Day 426: Buenos Aires, Argentina
I know this is such a bold statement to make but I don’t mince words. I have eaten a lot of food in Buenos Aires, much of it has been mediocre and some of it has been really great but the only place I could rave about is Cafe San Juan. For me it is the best restaurant in Buenos Aires – at least of all the restaurants I’ve visited.
The first night I arrived in Buenos Aires I went out with some people in the hostel to Cafe San Juan, someone heard from a friend of someone it was good but I had no idea it would be amazing.
We were lucky because we arrived when the restaurant first opened and saw them turn away dozens of people who did not have reservations, but despite their popularity they didn’t try to rush us through the meal.
Argentina is good that way.
Not so much.
Cafe San Juan busts my daily budget of $30/day but after a few weeks in Buenos Aires I had to throw all hopes on staying within budget out the window and was ecstatic when Stephanie and Jeff from Lengthy Travel said they also wanted to go.
Christopher Leandro is the chef of his family’s restaurant and has become famous after a reality series appeared on Fox Mundo about the opening. It’s an interesting story as Leandro is a pro skateboarder and was abroad for a while before coming home to open the restaurant in Buenos Aires.
All of the restaurant guides list the food as “porteña” which is ridiculous as his food is so much better, unless it is defined as food made by a porteño but I suspect he has been influenced by his travels abroad and his Hungarian grandmother.
Whatever it is, Buenos Aires needs more of it.
We started with rabbit pate (lead photo) with a port reduction, I don’t normally order pate as it’s an organ and one of the 5 things I do not like eating (grapefruit, green pepper, eggplant, liver, kidney) but it came highly recommended and I can see why, it was a fantastic balance of smooth saltiness against the sweet port.
Tired of eating steak all the time I also ordered rabbit stew with polenta. I’m not sure it qualifies as a stew but as they gave us the English menu it could simply be a difference in the translation. Regardless, I don’t want to complain as it was delicious.
I was happy Stephanie ordered the pumpkin gnocchi, what I devoured my first night. She liked it so much she considered coming here for her next birthday.
But the star of the lunch was Jeff’s pork bandiolo which was so unbelievably tender it was falling apart as I was trying to take food from Jeff’s plate.
They also served a bacon-wrapped onion which Jeff generously shared. It wasn’t the cheap bacon you see wrapped around steak but delicious, artisanal bacon.
I heart Leandro.
When I returned home and looked at the photos I realized that when I took a shot of the kitchen Leandro peeked his head in. It’s probably for the best that I didn’t realize it. I like his food so much if I had known it was him I would have wanted to meet him but then been like a silly, awkward groupie.
The only skater references I know are Pennywise and Tony Hawk – definitely would have been embarrassing.