When he was only eight years old, chef John Manion moved to Brazil with his family and spent the next five years soaking in the culture and food of the place. After he moved back to the States, he married an Argentinian woman, and they traveled all throughout Argentina for years. Needless to say, Manion is no stranger to South-American cuisine—a reason his restaurant is one of Chicago’s best in the genre.
He’s not stopping there, either. Manion’s latest concept, El Che Bar, is set to open in late summer/early fall and will offer flavors that reflect his journeys through Argentina. Here, he lays out some of his favorite spots in the Argentine capital: Not just where to eat in Buenos Aires, but also an uber-hip hotel, a sweet place to pick up artisan home goods, and a cocktail bar that makes gin-spiked yerba matte.
“It’s not really an understatement to say that Café Dada is my favorite bar or restaurant in the world. I came across it by happenstance over a decade ago and it has only become more successful and charming over the years. Paulo, the owner, is one handsome man and makes a mean negroni. All the food is wonderful, but the lomo dada and the ojo de bife (usually a special) may be the best beef you have during your stay. Be warned: it is closed Sunday and Monday.”
San Martin 941; +54 11 4314-4787
“This bar is in the heart of Palermo and is one of those hidden gems that looks like not much of anything from the street but upon entering is a beautiful courtyard done up in vibrant tiles surrounded by plants. There’s kind of a dive bar to one side and a record store to the other. It’s the kind of place you could easily lose an afternoon in.”
Honduras 4969; +54 11 4832-6195
Astrid & Gaston
“Gaston Arcurio’s Peruvian joint is one of the only places you can find spicy food in Buenos Aires. This is a prime example of what’s happening in South American cooking right now. The food is exceptional, and an overall amazing culinary experience.”
Lafinur 3222; +54 11 4802-2991
“I always go to Calma Chicha to find cool stuff to bring back for authentic souvenirs for friends and family. They have cool and modern artisan pieces, and lots of interesting home goods that you can’t find back in the States.”
Honduras 4909; +54 11 4831-1818
“Home in Palermo is a must when deciding where to stay in Buenos Aires. It’s kind of a permanent cool-kids party 24/7, 365 days a year. There’s a very cool vibe with interesting people traveling from and around the world hanging there. The décor and design throughout the entire hotel is outstanding and creates that sense of creative community.”
Honduras 5860; +54 11 4778-1008
“Paulo, the owner of Dada Café, recommended this place to me. It’s super-cool and one of the owners-bartenders makes a local yerba mate gin, which is out of this world. The place is housed under a flower-and-wine shop in the heart on Buenos Aires, and really exudes that speakeasy vibe.”
Arroyo 872; +54 11 4313-6093
First photo courtesy of Sheldon Bar. Second photo by You Need Style/Flickr