Everyone likes a lunch deal – save a few bucks during the day and splurge on your supper, and BA ought to be full of them. With the favorable 4 pesos-to-the-dollar exchange rate, one would think that a dirt-cheap lunch is easy as pie. The truth is, Argentina’s inflation issue makes for constantly rising prices on just about everything, from rent to clothes to, well, lunch. Tracking down a budget-friendly midday meal is possible, though, given you know where to look. Give our favorite spots a try:
Chan Chan (Hipólito Yrigoyen 1390): Order well and this downtown Peruvian lunchroom can be very easy on your wallet. Spicy shellfish, endless ceviche, potatos with creamy huancaina sauce – this is an ideal place to give Peruvian food a try if you’ve never tasted it.
Chifa Man San (Perú between Estados Unidos and Independencia): This hole-in-the-wall San Telmo spot is a favorite for a budget meal. The food is Chinese-Peruvian, a very typical corner spot cuisine in Peru thanks to the high influx of Chinese in Peru. Order up some plates piled high with fried rice and ceviche and partake of the copious dishes of spicy Peruvian sauces. Best visited with a group, as the food is plentiful and dished up to share.
Desnivel: This, one of BA’s most famous steakhouses (“parrilla” to the locals), is a hot spot at any time of day and a recommended joint for trying out Argentina’s best: huge steaks, free-flowing red wine, french fries with garlic and parsley. But if you prefer not to spend your afternoon comatose, save the heavy stuff for nighttime and grab some empanadas at the counter. The little meat pies are deep-fried, gaucho-style rather than the standard baked, and are dripping little pockets of absolute goodness. And just 3 pesos a pop.
Guerrín (Av. Corrientes 1368): Buenos Aires is, along with being a steak town, a pizza town. The strong Italian influence means that these folks take their pies seriously, but don’t expect the light, crispy Italian pizza style; the Argentineans have mastered their own style of fluffy, thick pan-baked pies, absolutely drowning in cheese, that tends to feel more like dessert than your main course. This particular spot is one of the famous Avenida Corrientes joints, and one of the most popular lunch spots on the map. Order some slices with a “balón” (author’s loose translation: fishbowl) of Quilmes beer at the counter and join the lunch-hour businessmen at the standing room-only bar. An authentic BA lunch like no other.
La Fabrica del Taco: 3 words – tacos al pastor. Spicy, spit-fired pork stuffed into a soft tortilla, with a huge pile of guacamole on top. Their small size means you might have to eat 4 before feeling satisfied, but it won’t feel like a chore. By far the best Mexican chow in town.
California Burrito Company: BA’s answer to the southern California taco stand is a lovely respite for those who have gone overboard on the steak-and-malbec routine and need some fresh, light veggies and tortillas to give their cholesterol a break. The West Coast-style mega-burritos and spicy salsas come at just a few bucks a pop, and will tie you over for the rest of the day. And with branches downtown and in Palermo, the spot is easy enough to access whatever your day’s plans may be.