San Telmo Favorite
Manolo is a popular local staple in Buenos Aires. It is also one of the cheapest (though not quite as cheap as your outdated paper guide books say – inflation is on the rise in Buenos Aires), and a place where you are assured of getting a true ‘Buenos Aires’ experience.
Located just blocks away from Parque Lezama in San Telmo, the place where some people believe Buenos Aires was first founded by Pedro de Mendoza, Manolo (the name of the original owner, as well as the restaurant) has served up massive portions of meat (bife de chorizo/rump steak, lomo/tenderloin steak, asado/ribs…etc), pasta and fish dishes for so long that many locals assume he was part of that initial founding party back in 1536. Although Manolo himself has sadly since passed away, the tradition is carried on by his family, who now tend to the restaurant and ensure that the age-old custom of serving a good, hearty meal lives on.
Interesting Takes on Argentine Classics
If you are going for meat, try one of the ‘regional’ takes on the usual parrilla suspects, that will at least provide some variety from the other parrillas you visit when in Buenos Aires – these include a Guadalajara-style Lomo, a Canadian Bife de Chorizo and Cerdo (Pork) a la Nebraska, all of which taste as interesting as they sound, and prove that even an old dog like Manolo can show off a few innovative tricks.
Plates Full of Pasta
If you’ve had enough beef, the pasta dishes do not disappoint. Be prepared for MOUNTAINOUS portions, which could easily fill two people each. They offer Noquis (Gnocchis) a la Piemontesa (a chicken, olive, tomato & basil sauce) as well as Spaghetti a la Muzzarella (a ham, mushroom, muzzarella, scallion & cream sauce), just to name a few. Although all variations are tasty, the portions abound, so make sure you really starve yourself before visiting Manolo.
Football Theme & Atmosphere
As for the restaurant itself, it isn’t all that in terms of decor – very plain and simple. BUT, this is compensated for by the reams for football (soccer) shirts, flags and memorabilia plastered over every inch of wallspace. And, the atmosphere is not far removed from a loud, passionate football crowd either – almost always full of Argentine regulars (and a fair few tourists), lunch and dinner, the patrons certainly work up a fair old noise, helped along by the cheap house red wine.
One final thing to note – due to the popularity of the restaurant there may be a long wait for a table on weekend nights, but that is all part of the experience, as they say. And if a slightly raucous atmosphere does not sound like a nice dining environment to you, visit at lunchtime when things are more laid back.
Manolo Restaurant Location
Bolivar 1299, corner Cochabamba, San Telmo
Tel: 4307-8743, Website: http://www.restaurantmanolo.com.ar