Nothing Typical at Café San Juan

Posted on July 13, 2011 by Vivi in DINNER, RESTAURANTS

Variety seeking gourmet diners will suffer greatly in Buenos Aires. However the situation became much less dire for this foodie upon the enlightening discovery of Café San Juan.

Deep in the heart of San Telmo, on a lonely Avenue that I wouldn’t care to walk alone at night is Café San Juan.  Inconspicuous from the outside, the internal atmosphere is warm, with crowded seating and sparkling candle light over maroon table runners.  The setting is understated and simple, an unassuming background intended not to distract from the real highlight of experience – the food.  Their dining room was the perfect place to meet friends for a shared meal.

Café San Juan posts their daily menu on chalk boards, presented by handsome waiters.

They even translated the menu to English, and I was overwhelmed with nostalgia of another time when restaurant dining meant thoughtful menus inspired by local ingredients.

The kitchen is open, the line chefs segregated by a bar, just like home where I could sit on swirly bar stools and keep my mother company while she prepared dinner.  The sounds and smells of sizzling meat and clacking pans completed the gourmet yet homey ambiance.

We started with shared appetizers for the table.  First, a rabbit pie, which I was reluctant to try but upon first taste converted me to a bona-fide advocate for the consumption of bunnies.  It went very well with a sip of Trumpeter Malbec Syrah.

We also split a goat cheese and roasted Portobello bruschetta which was rather disappointing.  Goat cheese in Argentina is firmer and less flavorful than what I was accustomed to in the US, and the toasted bread rounds were dry making this difficult to eat.

The main courses were the highlights.  We tried the squid ink pasta with basil, (a dish I never fathomed to see in Argentina, and was impossible to photograph) as well as an artfully plated seared salmon.

The undeniable best order of the table was the braised pork with mashed sweet potatoes.  I appreciated the chef’s obvious affinity for basil.

The dessert menu didn’t persuade us, although no one would have had to twist my arm to try their creme brûlée…. At 11:30 the waiter told us that another reservation was waiting for our table.  This was a shock, most restaurants in Buenos Aires would never rush their clientele, however nothing about this meal was particularly typical of Buenos Aires, least of all the menu.  This may be one of the best restaurants in the city.

This lovely meal was shared with spectacular company, which has the ability to take a great meal and make it an unforgettable one.  Thank you Pat and James.

Café San Juan

Avenida San Juan 450

4300 1112


  1. Hi Vina,
    I love the Maroon table runners. I hope they were on a white table cloth.

  2. All of the sudden, this place keeps popping up in everything I read! Apparently it’s a BA classic that I never heard about til now….and the first place I’ll go when I’m back!

  3. Me gustaría recibir mas info


  1. Daily Url - July 16 - Baexpats - Community of Expatriates in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *