La Cantina Francesa is a buffet-style eatery in Microcentro which manages to serve up fast and easy lunches without compromising on quality. Many restaurants, bars and cafes downtown struggle to find the right balance between serving up decent food, and getting it out quickly for busy office types and travelers on the go.
Argentina’s dining culture admirably leans towards slow eating, rather than the fast food overtaking the planet – but it doesn’t favor the typical hectic lifestyle predominate today.
Enter La Cantina Francesa, which proves to be a great alternative to empanada takeout joints and fast food options downtown. It’s something akin to a high school lunch canteen, only with gourmet French and Italian themed food.
After picking up a plastic tray and moving through the line you are presented with a fragrant, steaming array of pastas, risottos, stir fries, meat and fish dishes. Instead of hamburger patties and macaroni and cheese, there’s boeuf bourguignon and spinach gnocchi with cherry tomatoes and a creamy sauce. Plates vary from day to day, but there is always a selection of pastas and salads as well as meat, chicken and fish options.
Owner Phillipe Partouche, who looks so typically French that he would just have to slap on a beret and carry around a baguette to complete the effect, says, “The main difference between us and typical Argentine restaurants is that here you can be in and out in 15 minutes.
He’s right, the food is very good, and servings are abundant. It may not be all-you-can-eat, but it is still economical. Dishes are around the AR$15-$20 mark, and with dessert and a drink you will still get change from AR$30. Some plates, like the lasagna, require heating up in the microwave, which means it’s up to the customer to make sure it’s properly warmed, which may prove problematic for some. As it’s a buffet, your best bet is to arrive early, beat the crowd and get first pickings of the food. Like most places downtown, La Cantina Francesa is pretty deserted at 12pm, but packed by 1:30.
They also offer delivery, with sandwiches, pastas, salads and vegetarian meals on the menu.
–by Dan Colasimone
La Cantina Francesa —$
Tucuman 831 (three blocks from Florida)
Tel: 4393 3790
• Hours: Monday to Friday 11:30am-4pm
• cash only