumes, the minimalist but stylish Minga, located in pole position on the plaza in trendy Palermo Viejo, fits the bill quite nicely. The interior is all clean lines and subdued colors (beiges, pale wood and exposed concrete), and the restaurant experience is up a dozen notches from the average parrilla joint. The meat comes in on cutting boards accompanied by little dishes of sauce. You'll find that their salads and sides have a lot more oomph than your standard parrilla fries.
Recommended for Lunch because: Minga serves high quality food in a relaxed atmosphere opposite Plaza Armenia.
Sarah's expert tip: Minga opens at noon so you can just as likely enjoy a leisurely lunch with plaza watching as get in a good dinner before partying in Palermo Viejo. Minga's drinks list is ample.