Despite the barrio’s tourist allure, San Telmo’s gastronomy lags behind that of other barrios. Most restaurants here are better lunchtime bargains than dinnertime indulgences.
Medio y Medio (Chile 316, tel. 011/4300-1396) bursts with lunchgoers seeking the Uruguayan caloric overload chivito, a steak sandwich piled high with lettuce, cheese, tomato, and bacon; a fried egg crowns the chivito al plato, which includes a slab of beef plus potato salad, green salad, and fries.
Dating from 1864, Bar El Federal (Carlos Calvo 399, tel. 011/4300-4313) looks its age—in a positive way, with its worn tiled floors and intricate carved wooden bar. The menu is large, but the house specialty is turkey ravioli (US$5), with a choice of sauces; there’s refreshingly cold hard cider on tap.
Despite the capacity of the multiple dining rooms at DesNivel (Defensa 855, tel. 011/4300-9081), Sunday visitors to the Plaza Dorrego market form long queues outside for parrillada and pasta at bargain prices; it’s open for lunch Tuesday–Sunday and dinner daily.
Opposite Parque Lezama, 1880 (Defensa 1665, tel. 011/4307-2746) is a traditional parrilla with plenty of barrio atmosphere, including filete ornaments by Martiniano Arce. Most entrées fall in the US$6–10 range, including pasta dishes like ñoquis (gnocchi).
Recently reopened in its classic dining room—dark mahogany woodwork and Spanish tiles—the Casal de Catalunya (Chacabuco 863, tel. 011/4361-0191, cuinacatalana [at] fibertel [dot] com [dot] ar) specializes in Catalonian seafood, other Spanish dishes, and the occasional standard Argentine item. Many dishes are made with garlic, about which Argentines are unenthusiastic.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition