In our Dame series, resident fatty and food writer Kevin Vaughn rounds up three of his favorites for a particular theme or neighborhood. This week he tackles the neighborhood of Villa Ortúzar where old school bars and bodegones reign supreme. 

Flan Mixto at Bar Oriente | Av. Álvarez Thomas y Plaza

a flan con crema fit for the dioses

The menu at Bar Oriente is a daily changing menú del día with your run of the mill porteño treats. Think gargantuan milanesas, estofados and raviolis. And while the milanesa a la napolitana is worth grabbing a seat, it’s the flan mixto, one of the restaurants few constants, that is worth coming back again and again. 

“The flan might paralyze you, as it did me, and make everything else in the room disappear. A plop of sweet whipped cream the size of a tennis ball is like a fog; it dissolves in the mouth almost immediately and wraps around the tongue like a sugary blanket. It is sweet but never cloyingly so. The ambrosian dessert is slick textured and as yellow as a bumblebee. It spills over with a summery caramel that tastes like honey right off the comb.” Read the full article here.

Merluza al roquefort at Cervecería López | Av. Álvarez Thomas 2136

Eating at Cervecería López is entering a pact with a benevolent food god to magically eat for five. Career waiters carry plate after plate of cheeses, escabeches, olives, roasted vegetables and cold cuts to seasoned diners. Or how about a plate of fried rabas and an ensalada rusa con jamón crudo paired with a two liter pitcher of draft to open up the appetite for the flopped over milanesa a la napo con fritas? Childs play. 

I like the merluza al roquefort precisely because it doesn’t taste that much like roquefort. Heavy on the cream and likely whisked with some mozzarella, the nebulous cloud of queso looks like a pizza from La Mezzeta without the actual pizza and is more akin to a perfectly made mac n cheese than an astringent blue cheese sauce. The merluza is the perfect neutral medium to scoop up the decadence — flakey and tender with enough structural integrity to act as a vehicle to shovel all the cheese into your mouth. 

Milanesa de cerdo at Los Norteños | Av. Forest 1296

This hole in the wall on a sun baked section of Av. Forest is mostly used as a rotiseria for the neighborhood’s working folk. Grab a seat for lunch and a near non-stop parade of plastic wrapped carry out flies out of the kitchen without a single diner actually sitting down. The menu changes every day with the exception of a few minutas. I cross my fingers each time to find myself saddling up to a milanesa de cerdo. Ham is loudly pounded in the back, dipped in egg and smacked with bread crumbs on order. 

Pork is infinitely better than it’s bovine counterpart. Juicier and butterier in flavor, it’s either slathered in a homemade chunky tomato sauce or covered in grilled onions a la fugazzeta. Once you’re done, hop over to Oriente for a flan. 

Bonus track:

Keep your eyes peeled on Mas Que Comer, Villa Ortúzar pop up run by young cooks and wine aficionados Teo Furlong and Milagros Brasco that combine food with natural wines. Traditional french bakery L’épi Boulangerie (Roseti 1769) has an excellent selection of sourdough bread (minus the snobbery) and pastries.