Art Factory Hostel Blog

Recommended Restaurant: Las Pencas in San Telmo

I’ve eaten three times at this small, quaint (I hate using that word, but with the lovely naïf folk-art on the walls, it applies.) restaurant on the corner of Estados Unidos and Bolivar in San Telmo. Every time has felt like a good deal, satisfying in terms of portion-size and flavor, as well as being attractively presented. That’s an academic way of saying I enjoyed my meals here quite a bit. My companions have enjoyed theirs as well, bringing the total meals enjoyed to 7. All great.

The first meal I had was probably the best. I  tweeted about it a bit: Huge chicken breast stuffed with  quinoa, spinach and cheese, accompanied by fried , cubed, sweet potatoes, and glazed carrots. Although the chicken breast was a bit dry, it was more flavorful, a bit gamey even, than what I’ve been used to in the U.S. or the Czech Republic. The vegetables were tasty and artfully presented, like every meal I’ve had there.

Las Pencas also offers artesnal beers, or what an American might recognize as microbrews. All are worth trying, and reasonably priced for Buenos Aires. Avoid the cheaper Quilmes; you can get that anywhere.

I would also avoid the crème brûlée, which, although properly crystallized on top, ended up being rather tasteless. You might want to reconsider all the desserts. They’re pricey, at 20 pesos +, which is two-thirds of the price of most meals themselves. (In America, the premium is worth it. So far, in BA, not so much.) The espresso, on the other hand, was thick, rich, and pleasantly redolent of sweet, ever-so slightly bitter caramel. I like my espresso that way! It’s included with most brunch and lunch menus.

Last Saturday, my friend had a Middle-Eastern influenced, cool, lamb and quinoa salad. Not authentic  -no mint and not a bit-spicy- but subtly complex and refreshing. Also, we have been charmed by the wait staff on every visit. They didn’t speak particularly good English, but they were helpful, self-deprecating, and, broadly, quite lovely.

(Across the street from Las Pencas is the equally adventurous Territorio, which also serves a unique menu, as well as Staropramen, a typically crisp lager from the Czech Republic, in bottles. Avoid the 12° Koala amber. It starts out wonderfully with a full, hoppy mouth-full but finishes with a far-too alcoholic, harsh bitterness. I couldn’t finish my pint, probably some sort of record for this serious beer drinker. It’s too bad Territorio doesn’t carry Pilsner Urquell, also from Czech: A supreme 12° pils. The original, as it were.)

Mains at Las Pencas range from $24 to $44. No cheap pasta but inexpensive, tasty empanadas plus small, but filling bowls of stew, in 5 different varieties. Put the two together and you’ve got a great, sub-10 bucks, and very Argentinian, meal.

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