Today in Buenos Aires, it is 73 degrees. A lovely temperature, but for a day on which I had to do a lot of walking, it is way too hot. As I headed home, all I wanted was a giant glass of iced tea. Luckily, I live not too far from a Starbucks. Why was this lucky, you ask? Because Starbucks is the only cafe I’ve found in this city that serves iced tea.
Given the tons of cafes that exist in this city, I find this a bit strange. But apparently, porteños really are not a fan of iced drinks. The major chains have their versions of Frappuccinos, most of which are filled with dulce de leche and just a bit too sweet for me. But iced tea, iced coffee, iced lattes? Not a chance. Still, there’s lots of great food here, so these are my Top 5 Favorite Treats in Buenos Aires.
If you’ve ever heard anything about Argentina, it’s most likely about steak, red wine, and tango. And with good reason – the tango is fun, the red wine I like (which is quite a feat since I’m normally not a fan), and the steak is out of this world. I tried my first Argentine steak at Don Julio a couple of weeks ago, coupled with french fries and a bit too much Malbec. I believe I had lomo (tenderloin), which was excellent in itself. But then I tried a friend’s, and wow. The steak was tender, juicy, and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. And I only had one bite!
For a broke college student, empanadas are a lifesaver. Most are about 4 pesos each – that’s $1 US. They’re everywhere and come with a variety of fillings. My favorite filling so far has been carne agridulce, a type of sweet meat. But I’ve only found these at one restaurant, Il Migliore. Lucky for me, Il Migliore is right across the street from school. Still, the best empanadas that I’ve had are on this restaurant Thames between Charcas and Gulnes. I hesitate to call it a restaurant, because it has one plastic table, a counter, and a large kitchen with a glass window so you can see inside. I can’t remember the name of this place, but they heat the empanadas up in the oven and they’re soo good. (Excuse my descriptions - I’m really not a food writer, as you can see.) They also serve pizzas here, and have a variety of empanada fillings based off of their pizza toppings. I haven’t tried any yet, but maybe I’ll be adventurous next time.
One of my favorite parts of the submarino is the fact that I can make it at home! A submarino is just a bar of dark chocolate dunked into a glass of steamed milk. At least that’s the basic version. Rosie keeps getting different variations of this drink when she orders them, which is especially strange given that it’s at different branches of the same chain (Cafe Martinez). I really wish they had an iced version, because soon it’ll be too hot to be drinking submarinos.
If I had to pick my favorite treat out of the 5 here, it would probably be an alfajor. An alfajor is basically a cookie sandwich, with any of several fillings – although dulce de leche is the most popular, seeing as this is Argentina. There’s several variations on these alfajors, such as the Oreo alfajor, and alfajor ice cream, which is made by Nestle, weirdly enough. But my favorite so far has been the alfajor cake, available at Cafe Havanna. I don’t know how they did it, but the texture and flavor is almost identical to a real alfajor. It’s extremely rich, though, so I recommend splitting with a friend.
A medialuna is basically a croissant, but it doesn’t taste like any other croissant I’ve ever had. It’s not as flaky, for one thing, and it’s also very sweet. Porteños like their medialunas (and everything else) filled with jamón y queso – that’s ham and cheese to us Americans. The sweet and rich combination is OK, but they don’t meld well, and I can’t shake the feeling that I’m eating too entirely separate foods as opposed to one sandwich. I prefer my medialunas by themselves, with a nice hot cup of café con leche.
But right now, I am thoroughly happy with my venti iced tea from Starbucks. I’m writing this post on my homestay family’s lovely balcony. After the agony that is midterms, I will be headed on fall break, which at this moment consists of Uruguay, Mendoza, and Bariloche, a city that just happens to be the chocolate capital of South America. It’s 73 degrees a the end of September, and it’s just going to keep getting warmer.
Life is good.