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Where: Patagonia Sur, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Why Go: With only five tables, this lavish, lovingly restored town house redefines intimacy in a city known for packed steakhouses and teeming tango halls.
A Side of Atmosphere: Subdued lighting, leather walls, velvet curtains, and stately displays of lilies make the restaurant feel like the tasteful hideout of a polished porteño—and in fact, proprietor Francis Mallmann, Argentina's most esteemed chef-restaurateur, lives upstairs. But you'll appreciate the place even more for what it doesn't have: throngs of people. The dining room seats just 14, and many tourists are turned off by the grit and graffiti of La Boca, the charming-but-unpolished portside neighborhood where the restaurant is located.
Appetite for Seduction: Like the 300-year-old tapestry that hangs on one of the walls, Mallmann's menu is a carefully woven patchwork. He skillfully incorporates ingredients from the Andes (potatoes are transformed into delicate gnocchi) to the Pampas (richly marbled rib eye gets paired with the classic chimichurri sauce) all the way down to the South Atlantic (fish like chernia, a meaty white variety, might be served with burnt cherries and avocados).
The Hot Seat: Nothing's numbered, but if you request the "best table," you'll be seated at the window in the middle of the room.
Rocha 803, Pedro de Mendoza
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tel: 54 11 4303 5917