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Guest Article: A Random Walk Down Palermo, Buenos Aires

by Denise Medrano
(Denise is a tour guide in BA. If you want an organized tour, write her at
denisemedrano@gmail.com)

Palermo is one of the trendier parts of town and for good reason. Within it's confines situated between Santa Fe Ave. and Cordoba Ave., can be found a plethora of bars and eating establishments.

Ranging from the latest New York wannabes to the die-hard old school parrillas still thriving on the street corners.  Palermo is divided into Palermo Hollywood and  Palermo Soho. The  dividing line between the two is Juan B.Justo Ave. which neatly bisects the two areas. The most commonly told story about how the areas got their names is that in the mid 90's a savvy real estate agent wanted to promote Palermo. He jumped on the fact that a couple of local tv studios are located there and appended Hollywood to the barrio. Soho from the fact that the neighborhood has a bit of a bohemian flavor to it, arguments abound over whether it's the NYC  or the London Soho being referred to. There are so many great places in Palermo and I'm always discovering new places. It's worth noting that most restaurants have a lunchtime M enu del dia which usually includes appetizer, main course, a glass of wine or soft drink and coffee or dessert for between 10 to 20 pesos. Lunchtime hours are from noon to 3pm and dinner from around 8:30 pm onwards. Here are a few worth visiting.  

One of my favorites of the old school parrillas is a place called La Dorita http://www.parrillaladorita.com.ar/.  It's situated on the corner of Humbolt and Costa Rica in the barrio of  Palermo Hollywood.  There are two La Dorita's sitting catty-corner to each other. I personally prefer the one with the upstairs terrace (Humbolt 1892, referred to as  de entrente). Some say that say there is no difference in the way the meat is grilled but to most Portenos, those are fightin' words. The decor is reminiscent of the old west with simple wooden chairs and tables and wrought iron candelabras made of empty red wine bottles scattered overhead throughout the dining room. Hanging over the very small bar as you walk in are 5 oak wine barrels labeled with the house wines. The most jarring thing about the decor is the huge, garish, pastel painting of a family that dominates the back wall of the dining room. Both La Doritas feature full parillas which include all the cuts of meat you could want and more. If you are a fan of sweetbreads and other innards, this is the deal for you. It's all you can eat for 22 pesos, you can always tell them to leave off the innards and just bring more meat. The menu ranges from meat to meat with a few pastas and grilled chicken thrown in for the weak. The appetizers feature empanadas, chorizos, morcillas and my favorite, queso al parrilla, round slabs of grilled cheese. There is also a make your own salad selection (choose from a variety of gustos or ingredients) and what parrilla wouldn't be caught dead without papas fritas . The wine list is representative but not extensive. I always order the house wine because it's tapped from the barrels hanging over the bar and served in penguin shaped pitchers. Until about 15 years ago most bars and restaurants in Buenos Aires served their house wines this way but sadly the penguin pitchers are going the way of the Dodo bird. La Dorita is one of the few restaurants still serving wine this way. Happily, the penguins are for sale (25 pesos) so you can take home a bit of La Dorita with you. And since this is located in Palermo Hollywood, WiFi access is available.
 
For pizzas and empanadas, Romario (Fitzroy 2109, corner of Fitzroy and Soler, http://www.romario.com.ar)  although it is part of a chain, is a laidback pizzeria with a sidewalk as well as a rooftop terrace where you can munch away on their numerous traditional pizzas and empanadas. 
 
For traditional Japanese cuisine and sushi, Dashi (Fitzroy 1613, http://www.dashi.com.ar) is one of the best restaurants in town. While it may be expensive by Argentine standards, it's a bargain for the quality and level of  food and service. The sushi is always fresh and there is always fresh tuna in house, something that many other sushi joints in town aren't always able to offer. Beware of the canned tuna that some unscrupulous restaurants try to pass off in a tuna roll. Don't forget to save room for dessert. Although this is a Japanese retaurant, Dashi has the best American style cheesecake in town. As matter of fact, it's the closest I've found to the real thing in Buenos Aires. The wine list is small and pricy.  
 
I was walking along Honduras Street the other day when I stumbled across a new bar-bookstore that has recently opened. Eterna Cadencia (Honduras 5574, Palermo Hollywood). The bookstore is divided in two but it's difficult to tell from the street that the two establisments are connected. The bookstore seems a bit out of place on the streets of Palermo. The decor is dark wood and leather, rather like what you would imagine an English gentlemen's club to look like. I almost expected Jeeves to jump out at any moment and announce that tea was being served. But don't let that fool you. The idea behind this particular establishment is to lure you in with it's wide selection of books in both English and Spanish and then get you to settle down with a nice cocktail on the cafe side. The cafe couldn't be more different. Where the bookstore is dark, the cafe is all light. The cafe is an enclosed patio with a 25 ft high glass ceiling which gives you the feeling of sitting outside but with the added bonus of A/C, something not to be taken lightly in those sweltering BA summers. I would say the decor more closely resembles a North Africa motif with tan walls, turkish style hanging lamps and a fully stocked bar on the far wall with an upright piano situated above the bar. The bar features live music in the evenings Wed. thru Saturday. To the side of the bar there is a small passageway that leads to the wine cellar, and directly behind the bar, the 'living room', a collection of very comy sofas grouped around a very sturdy coffee table. There is a small bar menu serving sandwiches and a few main course dishes but the main attraction of this bar is to just chill out. A rooftop terrace with evening entertainment is scheduled to be opening soon. 

 

 

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