Para leer la versión en español de este artículo, hacé clic acá.
Winter was already a season that I drew out comfort with food—fifteen months of pandemic has multiplied that tendency infinitely. Soups and stews, homey roasts, fresh baked warm bread, preferably eaten while wrapped up in a soft blanket and watching a good movie. For those of us with the economy to support local restaurants and indulge in takeout, here are some options to warm your bellies. It is important to be conscientious of how we support restaurants. Before making your order, please think carefully about supporting restaurants directly and not tossing your money at third-party foreign apps that don’t care about us, our economy, their freelance employees or the businesses they serve.
A (sort of) home cooked meal at Vallegrande
“It is a rare restaurant in Buenos Aires– and not necessarily because of the dishes on the menu. Here, there are no roots firmly planted in any single food culture. Latin flavors from the Caribbean and Peru rub elbows with vague nods to the Mediterranean and local comfort foods. What is special is how those dishes are prepared and who it is prepared for. Sourdough bread is baked every day by baker Gastón Fernández from a laundry list of organic and sustainable flours. In the kitchen, Pilar Rosales builds dishes out of seasonal produce, pasture-fed beefs, organic grains and environmentally friendly cheeses. Suppliers are slowly adapting to bringing products in reusable tuppers rather than plastic bags, and natural cleaners swap out industrial chemicals.”
In the winter, this approach to menu building means warm comfort foods with familiar foods from across Latin America like potato enchiladas doused in chile laced tomato sauce, roasted plantain with beans, rice and lots of cheese and zucchini pastel served with fresh corn tortillas. Everything can be accompanied by Fernández’s signature sourdough made fresh daily or almojabana, a Caribbean take on the Argentine chipa.
Orders via WhatsApp: +54 9 11 4914 5888
Bonus Track (for more agroecological-friendly restaurants): Americano, Donnet
Ramen and Bao at Chinofino
Chinofino opened their doors swinging. A few weeks before the pandemic hit, they launched half their menu with just a handful of electric and portable burners while waiting for a gas connection. I had the chance to dine twice at their sleek Palermo Soho location where an open kitchen allows a prime view at all the action: steaming pots of buns, the warm aroma of pork broth and the sounds of handmade noodles being tossed into pots of boiling water and bowls of of delicious ramen.
The menu plays with mostly Japanese and Chinese flavors and was quickly refined for delivery, of which I had the chance to try once, personally delivered by the crew themselves. The house special is the chashu, pork that is slowly braised until tender served in a dense pork broth that grows in intensity with every spoonful. My favorite is the Dan Dan Mian, borrowed from Sichuan cuisine, made with a lighter chicken broth and a healthy smack of sesame paste. Ground pork adds a chewy texture alongside chunky peanuts and a stream of spicy chile oil wraps it all together. Baos are a great compliment–try out the fried chicken Hot Byrd and ask them to go wild on the hot sauce.
Orders via WhatsApp: +54 9 11 3125 1180
Bonus Track (for more soups and pan-Asian dishes): Mian, Cantina Sunae, Kyopo, Fukuro Noodle Bar.
All the tacos and picante at Ulúa
“The boys at Ulúa, led by chef Antonio Bautista, sommelier Freddy Morapee, and business partner Jesús Cabale, are the most traditionalists of the bunch. When putting together their menu, they called their moms for family recipes. They refuse to serve their tacos with forks and knives and, although their dishes aren’t spicy without shoveling on salsa macha, nearly everything is laced with chiles brought from home. You could start with a plate of nachos with fresh corn tortilla chips planted firmly into a mound of black beans and sprinkled with pico de gallo. You would be smarter to order the chilaquiles, the same chips smothered in an addictive red sauce and a barely cooked egg. Fresh corn masa is stuffed with slow braised oxtail and formed into triangular tetelas — imagine an empanada arabe — and topped with a touch of queso fresco. A taco del día option is constantly rotating but always comes back to a slow braised pork carnitas served simply with pico de gallo.”
The delivery menu has been crunched down to protect the quality of dishes with heavy emphasis on market items which include a variety of salsas (get the damn salsa verde!), mole, tortilla chips and corn tortillas to assemble your own taco night at home. There are also tacos for two with their signature carnitas, fresh guacamole and my favorite, red chilaquiles. Morapee has done an excellent job building their wine menu with carefully selected rosé and whites (grab that rosé de malbec) alongside the public’s dependence on reds (go for the Cabernet Sauvignon before you resign to the Malbec).
Order via WhatsApp: +52 55 6214 9069
Bonus track (for more LATAM-inspired deliciousness): Sol Negro, 13 Fronteras, Panachef.