Top 5 “Bodegones” in Buenos Aires

(Photo by Tanoka)

A bodegon, as it is called in Argentina, is a typical neighborhood restaurant with certain common characteristics. The menu for example usually features what has become the local cuisine; a mix of European flavors mainly from Spain and Italy with a unique Argie twist. Then there’s the waiters, who are generally all men, in their forties, fifties and up, often clad in spick and span white uniforms. Finally these places are all full of history and character, which makes them one of a kind. Below are our top five.

Roticería Miramar: In the heart of the traditional tango barrio of Boedo, this charming traditional “rotisería” offers typical Spanish influenced Argentine food. A good wine selection completes their tasty menu. We recommend you try their oysters, cheese and cold cuts, amazing boquerones, and rabbit amongst other delicacies. San Juan 1999, Boedo, 4304-4261.

Spiagge di Napoli: Obviously Italian (as the name suggests), this well-known bodegon from the twenties is famous for its homemade pasta, specially its fusilli. Av. Independencia 3527, Boedo.

El Obrero: This mythical restaurant in La Boca neighborhood is a classic for visitors looking to taste typical Argentine dishes and great asado!  Decorated with football paraphernalia and antique wooden furniture, the cozy local vibe and great food make El Obrero is well worth the visit, although preferably during the day as the area is a little dodgy at night. Caffarena 64, La Boca, 4362-9912.

Albamonte: This traditional restaurant in Chacarita was founded by a group of restaurant workers who after losing their job in the late fifties decided to open up a place of their own. Today they are still going strong and serving some of the best local cuisine in town. Av. Corrientes 6735, 4553-2400.

El Preferido de Palermo: This typical bodegon that has been in Palermo since the 50’s has maintained its traditional style despite the areas modern boom.  The restaurant’s specialty are their potato tortillas, and other Spanish influenced dishes. Borges 2108, Palermo. 4774-6585.

A Special Tradition for the 29th of the Month

(Photo by paolo.r)

A special tradition involving gnocchi and money is carried out on the 29th of every month. It consists of gathering to eat gnocchi and placing money under ones plate for it to multiply over the following 29 days.

There are two versions of the origin of this odd ritual, neither which have been confirmed.

The first is a legend that dates back to the VIII century. It tells of Pantaleon, a young doctor from Nicosia who traveled to Italy after converting to Christianity. Once there he performed miraculous cures and was canonized. Then, on the 29th of one month, he asked some peasants for bread and they replied by inviting him to join them for a simple dinner. Saint Pantaleon was grateful and moved by their kindness so he blessed them and promised a year of extraordinary harvests. Indeed, that year the yield of their crops was copious and thus on the 29th of every month this patron Saint of Venice was remembered by a simple meal consisting of gnocchi.

Another story, tells of a famished town on a year when wheat had not yielded well. It is said that on the 29th someone came up with the potato gnocchi, saving the town from starvation.

Finally, the tradition is said to have been introduced to Argentina in the 70´s by a group of gastronomic journalists who gathered every month to eat a meal prepared by one of them. On the 29th of the month one of them decided to make a simple plate of gnocchi to commemorate the legend of Pantaleon. It was a big hit and soon after, the “Club del Ñoqui” was created, gathering people from different cultural and social backgrounds for one gnocchi meal a month. Since there were a lot of journalists involved, the tradition quickly spread, and was adopted as an excuse to gather with friends, eat a great plate of gnocchi and hopefully multiply the monetary crop of the month.

Want to try some gnocchi eating and magical money making yourself? Book a table at one of the following recommended Italian restaurants.

Doppio Zero: Open Tue- Sat 8.30pm- closing and Sun 12.30pm-4pm. Soldado de La Independencia 1238, Las Cañitas. 4899-0162

Ill Ballo del Mattone: Gorriti 5737, Palermo. 4776-4247

Sottovoce: Open everyday from 12-4pm and 8pm-closing. Av. Libertador 1098, Recoleta. 4807-6691.