Breaking News - as of August 2010, Buenos Aires Cafe is moving their South location to grander digs up at the Hill Country Galleria. Looking forward to checking it out.
Buenos Aires is as unassuming as it gets, from the hack-job sign in Papyrus out front to the tiny little pea-green stucco building; from the patio facing the small parking lot to the tippy and weathered tables.
But behind the lackluster facade is someone in the kitchen who knows just exactly what she's doing, which is totally mind-blowing food. The ambience is the food here, and everything rotates around it. Our waiter, full of laid back Austin casual slouch when we got there, just lit up when we asked about specific dishes. After we got into a little conversation on the wine (Cava De Weinert Carrascal, which was outstanding), he was downright friendly. And the food itself, while not bad looking, had its value locked up in the taste. On looks alone, this place is middle of the pack urban strip mall ethnic fare. On taste, it's off the charts.
We started with a couple of empenadas - the spinach was good - sort of spanikopita-ish - but the chicken was just awesome. Slow, slow roasted and shredded with an intriguing combination of vegetables and spice, the soft and layered flavor in the filling and crunch on the shell came together beautifully.
Tracy went for roast chicken on the advice of the now-friendly waiter, and I had a beef tenderloin and shrimp special. Like the empenadas, the dishes weren't universally fantastic. I thought my shrimp was a bit overcooked, and the asparagus would have been improved with a hint of butter or lemon. But where this place shined, it really seriously shined. My beef, with chimichurri was amazing. Cooked on the rare side of medium-rare, it was meltingly tender and flavorful, with the chimchurri giving the perfect zingy, sharp compliment. Also lovely, the mashed potatoes that served as a pedestal for the shrimp, and Tracy's roasted yukon golds and sweet potatoes.
The empenadas and the entrees both were but prelude to the dessert. The dessert is actually why we came here, having seen a picture of the Quatro Leches cake a friend of Tracy's posted on FB a few weeks back. It did not dissapoint. We got a cylinder of the aforementioned Quatro Leches, and a slice of a completely over the top sponge cake-kahlua-strawberry-dulce de leche-whipped cream invention called Pionio. Not low fat. Not even all that pretty, but oh my, these are desserts that pick you up out of your chair, spin you around, and drop you on the floor only so you can crawl back to the table, begging for more. Amazing. And the dessert menu isn't shy about it - there are maybe 8 entrees here, and something like 15 desserts.
So, if you go, be prepared to look past appearances, and, by all means, get dessert.