Corrientes 3070 (@ Ecuador); Tel. +(011.54.11) 4867.2531 / 4861.6440
Perhaps the tastiest thing you can do with a potato - papa a la Huancaina - is a flavor you have to taste to believe at Carlitos. Photo by Clare Nisbet.
Abasto has always been a favorite barrio of porteños and is becoming increasing popular with visitors and tourists every day. Part of the appeal is that Carlos Gardel used to hang out around the corner from Carlitos, part is that it is littered with incredible Peruvian food offering a little more spice than traditional porteño fare, and part of it is certainly that here people can feel part of the beating heart of the city just far enough away from the madness of the microcentro. Carlitos embodies all of the wonderful qualities of a night out in Abasto and offers up heaping platefuls of delicious food to boot.
Outside, the window painting implies a primarily chicken-based menu but inside there is so much more to enjoy that I hardly know where to begin. Lovers of ceviche will find it hard to pass up a heaping plate of the white fish or the ceviche mixto (which includes both fish and a variety of shellfish) for about $20AR. The bistek a lo pobre or ‘poor man’s steak’ is anything but what the name suggests as the plate arrives with a heaping portion of rice, delicious thick-cut French fries (which this reviewer will argue are the best in the city), and a steak that even the most macho stomachs may have trouble handling. The chicken is divine as are the rice dishes and there are just too many quality options to mention. The most difficult experience at Carlitos is trying to figure out which choice to make from the lengthy menu but people generally don’t leave hungry. Main dishes range from about $8-$15AR and special lunch prices are available and are also extremely popular.
The large restaurant holds about 30 tables, is always packed, and the floor is always covered with reminants left by past satisfied diners – the wait staff is clearly too busy to focus on cleaning up as delivery boys rush in and out at warp speed just trying to keep up. A variety of Andean music blares from the jukebox keeping the conversation at a fever pitch well into the night. Those looking for white linen tablecloths, 3 sprigs of asparagus, and other white faces should head directly for the highly touted Palermo eateries. Those looking for a really darn good meal, at darn good prices, in a warm and neighborly environment should head directly for Carlitos. Tell your friends – just don’t tell too many. It’ll be our little secret.
—Carlitos review by Clare Nisbet