For cheap eats in Córdoba, especially at lunchtime, try the empanadas and pizza at the municipal Mercado Norte (La Tablada and San Martín), a 1927 landmark that’s also a lively wholesale and retail grocery market. For coffee and snacks, try Café Jameo (Avenida Chacabuco 294), Mokka (Entre Ríos 85), or Il Panino (Hipólito Yrigoyen 584), which also has reliable Wi-Fi.
In the university district, Mandarina (Obispo Trejo 171, tel. 0351/426-4909) is a student hangout for fixed-price lunches. Downtown’s Verde Siempre Verde (9 de Julio 36, tel. 0351/421-8820) has over a decade’s credibility in vegetarian cuisine. Nueva Córdoba’s Salsita (Rondeau 124, tel. 0351/422-0366) serves pizza and especially choice empanadas at bargain prices.
For regional versions of empanadas and locro, there’s nothing better than La Candela (Duarte Quirós 69, tel. 0351/428-1517). It gets loud and crowded, though, and its informality has a cost: The motto is “he who knows how to eat knows how to wait.” Either that reflects its philosophy of service, the kitchen’s failure to work on several dishes simultaneously, or the staff’s inability to walk and wait tables at the same time.
La Linda (Caseros 84, tel. 0351/429-0045, www.lalindarestaurant.com, US$5–20) serves genuinely spicy salteña-style beef empanadas, with a variety of other flavors and regional dishes that include tamales (resembling their Mexican counterparts) and humitas, plus a variety of more standard Argentine dishes including beef and pasta. The service is exceptional and welcoming.
In the gentrifying Barrio General Paz, a few blocks east of the river via the Olmos bridge, San Honorato (25 de Mayo and Pringles, tel. 0351/453-5252, www.sanhonorato.com.ar, US$10–20) is a Spanish tapas restaurant named for the patron saint of bakers, as it occupies a recycled bakery. One of its highlights is the wine cellar, where patrons can sample (free of charge) the wines they might like to have with their lunch or dinner as they snack on bread, cold cuts, and vegetables.
Genuine Mexican food is hard to find in Buenos Aires, let alone the provinces, but Mexican-run Uxmal (Bulevar San Juan 700, tel. 0351/426-5649) has been an exception. Primarily producing antojitos (short orders) such as green enchiladas (US$5), it offers options far spicier than the average Argentine palate can handle, but its recent sale to local ownership is cause for at least a little skepticism.
Nueva Córdoba’s La Nieta ’e la Pancha (Belgrano 783, tel. 0351/468-1920) produces regional versions of empanadas (sweetish but slightly spicy), lamb stew, pork chops, and pastas, with most entrées around US$7–8. The service can be erratic, though, and folkloric music would be more appropriate than symphonic versions of Queen’s greatest hits.
Good for a relaxed or romantic dinner, Color Mais (Hipólito Yrigoyen 464, tel. 0351/468-4628, colormais [at] gmail [dot] com) has river fish such as surubí (Paraná catfish) with sautéed vegetables (US$10), good wines by the glass (US$2.50), good service, and a kitchen willing to correct mistakes.
Also in Nueva Córdoba, Caseratto (Buenos Aires 1001, tel. 0351/468-2060) has good ice cream, but Andrea Franceschini (Hipólito Yrigoyen 413, tel. 0351/469-1118) has taken it a step further.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition