La Cocina, Buenos Aires
Argentines take their empanadas (meat- and vegetable-filled pastries) seriously, and many claim that the tiny, 30-year-old La Cocina has the best around. The French bistro–style lunch counter concentrates on eight types of empanadas from northwestern Argentina, locro (corn and meat stew), and little else. The carne picante empanada (spicy meat) is the classic, but also try the picachu, a Bolivian filling of three cheeses, onion, and hot sauce that the folks at La Cocina claim has nothing to do with the Pokémon character. It’s the perfect lunch after spending a morning visiting the famous dead in Buenos Aires’s must-see Recoleta Cemetery nearby.
Insider Tip: If you’re in the city center, try the lunch-only branch of La Cocina located in the Galería Boston at Florida 142, No. 62.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.