Recently I’ve had a serious case of itchy feet. I imagine I’m not alone. Knowing I can’t travel has only made me want to travel more. I yearn to be in a far flung place, exploring the sites, the markets, the cuisine.
Being married to an Argentinian I’ve been fortunate to travel to Argentina almost every year to visit his family. Buenos Aires captured my heart back in the noughties when I first visited, and it never let go. I went for a 3 month trip in 2003 and stayed for 4 years!
We may not be able to travel to Argentina for a while to come, but on the bright side there are many places in London opening up again. Places where – for a short while at least – we can feel we’re back home in Buenos Aires.
So here’s how you can find Buenos Aires in London.
La Patagonia, in Camden
When looking to eat authentic Argentina food in London David always searches for a place that feels like a local restaurant of the “barrio” (Buenos Aires neighbourhood).
And he always feels at home in La Patagonia in Camden Town. Whether it is a special occasion or a spur of the moment decision, la Patagonia is more often than not David’s first choice.
Like most Argentinians, he loves a perfect bife de chorizo (steak) but a visit to La Patagonia would not be complete without his favourite starter of chorizo (sausage) and morcilla (blood sausage).
Personally I’m not a massive meat eater but the Provoleta, provolone cheese melted in the oven, is pure heaven.
When it comes to desserts, la Patagonia is an absolute treat for us. In Argentina, it’s hard to find a dessert that comes without a generous dollop of dulce de leche. Dulce de leche is a national obsession. David usually goes for the dulce de leche pancake and I’ll choose the flan casero (creme caramel) with – of course – dulce de leche.
We leave feeling like we’ve had a massive therapeutic dose of Argentina.
Visit their website here.
Chango Empanadas, in Highgate
Not far from La Patagonia, is another little rincon (corner) of Buenos Aires in London.
Chango Empanadas have an open fronted store in Highgate, meaning that they’ve been able to serve up empanadas to stranded homesick Argentinians even during full lockdown.
Empanadas (savoury stuffed pastries) are another Argentine obsession. I struggle to think of a party in Buenos Aires without them. Argentines order empanadas to the door like pizza (and they are actually more popular than pizza).
David will always go for the traditional fillings (beef, chicken etc.) but I love to try the more unusual ones, even though you would never find them in Argentina. Pumpkin and goats cheese is a personal favourite.
And it is a rare treat in London to find alfajores de maizena (typical Argentinian biscuits), which in Argentina you can find on almost every street corner. They are filled with – yes, you guessed it – dulce de leche. David always takes a bag away with him so he can enjoy them throughout the week.
Visit their website here.
Tango, in Spitalfields
No visitor of Buenos Aires could leave without getting at least a taste of tango. They will hear tango music on the old taxi radio, see tango dancers on the streets of San Telmo, and most probably go to a flashy tango dinner show.
Tango dancers of course make their pilgrimmage to Buenos Aires to experience a real milonga (traditional tango club).
Sadly in Buenos Aies, London and around the world traditional milongas have been forced to close in the pandemic. Characterised by its beautiful close embrace, it may be a little while until tango can return in full force. But there is some glimmer of hope!
Milongas may not be open yet, but small, fixed partner classes and “practicas” are firmly on the menu. Tango has found a way to adapt!
Tango in San Telmo may be off the cards but how about tango in the equally vibrant Spitalifields?
Join one of our socially distanced classes in our atmospheric tango home down a little back street of Spitalfields. On a hot evening, with the streets teeming with open air cafes, you might even be able to imagine you’re in Buenos Aires …
“the most beautiful tango space ever” – Julia
“a sanctuary” – Natalie
And if you’re not quite ready to mix with other people yet, how about a Zoom tango night? Open a bottle of Malbec, order a box of Chango empanadas and get ready to turn your living room into a cool tango bar with our Zoom tango classes.
Click here for our tango classes.
Buenos Aires (or a little taste of it) here we come!