La comida porteña: a comprehensive guide

Originally published July 6, 2014 on mi amiga’s study abroad blog while we were in Argentina.

As I sit here in my host kitchen eating a slice of birthday torta, it occurred to me that what Hayley’s blog lacked is a critical view on various foods in the area.

1. Sandwich quest

The Hamburger: One of my first meals in Buenos Aires at a typical Argentine cafe set the precedent for my restaurant experiences for the rest of my stay here. I ordered a cafe con leche and a hamburger: first imagine my delight when my coffee came with “the works” (a vasito of seltzer, a tiny cookie) and then my bewilderment when my meal was a giant plate of fries, two patties, and a fried egg. If you didn’t catch it, the missing thing is a bun.

The Chivito: Then, I fell in love in Colonia. It’s a day-trip kind of place; there’s nothing to do there besides take a tour around the historic quarter of the city. But before embarking on said tour, we went for a quick bite at a tiny food stand, and ordered Uruguay’s national dish, the Chivito. Chivito means baby goat, but it’s made with beef, a fried egg, cheese, bacon, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, pickled peppers, peas, lettuce, tomato, and sometimes the beloved (but in my opinion, repulsive) olive. The sandwich haunted my saliva-frothed dreams for weeks after that trip, until I finally ordered one here in Buenos Aires. I was disappointed. Uruguayos do it better.

The Choripan: Having had success in the past with sandwiches filled kilometer-high with condiments, this butterflied-sausage on a roll seemed like a good idea to a hungry Saif and I. We only had to wait a few minutes for the $2 (USD) chorizo to cook on the grill and then had free reign with a huge table of condiments. I tried to put on every one, but Alicia (mom) and Kevin (dad) really were rushing us. It was pretty good, but there were grisly bits in my sausage and the bread couldn’t really hold the meat. I would go back again so I could actually put on every condiment.

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Yelping Yelp

Alex B.
Saint Louis, MO
67 friends
104 reviews
Elite ‘15
★★★★★ 10/3/2015

I have a record of every poop I’ve taken for the past two years. My spreadsheet includes data such as date, time of day, approximate size of the poop and number on the Bristol stool scale. I also track my menstrual cycle, and for some time tracked my sleeping, eating and water drinking. I love logging my personal habits, writing, and food, so it was inevitable that I started Yelping.

I had forgotten my original impetus for starting. Looking all the way back on page 11 of my profile, I found my first Yelp review from October 13, 2013. Apparently, my $20 charcuterie board at Café Napoli, mostly peanuts and a slice of salami cut into four pieces, “was disappointing enough to cause me to create a Yelp account and write this review.”

For the uninitiated, Yelp is an online “urban guide” founded by former PayPal employees in 2004. Their mission is “to connect people with great local businesses.” It’s crowdsourced, so anyone can review and rate businesses. A real profile picture and real name, listed on the site in the format First Name, Last Initial, are a part of the transparency that gives credibility to a user’s reviews, in addition to a history of authentic reviews on his or her public profile. With 90 million reviews and counting, the most-reviewed sector is the shopping category, which makes up 23% of reviews, and a large focus on the site is food, with the restaurants category as a runner-up at 19%, but categories of reviews range from automotive to education to beauty services.

People even entrust their health to Yelp. Three discrete surveys conducted by Software Advice claim Yelp is more popular than Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals and ZocDoc to find a doctor. It’s the number one resource for finding an attorney. Yelp has 142 million unique visitors each month on average, and businesses that use a Yelp Business Page experience an $8,000 average annual increase in revenue. It’s a prominent company, and the mark of Yelp means something to business owners—“People love us on Yelp!” commendation stickers adorn the windows of establishments that qualify based on their history and rating on Yelp.

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