Front of Don Julio
The Global Energy Stories Team is back with another blog post, and this one is for all my foodies. I believe that when you are traveling it is important to not just see the best tourist attractions, but to also try out the local restaurants. During our time in South America, we visited many different countries and tried many different cuisines. After a long discussion and many arguments, here is our Top Five Restaurants for Budget Travelers who want to Splurge.
1. Don Julio (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
If you visit Buenos Aires, you must go to Don Julio. It is #1 on my list for many reasons, but is also the #19 restaurant in the world. Argentinian cuisine is known for its dominant use of meat in most meals but also its fresh vegetables and fruits. Don Julio specializes in raising their grass-fed Aberdeen Angus in the best conditions possible, to have the best meat. But it is not just the food that tastes great, the staff and ambiance of the restaurant is also out of this world. They treat the clients who are waiting for a table as they would for someone already dining. They hand out empanadas and sparkling wine to everyone, which keeps their customers happy. We went there with four people, got a bottle of wine, two appetizers, four steaks and waters totaling about $60 USD per person. So even if there is a bit of a wait, it’s worth it.
While we were traveling on a budget and typically ate at cheaper restaurants, we saw this was an opportunity that we couldn’t miss. With Don Julio being as popular as it is, we suggest that you arrive there at 11am when it opens to get your name on the list. We also recommend that you avoid going on the weekend because it can be impossible to get a table. If you can get your name down you will be able to get in for a late lunch or early dinner.
Tomahawk at Don Julio
2. Kusykay (Cusco, Peru)
Kusykay, a Peruvian Restaurant in the town center, is one of the top rated restaurants in all of Cusco. We had the privilege of going there right before the start of our hike to Machu Picchu and knew it was time to load up on some protein. Otto and I both got Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian specialty, and it was out of this world. Not only did it taste amazing, the presentation was also wonderful. Something that makes a restaurant top tier is not only the food but also the service as well.
This place is a bit pricey. It has amazing food and you’re getting what you pay for, but it comes to around $20-$30 USD depending on what you get. When you’re traveling for a long period of time, it is always important to treat yourself!
3. El Preferido de Palermo (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Two blocks down the street from Don Julio, El Preferido is another amazing Argentinian Cuisine Restaurant in Palermo, Buenos Aires. This place also has amazing steaks but the dish that really stood out to me was their Milanese. It was absolutely incredible. Before being seated, they hand out Empanadas and Gin and Tonics, which made the wait a lot more enjoyable. We ended up being seated outside which was a really cool experience. It is a very popular area and if you are into people watching, this is the place to be. You get to see Buenos Aires from a different perspective and appreciate the city more. 100% was the best ambiance of all the restaurants we visited. Since I was speaking about the Milanese, that cost around $13 USD. There are plenty of pricier items on the menu, but you wouldn’t be spending more than $30 USD per person.
4. Tandoor Indian Restaurant & Bar (Bogota, Colombia)
Yes, I know what you are thinking, why is there an Indian Restaurant in Bogota as one of your top 5. Don’t you want to try some Colombian Cuisine? Let me tell you, their Butter Chicken was OUT of this world. The Chicken was juicy and tender, the sauce was creamy, and the Garlic Naan was the perfect amount of crispy. Everything you would want in this dish. For people who want a little bit more spice, get the Lamb Tikka Masala. We got a medium but for people who can handle their spice, I would even ask for a 4 on a 5 point scale. The meals ranged from about $15-$25 USD per person. For anyone that is visiting Bogota and is craving Indian cuisine, this is the place to go.
5. Cordillera Vinos y Fuego (Mendoza, Argentina)
Another Argentinian Restaurant? Yes. Cordillera has a wide selection of Italian and Argentinian Cuisine and takes pride in being one of the best steakhouses in Mendoza. It is known for not only having great tasting meat, but also having a great presentation as well. I ordered a medium rare ribeye that went toe to toe with the tomahawk I got from Don Julio. If you are into steak as much as I am, I highly recommend this strip of meat.
When you manage to pick your meal for the night, ask the waiter about what wine goes best with this dish. Their wine cellar has every wine you could imagine to top off the meal and your night. This is one of the pricier places on our list, ranging from $25-$50 USD, but worth every penny.
Pro tip for first timers in Argentina: As a foreigner, I wasn’t attuned to how the Argentinian meal schedule worked. Their lunch starts around 2pm and people don’t head to dinner until 9pm. So if you’re like myself and go out to dinner at 6pm, don’t be surprised if the restaurant is empty.