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 pi�atas and Mexican blankets. Pictures of Frida Kahlo and others decorate the walls.
Recommended for Take Out because: Burritos travel nicely. They make the perfect take out food.
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.
A grand slice of old Buenos Aires, Las Violetas is a beautiful and historic place to have breakfast or tea and cake. Opened in 1884 and remodeled a couple of times since then, the cafe and confiteria is a vision of Italian marble, stained glass windows, columns, high ceilings and other classic details. In 1998, Las Violetas was named a Heritage Site. All of the tea specials involve hot drinks and platters abundantly filled with sandwiches, cakes and pastries, and are great for groups. Otherwise, opt for an a la carte slice of cake or pastry, such as the Leguisamo, named after the Argentine jockey who loved dulce de leche. This cake has a sponge cake base with dulce de leche, candied chestnuts, almond cream, meringue and flaky pastry covered in chocolate and fondant.
Recommended for Take Out because: Take out cakes and pastries bring classic Buenos Aires anywhere you want it.
Sarah's expert tip: If you are looking for a gift or simply want something for later, pop into Las Violetas' adjoining pastry shop. There you can order whole cakes, gift baskets and other sweet treats to go.
Located in Palermo adjacent Villa Crespo, Malvon is a great cafe and coffee house with a New York meets Buenos Aires vibe. The large bakery case inevitably holds your attention as you walk in the door with its mix of fresh croissants, scones, rolls and other fresh pastries and breads. Once past that temptation, you will find two dining room areas and a pleasant garden patio. The decor is highly eclectic but welcoming. Malvon's breakfast and brunch items are the stars of the menu, but the cafe is open all day for savory lunch and dinner fare and cocktails as well.
Recommended for Take Out because: Their freshly baked breads and pastries make tempting take out choices.
Sarah's expert tip: Besides the Malvon in Villa Crespo, there is a second Malvon location on Lafinur street in Palermo. This is very close to the Evita Museum.
This bakery and cafe serves exquisite French-style pastries and breads as well as sandwiches, salads and quiches in a casual dining environment. Prices are in the mid-range for the neighborhood. Cocu's menu is written in white on a large black chalkboard that rises high above the counter and the tempting vision of freshly baked breads and desserts. Here self-service is the word. You order and pay at the counter, and then you can seat yourself where you like. The furniture in the main dining room is simple, almost rustic, but still chic. When the weather is nice, try to snag one of the few tables outside. Free WiFi.
Recommended for Take Out because: At Cocu you can get fresh, French-style breads and pastries to enjoy at home.
Sarah's expert tip: You are bound to hear French speakers here. Brunch is available every day, but Cocu accepts cash only.
Vita is a charming, informal restaurant tucked a block away from the Plaza de Mayo. It provides respite if you need a break from BA's giant steaks and artery-clogging pizza. Vita focuses on healthier alternatives, like vegan, natural and organic foods, but that does not necessarily mean diet food. For breakfast Vita has freshly baked pastries and muffins as well as fresh squeezed juices and juice blends. For lunch you will find delicious but relatively healthier versions of stir-fry, pastas, pizzas, burgers and salads, but do leave room for cake. While primarily a restaurant, Vita also fancies itself a market, selling a small selection of natural and organic food products.
Recommended for Take Out because: Whole wheat medialunas and coffee with a splash of chestnut milk make a great breakfast to go.
Sarah's expert tip: Try their fantastic whole wheat medialunas, a healthier version of the traditional and everpresent Argentine pastry. If you want milk with your coffee or tea, they will offer you chestnut milk instead. It's not bad.
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.
Recommended for Take Out because: 1810 Cocina Regional is a good take out and delivery option.
Sarah's expert tip: In addition to the Palermo location, you can find 1810 Cocina Regional downtown and in the Belgrano neighborhood. All have lunch specials during the week.
Coffee Town caters to people who enjoy and know about coffee, offering a variety of specialty coffees and fair trade coffee blends from places like Guatemala, India and Ethiopia. However, Coffee Town is actually a small stall located inside the Mercado de San Telmo (an historic public market where you can buy a host of different things like spices, vegetables, meat, second-hand coats and antique signs). The pastries are good, but the set breakfasts are even better. You can eat at the pair of stools at the counter, the handful of tables surrounding the coffee bar or else take your drinks to go. The baristas are bilingual.
Recommended for Take Out because: Quality coffee to go when you need a caffeine fix in San Telmo.
Sarah's expert tip: Coffee Town's main draw is the coffee, but tea lovers are not forgotten. They also sell some good loose leaf teas served in clear teapots.
Located on the corner across the street from Buenos Aires' Botanical Gardens, the traditional Argentine style Cafe del Botanico makes for a great breakfast stop before or after visiting the gardens. While the cafe-restaurant is open all day, breakfast is where it shines. Order a cup of coffee and a couple medialunas for a classic Buenos Aires breakfast. The take away counter with a separate entrance also does a brisk business in Argentine pastries. There you'll grab a basket with tongs, choose your pastries, hand them to one of the shop assistants to count and wrap, and then pay at the cashier.
Recommended for Take Out because: The medialunas and facturas are a sweet take out option.
Sarah's expert tip: For a beautiful breakfast picnic, order coffee and medialunas from Cafe del Botanico's take away counter and then settle in on one of the Botanical Garden's benches.
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 decor is silly and fun; as an English speaker you'll probably notice the words "Bite Me" on the wall.
Recommended for Take Out because: Their sandwiches and wraps are a tasty take out option 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.
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, Guerrin, 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 Take Out because: A slice of Guerrin pizza glistening with cheese makes great take out.
Sarah's expert tip: Find yourself in the area for the theatre? Guerrin makes for a great, quick and cheap meal before or after a show. Pay at the counter first.