La Pastronería: BA’s Pastrami Mecca
True to form, pastrami became a thing in Buenos Aires from one day to the next. No aviso previo, not a single heads up, just a hey guys, I’m here. Even a paro naciónal gives a brother some warning. Suddenly the deli meat associated mostly with east coast Jewish delis was popping up everywhere in BA – on lunch menus and high end deli counters, with an entire week appropriately named Hot Pastrami Week even taking over some of the city’s trendiest kitchens.
Pastrami is one of those foods that sits on a pedestal right alongside sushi, burgers and burritos in my nostalgic food competition. I have done my due diligence with trying all the pastrami. For science, you know. And to be totally sincere, very few places merit a return visit. Two to be exact. And when a pastrami sandwich is good, it’s dangerous. I had to change my Friday delivery route because of La Crespo’s sandwich of gluttonous proportions, and Le Blé, after having heeded the screaming in my head that happened each time my plate arrived has upped their portions and made itself a dangerously close lunch addition to my neighborhood.
Then I went to La Pastronería and added a third to the list.
As soon as I walked into La Pastronería, I knew. I opened the door to this small unassuming restaurant on the edge of Palermo Hollywood and my senses were immediately excited. The smell of pastrami was palpable, like walking into your grandma’s place on Thanksgiving with that smell of turkey floating throughout the entire house. This is all the work of Monica Behain, the owner who spent her time eating her own dinner with friends while checking in with the cooks, waitress and host. La Pastronería is the sister company of Celigourmet, which produces baked goods for celiacs for bakeries and restaurants around the city. Monica, a celiac herself, opened the restaurant to offer a completely gluten-free dining experience, and it may be the only restaurant in the city with a completely gluten-free menu.
As the name (and smells) dictated, we ordered pastrami sandwiches.
This wasn’t the kind of pastrami I was used to eating. Cut thick, this was the marriage of a tender beef brisket and that distinctive pastrami taste. The meat was flavorful and juicy, and was served on warm tapioca bread with paper thin pickles and dijon mustard. We of course ate our salads first to save the best for last and was surprised by this simple salads delicious honey and lime vinaigrette.
As if it weren’t enough food, Monica came to our table and insisted that we try dessert – the pastries were, after all, how the business got started. And although I don’t normally order dessert, I was curious about a gluten-free pie.
We started with a hazelnut alfajor and coffee.
And topped it off with a brownie pie with cream, dulce de leche, raspberries and blackberries and a chocotorta inspired cake with a brownie crust.
The texture of the brownie crusts was on point, with the perfect mix of creaminess from both dishes. La torta con frutas rojas was the clear favorite – but anytime I find berries in this wasteland I begin to slobber.
This place is dangerously good. You’ve been warned.
- La Pastroneria is located at El Salvador 6026 in Palermo Hollywood. They are open Wed-Fri from 7pm to 11:45pm, and Sat-Sun from 12:30-11:45pm.