Karina Martinez-Carter

Correspondent

  • Buenos Aires, Argentina

Karina Martinez-Carter is a correspondent who lives in Buenos Aires and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Bloomberg Businessweek, Time Out Buenos Aires and on TheAtlantic.com, among others. She moved to Argentina’s capital in 2010 after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in both journalism and Spanish. You can follow her adventures all over social media, including Twitter and Instagram (@KMartinezCarter).

  • On July 2, 2014
  • On November 19, 2013
  • On August 5, 2013
  • On July 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best local dishes in Buenos Aires?

    Argentina’s most popular dish undoubtedly is the asado, or barbecue. Many tourists come seeking the perfect steak, which in Argentina is cooked slowly over burning coals and flavored with little more than salt, and perhaps once on the plate some chimichurri. A barbecue meal often starts with chorizo, or sausage, and provoleta, which is a thick slice of melted cheese often topped with oregano and olive oil. Both also are prepared on the grill and cook more quickly than thick slabs of steak, so they are consumed first. Chorizo often is served as choripan, which sandwiches the sausage in a roll of white bread. Choripan also is the street food of Buenos Aires and can be purchased from carts along the coasts, such as by the Ecological Reserve in Puerto Madero and the Costanera Norte.

    Empanadas are another favorite local dish. Empanadas can be baked or fried and eaten as an appetizer or a main meal. They come stuffed with meat, cheese, vegetables or some combination thereof, with their fillings denoted with how the crust is folded. Pizza parlors commonly prepare both pizza and empanadas, since similar ingredients are used to make both. Pizza also is a local specialty, and in Argentina slices are thicker and breadier than elsewhere. Fugazzeta pizza, which is stuffed with onions and cheese, is a dish unique to Argentina but demonstrates the Italian influence on the local cuisine, which also includes many pasta dishes. (For example, it is tradition to eat ñoquis, or gnocchis, on the 29 of every month.)

    It also should be noted locro, a meaty stew with corn, beans and potato, is a national dish and traditionally consumed on May 25, the anniversary of the revolution.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best places for breakfast in Buenos Aires?

    Household breakfast fare in Buenos Aires (and Argentina as a whole) is generally light and simple, consisting of some coffee and toasted bread topped with jam, a cheese cream or sweet dulce de leche spread. Bakeries throughout the city open their doors early to satisfy early birds looking for baked goods, and Domani and Los Molinos bakeries pull some of the best medialunas (sweet, small croissants) out of their ovens. Most bakeries are set up for stopping in and taking food to go, though.

    While sweet-looking, sit-down cafes throughout the city offer full breakfast (or brunch) menus, the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood is home to some of the cutest and tastiest breakfast spots. There is Oui Oui, which always has a wait on weekends, as well as Pani and Bartola. All serve traditional breakfast dishes like platters with eggs, as well as sandwiches and salads. Porota is a tiny café with some of the best homemade dishes and baked goods to be found in the city. In the Villa Crespo neighborhood, Café Crespin and Malvón Café in Villa Crespo always are bustling around breakfast time, as well.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best coffee shops in Buenos Aires?

    Buenos Aires coffee shops are a mix of the old and new, and both are done spectacularly well.

    Of the classic cafes, Café Tortoni is one of the oldest and most famous. Tiffany lamps adorn the top of the bar, which is made of the same dark oak that runs throughout the café and gives the place a feel of old-world splendor. The fare is simple but satisfying and the coffee strong, and attentive bow-tied waiters tend to tables, which are always full.

    For the more of-the-moment coffee shops where people hang to sip good coffee and work uninterrupted, the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood is café central. Decata merits making it out to the edge of the neighborhood for the homemade pastries and sweets, while In Bocca al Lupo Caffé is a cheery, bright restaurant has some of the best Italian-style coffee in the city, and Full City Coffee House, while more off the well-trodden tourist path, brews some of the only Colombian coffee in Buenos Aires. Le Blé has a few locations in the city, though concentrated in Palermo Hollywood, and serve some of the biggest (and best) mugs of coffee in the city, as well as tasty, fresh baked goods.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best places to see a play in Buenos Aires?

    The best place to see a performance in the city is Teatro Colón, one of the grandest venues in the world both for its opulent décor and acoustics. The opera house is so stunning it is worth even just a daytime tour or visit, and its programming includes some of the worlds’ top productions, including touring musical performances, operas and ballets. 

    Buenos Aires also is a South American and—even greater—Latin American hub for theater. Musicals, dramas, variety shows and everything in between go up on Corrientes avenue, which is dubbed the “Broadway” of South America. While Teatro Colón stages more classic productions, Corrientes is where to go to see the best contemporary theater.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are quirky local customs in Buenos Aires?

    The first thing to know about Buenos Aires’ customs is how to greet people. Across Argentina, all people greet each other with a kiss (just one) on the cheek, including men. People are receptive to handshakes, but they are considered a bit stilted and people meet and greet each other with a cheek-to-cheek kiss, even in business settings.

    Another local custom that seems at first a bit confusing to outsiders is mate. Mate is a loose-leaf, caffeinated tea that people pack into a gourd, sip with a metal straw (bombilla) and commonly share, passing it around in a circle. A whole formula of traditions come with drinking mate, but the basic know-how for participating in a mate circle is to sip the entirety of the tea in the gourd, then pass it back to the preparer to serve for the next person.
  • On July 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best restaurants for a business lunch in Buenos Aires?

    Buenos Aires is a city of people that like to take their time at meals, enjoying the food, drinks, company and conversation. Business lunches can be lengthy affairs, so it is best to choose a comfortable venue. Since most companies and offices in the city are concentrated in the downtown “Centro” and Puerto Madero waterfront neighborhood, most choose to lunch nearby. Puerto Madero has far more attractive options, plus the added bonus of a riverside view. Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero is a spacious parrilla, or steakhouse, popular for business lunches. Also off the main drag 9 de Julio is Juana M, a more modern take on the classic Argentine steakhouse with art decorating the walls and a fresh salad bar. A bit farther from the downtown concentration is Kansas, a sleek and spacious gourmet restaurant popular with locals. For an upscale business lunch befitting of foodies, there is Hernán Gipponi in the Fierro Hotel in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What is Buenos Aires’s dining scene like?

    The Buenos Aires dining scene is just now beginning to emerge as a top international culinary destination with the diversity, quality and inventiveness to rival the world’s top cities for gastronomy. Generally speaking, though, the city’s restaurants can still be classified under a few categories.

    There are the classic steakhouses—and it is really hard to go wrong here—which Buenos Aires has down to a science, serving juicy slabs of meat in a rustic, convivial atmosphere. Italian with an Argentine twist also is done well here, with fresh, homemade pastas and thick, bready slices of pizza. There also are closed-door restaurants, which is where foodies flock and chefs are cooking up and serving some of the best, most inventive cuisine in Buenos Aires. For those looking for brunch or daytime dining, the city is dotted with supremely cute cafes, many with tasty light fare on the menu, particularly in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood.

    Keep in mind people go out to eat late, usually starting around 9:30 pm, and meals are relaxed, unhurried affairs that last for hours. No one will rush you no matter how many people are waiting, either, so feel free to nurse that bottle of wine or order another. You only receive your check when you expressly ask.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the most unusual dining experiences in Buenos Aires?

    The most unusual dining experiences—or those meals that are unexpected, interesting and surprising in the best possible way—take place behind closed doors. Closed-door restaurants, or puertas cerradas as they are called, are a popular way to for top chefs in the city to operate intimate restaurants. Closed-door restaurants generally operate out of a chef’s private home a few nights per week, with just one seating. Reservations are a must, and the multi-course menu is usually fixed and accompanied with wine pairings. In short, closed-door restaurants tend to be the places offering the finest dining experiences and most inventive and tasty meals in the city. Some like Adentro Dinner Club offer communal dining; others like Cocina Sunae fill a void offering the tastiest ethnic food in the city. Other top closed-door restaurants include Paladar Buenos Aires, I Latina, NOLA and Casa Felix. All are hours-long dining affairs to remember.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best steakhouses in Buenos Aires?

    The steakhouse, or parrilla, is the bread and butter of Buenos Aires’ dining scene. Argentines love all their cuts of red meat and spending hours at a parrilla, as the steakhouses are called here, with family and friends, as well as making sure tourists have the best steakhouse experiences. Here are some of the most highly recommended for visitors to the city. 

    Reservations fill quickly and tourists queue at La Cabrera, and while the predominant chatter in the restaurant might be in English, the steakhouse is well deserving of its popularity. Expect a fine dining, tasty steakhouse experience with attentive service.

    Don Julio is a little simpler in style than La Cabrera, but the ambiance is still upscale yet comfortable. As for the steak? It is some of the best you will find in city, and therefore, probably anywhere.

    Miranda in Palermo Hollywood is a more contemporary take on the traditional steakhouse, and the people watching here is as prime as the food off the grill.

    Over in San Telmo, La Brigada has its contingent for fervent red meat-loving fans, who frequently feast atop its white tablecloths and claim it as the best steakhouse in the city.

    Another parilla that knows how to wine and dine tourists is Cabaña Las Lilas in the riverside Puerto Madero neighborhood. A reservation is necessary to snag a table at dinnertime, and though many say it is pricey, they also say it is well worth it for food and ambiance.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What is Buenos Aires’s dining scene like?

    The Buenos Aires dining scene is just now beginning to emerge as a top international culinary destination with the diversity, quality and inventiveness to rival the world’s top cities for gastronomy. Generally speaking, though, the city’s restaurants can still be classified under a few categories.

    There are the classic steakhouses—and it is really hard to go wrong here—which Buenos Aires has down to a science, serving juicy slabs of meat in a rustic, convivial atmosphere. Italian with an Argentine twist also is done well here, with fresh, homemade pastas and thick, bready slices of pizza. There also are closed-door restaurants, which is where foodies flock and chefs are cooking up and serving some of the best, most inventive cuisine in Buenos Aires. For those looking for brunch or daytime dining, the city is dotted with supremely cute cafes, many with tasty light fare on the menu, particularly in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood.

    Keep in mind people go out to eat late, usually starting around 9:30 pm, and meals are relaxed, unhurried affairs that last for hours. No one will rush you no matter how many people are waiting, either, so feel free to nurse that bottle of wine or order another. You only receive your check when you expressly ask.
  • On June 26, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best things to do with kids in Buenos Aires?

    One of Buenos Aires’ best assets is its park system, which teems with people playing sports, strumming instruments, relaxing and exercising, particularly on weekends. The Parque de los Bosques and the Rosedal (a stunning natural palette of colors when the roses are in bloom) are favorites, and people can rent bikes, rollerblades and paddleboats. The Ecological Reserve in Puerto Madero is another favorite place to spend the day outdoors.

    The Buenos Aires Zoo near Plaza Italia is a big hit with families, whether locals or tourists. And this being South America where the rules are generally more relaxed, kids will get a thrill out of how seemingly close they can get to the animals. For indoors activities, there is a hands-on, interactive Children’s Museum in the Abasto neighborhood, as well as the Museum of Natural Sciences with the requisite dinosaurs on display to please the niños.

    For sports-loving children, the city is alive with activity. It is easy to catch a soccer matches in the parks throughout the city—though attending a Boca or River match, for example might not be advisable for safety concerns—and there also is the Boca Juniors stadium, which visitors can tour. During the spring and summer months polo is regularly on, and rugby matches happen every weekend all over the city during all seasons except summer.
  • On June 24, 2013
    Karina Martinez-Carter answered the question: Karina Martinez-Carter

    What are the best souvenirs to buy in Buenos Aires?

    Leather goods make popular mementos from Argentina, whether a pair of custom-made boots, a designer handbag or a cowhide wallet. Such products are available throughout the city, from the San Telmo fair on every Sunday to boutiques in the trendy Palermo Soho neighborhood.

    A mate gourd and straw is another option for a uniquely local souvenir. Mate is the caffeinated, loose-leaf tea Argentines drink all day every day, often in communal groups, such as at the park. The gear for consuming the tea is a gourd, often made from a carved-out pumpkin, and a silver straw. They are widely available, including at the San Telmo fair or Plaza Francia weekend market in Recoleta, and come decorated with leather as well as embossed or carved with images of Buenos Aires and Argentina.

    Many people often seek out that perfect bottle of wine or fernet to bring back and share with friends. Keep in mind Argentina enthusiastically exports much of its wine, so the best bottles are likely available near home, too. Fernet also is available outside Argentina, though it is sold for significantly cheaper in Argentina. 

    One tasty souvenir not as readily available outside the country is Argentine dulce de leche, which is like a creamier version of caramel. If Argentina had a national flavor, this would be it, because dulce de leche is incorporated into just about every popular dessert in the country. Dulce de leche is sold in buckets of varying sizes in any supermarket in Buenos Aires, as well as at more gourmet food stores.