From old favourites to the latest openings, humble parrillas to high-rise haute cuisine, Alejandro Iglesias names the best venues to wine and dine at in the Argentinian capital...
Buenos Aires: Wine bars and restaurants
Buenos Aires is famous for its elegant European style and multicultural energy. Every neighbourhood displays a fascinating, and individual atmosphere: some have a bohemian and fiery tango spirit, others are glamorous, or cool and trendy. In all of them the colourful cultural mix is combined with a tremendous offer of art, design and gastronomy, positioning Buenos Aires as one of the must-visit capitals of the world.
Historically, gourmands visiting Buenos Aires were told to enjoy the excellent beef and sip a nice Malbec. However, over recent years the culinary offer has widened, and wine has gained more prominence. The city today has a thriving scene including new wine bars, sophisticated restaurant wine lists, and busy wine stores with original tastings and a buzzing atmosphere. There is no better time for wine lovers to visit Buenos Aires.
Fly from Buenos Aires to Mendoza with Aerolineas Argentinas, to complete your Argentinian wine tour. See our Mendoza travel guide here.
Buenos Aires – The newcomers:
Shout Brasas & Drinks, Downtown
After working at several restaurants and hotels, Sebastián Maggi opened Shout in 2014. Here, he indulges in his creativity with 32 wines by the glass (£6 to £20) on show in four wine dispensers. The labels are divided by style and are offered in serves of 250ml, 125ml or tasting sample, and he focuses on high-end wines, such as Diamandina’s Viognier, Noemía’s Malbec or LTU’s Malbec. Original wine-based cocktails are also served, such as Cali, a spin on the Negroni but using Pinot Noir, or the Dandy, a Tom Collins with Moscatel. The food is classic Buenos Aires cuisine but with a Mediterranean flair – perfect small plates to match with a glass of wine. Ask about the wine flights of the day.
Shout Brasas & Drinks, 981 Maipú St, Tel: +54 11 4313 2850, www.shoutbar.com.ar Open Monday to Saturday 7pm to 3am. Small plates from £6.
This is the new restaurant at the Fierro Hotel. Its name refers to the wine region everyone’s talking about: the Uco Valley. The wine list, with 300 labels, was developed by Andrés Rosberg, president of the Argentinian Sommeliers Association and a Decanter World Wine Awards judge. ‘We only offer wines that we like,’ he says about the labels he selects with his two sous sommeliers and the chef. Daily they offer 14 wines by the glass, flagging up exciting offerings from new Argentinian producers as well as nontraditional grapes such as Albariño, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Ancellota or Criolla. Irish chef Ed Holloway is in charge of the kitchen, which focuses on local meat, fresh fish and homemade charcuterie.
Uco, Fierro Hotel, 5862 Soler St, Tel: +54 11 3220 6800, www.fierrohotel.com Open daily from 12.30pm. Seven-course tasting menu with wines from £45.
M Salumeria, Palermo
‘We offer a friendly and casual environment to enjoy wines from around the world, paired with selected gourmet products,’ says sommelier Mariana Torta of this Italian cantina that has become the new trend-setting spot among Buenos Aires’ wine lovers. The menu highlights include pasta, tortillas, hams, cheeses and charcuterie – simple flavours with top-quality ingredients. There is a choice of 20 wines by the glass (starting from £4 for a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc or local Bonarda), selected daily and served exclusively in Riedel glasses. Wines by the bottle are also available, with stars including Achaval-Ferrer and Sassicaia. It is a communal space, with two large tables to encourage guests to sit together, surrounded by hams and cheeses which age on site, as well as old bottles that adorn the walls.
M Salumeria, 5777 El Salvador St, Tel: +54 11 4778 0655. Open Monday to Wednesday until 9.30pm, and Thursday to Saturday until 12.30am. No bookings, except for large groups for dinner.
Buenos Aires – The trendy crowd:
Elena Restaurante, Retiro
The relaxed and contemporary restaurant at the Buenos Aires Four Seasons Hotel has set a new standard for luxury hotels in the capital. The kitchen delivers impeccable grilled meats, fish and seafood, as well as classic local dishes with a modern twist. The wine cellar, which can be viewed from the reception desk, boasts 170 different Argentinian wines, 12 of which are available by the glass; including Achaval- Ferrer’s Quimera, Mendel’s Semillon, Colomé’s Torrontés and Luigi Bosca’s Sparkling Brut. Ask for the Annual Sommelier Selection – a wine list with 26 outstanding labels. If you just want a quick bite or a cocktail, drop in to Pony Line, the hotel’s bar.
Elena Restaurante, Four Seasons Buenos Aires, 1086/88 Posadas St, Tel: +54 11 4321 1728, www.fourseasons.com/buenosaires Open daily 12.30pm-1am. Main courses from £7.
Bar du Marché, Palermo
Hidden in Palermo’s streets is this wine bar with Parisian bistro soul. Its wine list offers 50 labels (from £4 for a local rosé or fresh Malbec) in various glass sizes, as well as small (187ml) and medium carafes (375ml). ‘Customers come for the three cheeses/three wines tasting (£9) and then they let us surprise them with a tailor-made flight,’ says manager, Mariela Invernizzi. The wine list featuring Argentinian wines, New World labels and gems from France and Spain changes every month, and includes a host of emerging producers and exciting styles, such as Ji Ji Ji’s Malbec-Pinot Noir blend which triumphed at Decanter’s July 2015 issue panel tasting. Tapas, small plates and excellent sushi are part of the dinner menu.
Bar du Marché, 5946 Nicaragua St, Tel: +54 11 4778 1050, www.bardumarchepalermo.com Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am-12am. Small plates from £5.
Aldo’s Vinoteca, San Telmo
‘Aldo’s (pictured top) is an embassy for Argentinian wines in Buenos Aires,’ says sommelier Aldo Graziani – a judge at the Decanter World Wine Awards. With his team, he has chosen the restaurant’s 500 bins – featuring wines from the country’s largest producers and those from boutique labels. Aldo’s is the city’s favourite spot for winemakers to launch their wines, and diners can even enjoy bottles at retail prices here. The kitchen, run by Maximiliano Matsumoto, offers modern cuisine, and each Thursday there is a five-course tasting menu that Graziani pairs with some of his prestigious wines. On weekends, there’s 20% off on wine purchases to take home. Graziani also runs a jazz club from the basement, where he offers a nice selection by the glass to enjoy with live music.
Aldo’s, 372 Moreno St, Tel: +54 11 4334 2380, www.aldosvinoteca.com Open daily. Dishes from £7.
Buenos Aires – Luxury choices:
This gourmet spot is considered the best haute cuisine restaurant in the city, ranked ninth in Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Chef Germán Martitegui offers a complex, 12-course tasting menu, with wines carefully matched to each plate by head sommelier Martin Bruno. It’s an unforgettable foodie experience.
Tegui, 5852 Costa Rica St, Tel: +54 11 4770 9500, www.tegui.com.ar Open Monday to Saturday for dinner. Tasting menu with wines from £100
Palacio Duhau Restaurant & Vinoteca, Recoleta
Since opening in 2006, Palacio Duhau’s cellar has played a leading role in promoting Argentinian wines. This is a classic, luxurious destination restaurant whose modern cellar houses a collection of 400 Argentinian bottles. Every Wednesday the sommelier holds a tasting to showcase the diversity of local wines, featuring labels such as Colomé’s Torrontés, Barda’s Pinot Noir and Salentein’s Late Harvest dessert wine. The Hyatt’s Masters of Food & Wine Festival is a key event on the calendar of Buenos Aires’ gourmands.
Palacio Duhau Restaurante & Vinoteca, Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, 1661 Alvear Av, Tel: +54 11 5171 1234, www.buenosaires.park.hyatt.com Open daily from 12pm. Main courses from £12.
Buenos Aires – Old favourites:
Gran Bar Danzón, Downtown
Fifteen years ago, Luis Morandi opened the first Argentinian wine bar. Since then, this spot has become an after-work staple for Buenos Aires’ wine lovers thanks to its daily happy hour and good music until late in the evening. Along with a wide selection of cheese and charcuterie, sushi and appetisers, it offers 20 wines by the glass (from £5). For those wanting dinner, the full wine list boasts 350 Argentinian labels with exclusive verticals such as Catena Zapata’s Estiba Reservada from 1991 to 2007, as well non-traditional grapes such as Albariño, Barbera and Carmenere.
Gran Bar Danzón, 1161 Libertad St, Tel: + 54 11 4811 1108, www.granbardanzon.com.ar Open daily from 7pm. Small plates from £6.
Oviedo Restaurante, Barrio Norte
Emilio Garip is a true bon vivant. Since 1986 his high-end restaurant has been a must-visit for those who love good food and fine wine. The Mediterranean-influenced cuisine works well with his collection of Argentinian labels, which is probably the most complete worldwide. The cellar holds some 16,000 bottles, among which there are historic gems such as Lagarde’s Cabernet Medalla de Oro 1980, Luigi Bosca’s Malbec 1983 and Norton’s Barbera 1988, plus verticals of current labels such as Val de Flores, Noemía, Viña Cobos and Cheval des Andes, among others. Among the 750 bins of international wines, you can enjoy famous names such as Vega Sicilia’s Unico, Château Margaux and Château d’Yquem.
Oviedo Restaurante, 2602 Beruti St, Tel: +54 11 4821 3741, www.oviedoresto.com.ar Open Monday to Saturday 12pm-2am. Main courses from £10
Parrilla Don Julio, Palermo
There are many parrillas (steak houses) in Buenos Aires serving great beef, but very few with lists that really appeal to wine lovers. Don Julio changed all that. Its owner, sommelier Pablo Rivero, believes great beef deserves great wine, and his list has 380 labels, with a prominence of natural wines that ‘express the terroir and current winemaking trends in Argentina’. Wines are served by the glass or in mini decanters (all Riedel), and feature exciting names such as El Enemigo’s Malbec and Escorihuela’s Gascón Viognier or Malbec de Angeles. There’s a good selection in large-format bottles, too. The highlights from the grill are the sweetbreads, the sirloin strip steak and the skirt steak. A tradition at Don Julio is to sign the (empty) bottle you drank and add it to the enormous collection on displayed for diners to admire.
Parrilla Don Julio, 4691 Guatemala St, Tel: +54 11 4831 9564, www.parrilladonjulio.com.ar Open daily 12pm-1am. Dishes from £6.
In 2006, Joaquín Alberdi opened this wine store, which holds a selection of 500 Argentinian wines, including rarities, vertical collections and large-format bottles. Alberdi enjoys sharing wines and stories, so the store quickly became popular for its events: he offers wine tastings daily and every Thursday holds Meat & Drink: an asado (barbecue) where guests can mingle with visiting winemakers and try their wines – with Alberdi in charge of the grill. Look at the website for other events.
Ja!, 1772 Jorge Luis Borges St, Tel: +54 11 4832 5329, www.lodejoaquinalberdi.com Open daily from 11am-9pm.
Soil Wines, Downtown
This small wine store has a selected catalogue of more than 300 luxury Argentinian wines as well as exclusive international stars, such as Pétrus, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Screaming Eagle. The shop is run by two sommeliers who also organise private tastings on site, where among the local labels you can enjoy Malbecs from Viña Cobos and Noemía’s Malbec or Chacra’s 55 Pinot Noir. They also offer wine delivery to your hotel, or can organise for your wines to be shipped internationally.
Soil Wines, 970 Libertad St, Tel: +54 11 4811 0664, www.soilwines.com.ar Open Monday to Saturday 10am-8pm.
Alejandro Iglesias is a sommelier, wine writer and educator who co-founded the Argentinian wine app Vinomanos.