Best Family Restaurants in Buenos Aires
Each of Shakespeare's seven ages is welcome in BA's traditional restaurants, from mewling infants to venerable pensioners notching up another birthday. Trendsetting, candlelit joints in Palermo Viejo and Recoleta are less kid friendly than the average neighborhood diner. Just use your common sense.
Why do Argentine families eat out so often? One reason is that the price of a big pizza at the corner place compares favorably with the time/cost/labor value of shopping and cooking. But I prefer a more romantic explanation: that Argentines simply agree with Bruce Springsteen when he sings, "nothin' feels better than blood on blood." My wife and I have been taking our daughter to the same places since she was six weeks old, watching her graduate from teta (translate it yourself) to mashed blood sausage to breaded steak with French fries. Such memories are wonderfully hard to shake.
This is a sentimental (and smart) choice. In town for my wedding in 2003 and staying at the Hotel Castelar across the avenue, my parents ate in this downhome Spanish restaurant every night, working their way through the colossal menu with the help of one of the city’s friendliest and most efficient wait staff. Try the lamb or the skewers of tenderloin.
This popular Barrio Norte joint serves empanadas and other traditional dishes in a chaotic, verging on claustrophobic, space. (To be fair, the pack-’em-in philosophy helps keep prices down.) Kids love scrawling on the paper tablecloths using the provided crayons. Adults love the locro—a thick, warming stew of pork, beans, and corn, Argentina’s answer to soul food.
Picture a restaurant that is chic and intimate. Now picture the exact opposite, and you have El Trapiche in mind. Not that the big groups of friends, families and work colleagues who throng this cavernous, brightly lit canteen could care less. They’re here for the friendly vibe and the shareable portions of dishes like matambrito de cerdo al verdeo (pork flank with spring onions).
More an ice-cream parlor than a restaurant, but if you can’t bend the rules for ice-cream, what can you bend the rules for? Founded in 1938, Scannapieco serves (or scoops) more than 50 varieties of homemade gelato, from melon to chocolate with almonds, from mascarpone to dulce de leche with brownie. Puzzled as to the difference between sambayón and super sambayón? Ask to try before you buy.
No one would argue that this noisy but attractive steakhouse is among the best of its kind, though the steaks are toothsome enough and the prices reasonable. There’s even a (pretty average) salad bar. No, the big draw here is the supervised kids play area, much appreciated by sprogs and parents alike.