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Best bets for dining in Buenos Aires

Best bets for dining in Buenos Aires: Frommer's pick the best places to get a taste of Latin America.
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Best ParrillaYou probably heard of this place long before coming to Buenos Aires, and Cabaña Las Lilas, Alicia Moreau de Justo 516 (tel. 11/4313-1336), deserves every bit of its reputation. It's expensive for sure, running about $35 for a complete meal, but it's worth it: The cuts of beef are so soft, they almost melt in your mouth. In spite of the price, it's casual too, so come in sneakers and shorts if you want.

Best Cafe Experiences
Café Tortoni,
Av. de Mayo 825 (tel. 11/4342-4328), might not have the best service in town, but the incredible history and beauty of this cafe more than make up for that. This was and remains Argentina's intellectual coffee spot of choice, and even the culture-seeking tourists don't overwhelm the space. Sit outside at La Biela, Av. Quintana 596 (tel. 11/4804-0449), in glamorous Recoleta overlooking the world-famous Recoleta Cemetery. From the view to Iglesia Pilar to the wonderful shade of the gum trees on its sidewalk, this is Buenos Aires at its best.

Best Authentic Old Buenos Aires Dining
Buenos Aires is full of trendy places, but the surefire bets are where Porteños have eaten for decades. Ham hangs from the rafters and steaks are as thick as the crowds at the Spanish eatery Plaza Asturias, Av. de Mayo 1199 (tel. 11/4382-7334), but the staff is so busy you can get hurt trying to find the restroom with all the running around they do bringing food from the kitchen to the tables. For more than 40 years, fish lovers have flocked to Dora, Leandro N. Alem 1016 (tel. 11/4311-2891), an unpretentious but high-quality and high-priced spot on Paseo Colón that's worth every penny.

Best Seafood
Argentina has a long coastline, but it has always been the turf, not the surf, that gave its chefs culinary inspiration. There are two places that defy this trend, including, as above, Dora, Leandro N. Alem 1016 (tel. 11/4311-2891), the unpretentious seafood spot businesspeople and those in the know have eaten at for 40 years. The other, Olsen, in Palermo Viejo at Gorriti 5870 (tel. 11/4776-7677), serves up an interesting twist on seafood, Scandinavian-style, with flavors that are very different from anything on the menu elsewhere in Buenos Aires.

Best Cigar Bar
Argentine culture might not be as macho as it's reputed to be, what with female presidential candidates and powerful first ladies, but that ultimate symbol of masculine domination, the cigar, persists at the Plaza Bar, Marriott Plaza Hotel, Calle Florida 1005 (tel. 11/4318-3000). Here, in a streamlined Art Deco setting reminiscent of Rockefeller Center, men and, more recently, women puff away over business talk.

Best Italian Restaurant
With over half of Buenos Aires from Italian immigrant stock, it's hard to go wrong finding good Italian food in this city: Most parrillas offer an excellent array of pasta, usually homemade on the premises. The best formal Italian dining experience in the city, however, is Piegari, Posadas 1042 (tel. 11/4328-4104), in the Recoleta La Recova area, near the Four Seasons hotel. Their selection of food concentrating on northern Italian cuisine is superb, and they have a stunning array of risottos in particular.

Best French Restaurant
La Bourgogne
, Av. Alvear 1891 (tel. 11/4805-3857), in the Alvear Palace, is hands down the best French restaurant in Buenos Aires, and it has been the recipient of numerous awards. Yes, it's very formal and very expensive, but what else would you expect from such a place?

Best Restaurant for Kids
, Scalabrini Ortiz at Cerviño (tel. 11/4511-6600), is an Armenian restaurant chain with what one British ex-pat friend of mine loves to call a "jumpee castle" she can bring her kids to. The best one is in Palermo Soho, and adults can eat in peace while the kids entertain themselves on the indoor playground.

Best Value Restaurants
Little-known family-run Juana M, Carlos Pellegrini 1535 (tel. 11/4326-0462), a small parrilla on the very end of Avenida 9 de Julio in the Recoleta district, wins this distinction for sure, with great meat cuts and an unlimited salad bar, where most meals with drinks hit under the $5 mark. If you're in Puerto Madero, head straight to La Bisteca, Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 1890 (tel. 11/4514-4999), a chain restaurant with an all-you-can-eat menu offering high-quality cuts of meat along with a generous salad bar. It's a huge space, but the seating arrangements create a sense of intimacy, and at these prices, it can't be beat.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed restaurants, visit our online dining index.

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