So you know I've been eating my way through my vacation, which sadly comes to an end tomorrow. :( I thought I'd share with you what I've learned about dining out in the city.
BREAD IN A BASKET
It's like wheat prices aren't affecting Argentina because every where you go you always get a full basket of bread. And I'm not talking about a simple bowl with a few pieces of bread, I'm talking a real basket with a full array of bread, from buns to baguette toasts to bread sticks. They even bring this whole basket to solo diners, which I kind of think is a lot for one person.
Another thing that often accompanies the bread basket is some kind of tapenade or spread. The flavor varies from restaurant to restaurant, but I had some really yummy spreads, from traditional olive-based spreads to creamy garlicky ones.
In a meat-eating country like Argentina, finding a good salad is a challenge. And the common dressing for salads always seem to be oil and vinegar. When you order a salad, the server will typically bring you a cruet of oil and vinegar or bottles containing these. Then you dress your own salad. While the oil and vinegar route is a clean and simple way to eat a salad, I did miss the variety of dressing we get back in the states.
THEY LOVE THEIR VINO
Wine, of course, is a mainstay for dinner (and lunch and afternoon meals). In local, traditional restaurants, it's unheard of to order wine by the glass. In fact, they won't even offer wine by the glass. You have to order a bottle. Luckily, the restaurants will often offer half bottles, which is good for about two glasses of wine. (The more modern restaurants do offer wine by the glass now.)
The tax for everything you buy in Buenos Aires (including hotel rates) is 21 percent. Oftentimes for meals, this is already included in the price listed on the menu. But one thing that isn't always clear is what's known as "cubierto." Some restaurants will charge this on your bill and some will not. Cubierto loosely translates to "cover charge" or "table service." I've been to a couple of restaurants that charged me 6 pesos (about $2), and I'm not sure if it's because I was a solo diner taking up a table or if they charged everyone a cubierto. I know for sure there wasn't a show or musical act. Like I said, not everyone charges this. But if you see this on your bill, don't be surprised.
Saturday, October 18, 2008