Courtesy of L'epi
Matt Chesterton
October 02, 2014

“The whiter your bread, the sooner you’re dead.” Try not to recall this cheery refrain while standing in line at a typical Argentine bakery, where most of the bread on display will be whiter than the Taj Majal. The sweet counter, too, will be packed with badness: medialunas (a doughy croissant variant with added sugar), facturas (pastries, also sugary), various things stuffed, smeared and slathered with dulce de leche...

I’m a sinner, and I love all that. But I also love the a-typical bakeries, whose number and popularity is growing. Some, like the Hausbrot chain, specialize in multigrain breads and guilt-free muffins. Others, like L’Epi and Oui Oui have brought patisserie- and boulangerie-style products to the so-called Paris of South America.

Dulce de leche, memorably described by blogger Maciej Ceglowski as a “culinary cry for help,” deserves a section to itself. I’ll restrict myself to the observation that the best DdL delivery system is the alfajor, a chocolate-coated cookie sandwich that tends to have the same effect on Argentine adults as the madeleine did on Proust.

L’Epi

French bakers Bruno and Olivier are rightly proud of their wood-fired stone oven, which dates from 1911. Out of its fiery maw come slim baguettes, crusty country-style loaves, herby focaccia and more. I’m addicted to their almond croissants, whose buttery nuttiness, or nutty butteriness (I can’t decide which), is sublime. There’s a branch in Recoleta too.

Malvón

This insanely popular joint in Villa Crespo is so multi-talented we could have listed it under any number of categories, including best brunch spot, best coffee, best place to take last night’s date for breakfast, and so on. For now, let’s simply applaud the passion fruit cheesecake, fist-sized muffins, and half-decent stab at New York-style bagels.

La Panadería de Pablo

Panadería means bakery. Pablo is Pablo Massey, one of Argentina’s star chefs. This is his bakery. Except it isn’t really a bakery, though the sandwiches are very nice. Confused? Don’t be. Enjoy the space itself, an old lobby recycled by the brilliant Horacio Gallo, which blends chrome, leather, oak and marble. If it makes you feel better, buy some bread or scones on the way out.

Florencio

Chef-owner María Luisa D’Aloiso has made this cupcake-sized venue a destination patisserie for sweet-toothed porteños. Sticky chocolate cakes, caramelized apple tarts, the famous cheesecake with dulce de leche… it’s all good, fresh, and fattening. The savory options are delicious, too, though no one travels across town for a slice of quiche.

Dos Escudos Confitería

How do Argentines love dulce de leche? Let us count the ways. There’s Torta Rogel, a multilayered bomb armed with meringue and puff pastry. There’s Torta Balcarce, a vanilla sponge cut with Chantilly cream and studded with chestnuts. There are churros, croissants, horns, cannons, scones, and donuts, each oozing dulce de leche from every breach and pore. Try any (but not all!) of the above at this traditional cake shop and café.

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