By the time Alberto dropped me off at the gargantuan buffet at Maizales on my last food quest, I was hungry – but not ready for the adventure with the charming taxista to end.
Luckily, Alberto gave me the skinny about another restaurant where he often spends his lunch hour: Palermo Viejo Resto-Bar. Last Friday, I stopped by to sample the goods.
Although Alberto the taxista – who’s been driving a cab in Buenos Aires for 52 of his 78 years – was nowhere to be found at his supposed haunt, there were plenty of other cab drivers in the crowded dining room.
Ignoring the lavender paint peeling off the walls and the filth on the windows, everyone was chowing down on steak sandwiches, hamburgers, and overflowing platters of blood sausage, kidneys, and intestines.
I slipped into the workaday scene and ordered the special: escalope (breaded beef cutlets that reminded me of chicken fried steak) and mashed potatoes. My 16 peso (about $5 US) meal was basic but tasty, and I appreciated the fresh garlic the chef managed to slip into the meat batter (a bold move in a city where people are often averse to the stinking rose).
As I avoided the what-are-you-doing-here? stares of the restaurant’s regulars, I imagined Alberto popping into this hole in the wall for a quick, cheap, satisfying lunch with his fellow road warriors.
Although not necessarily one for the guidebooks, Palermo Viejo Resto-Bar is a place where you can put your finger on the slow pulse of a street corner that refuses to surrender to the pace of trends that race by. In a neighborhood where chic and sleek rule, this is a working man’s refuge – and a humble monument to the Metropolis of Meat’s culinary past.
Honduras 3999 (esquina Medrano)
Open: 7am-midnight; closed Sundays and Tuesdays after 6pm