A guide to the best Argentinian restaurants

Spoilt for choice, from meat at Don Julio’s to the Jewish delicacies at Mishiguene. Plus icon Francis Mallmann

24-01-2017

Episode six

A one-week visit to Argentina, between Bariloche and Buenos Aires, can be told in a dozen or so episodes, not seven as in this case due to the fact there are many events coming up and news cannot wait. For instance, at Madrid Fusion, between Monday 23rd January and Wednesday, the country to follow will indeed be Argentina so I’ll pass on the baton to Gabriele Zanatta who’s in the Spanish capital.

Now, in this space, I’d like to remember all the excellences I discovered or were pointed out to me so that this list can be useful to those who’ll visit this huge South American country.

Restaurants: they’re all in Baires except three, starting from Cassis in Bariloche, with chef Mariana Muller, known as China given the Asian traits of her eyes, and her husband Ernesto Wolf. They will speak at Identità Naturali on Saturday 4th March in Milan.

A close up of Pablo Rivero, patron at Don Julio in Buenos Aires. Behind him, chef Guido Tassi who also contributes to the success of this excellent chargrilled meat restaurant

A close up of Pablo Rivero, patron at Don Julio in Buenos Aires. Behind him, chef Guido Tassi who also contributes to the success of this excellent chargrilled meat restaurant

I had the pleasure to dine in their historic place but they’ll soon be moving to the family home «because I want to join hospitality and my daily life». For now, these details are valid: Ruta Pcial 82, Km 6,500, Lago Gutiérrez, Peñón de Arelauquen, tel. +54.294.4476167; mob. +54.294.4506430. The second is Pampa Roja in Santa Rosa, in La Pampa province. The owner, Mariano Braga, is the protagonist of the fifth episode of this story.

Everything and everyone else is in the capital, starting from Don Julio in Guatemala 4699, the kingdom of meat, thanks to a family of butchers. Pablo Rivero enriched the offer by adding a grill on which the various cuts are prepared masterfully. The collaboration with Guido Tassi, who obviously has Italian roots, completes the richness and pleasantness of the place.

Mishiguene, in Lafinur 3368, is instead a space dominated by chef Tomas Kalika. He presents it as an establishment offering “Cocina de Inmigrantes” which sounds fine but doesn’t reveal much as in Argentina almost everyone is an immigrant or has an immigrant heritage. To be precise, they offer excellent Jewish cuisine. Ask for the table at the far back, next to the kitchen. And do not order the cauliflower.

A peculiar entrance for a very rich looking fine dining place such as Tegui of chef German Martitegui in Buenos Aires. The contrast is intended, of course

A peculiar entrance for a very rich looking fine dining place such as Tegui of chef German Martitegui in Buenos Aires. The contrast is intended, of course

A four handed dinner shared between Muller and German Martitegui, patron-chef at Tegui in Costa Rica 5852: an evening in his restaurant, offered me the pleasure of tasting once more the Patagonian raw materials they had gathered together. However this meant I didn’t get to taste the real cuisine of the most acclaimed chef in Argentina, a careful champion of Argentinian products, so much so he has no other wines. Tegui is the only restaurant in Argentina that got into the World’s 50 Best in 2016, won by Massimo Bottura, in the second part, which includes places from 51 to 100. It was 68th. It went better, much better, in the list of the 50 Best Latin America: 9th place (while Virgilio Martinez’s Central in Lima, Peru, was first).

Dining at Mishiguene in December 2016 in Buenos Aires, with journalist Julia Perez Lozano and the restaurant’s chef Tomas Kalika

Dining at Mishiguene in December 2016 in Buenos Aires, with journalist Julia Perez Lozano and the restaurant’s chef Tomas Kalika

The top 50 in South America recommend, on top of Tegui and Don Julio (21st), seven more places, all in the capital except one: at number 13 there’s Fernando Rivarola’s El Baqueano; molecular chef Gonzale Aramburu’s Aramburu is 26th; Elena, the craveable corner at the Four Seasons, is 31st, with Jean Gaffuri in the kitchen; Gaston Riveira’s La Cabrera is 33rd, a temple of chargrilled meat; Maria Soledad Nardelli’s Chila is 35th, a female chef at last; finally, Pura Tierra is 50th. Here Martin Molteni goes in search of Pre-Columbian raw materials and recipes. In Mendoza there’s 1884 Restaurante with Francis Mallmann and Dan Alterman beside him, 42nd. Mallmann is an icon in Argentinian cuisine, and has also opened in Baires, Uruguay and in Miami, Florida.

6. To be continued. Here are episodes one, two, three, four and five.


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