“Cambio, Cambio” shout the random guys standing in the middle of the street each spaced around 50 yards apart. This is a familiar sight right next to the best shopping centre in Buenos Aires, Galerias Pacifico.
You may wonder what they are on about. In fact, they are asking if you need any change – no one in Buenos Aires ever seems to have any. It’s your choice whether or not you choose to approach these guys but my honest advice would be don’t.
Take your Peso’s instead to Galerias Pacifico. A clean, modern building in stark contrast to the rustic graffiti-clad structures dotted around the city. This is a grand shopping centre with all the usual names present in its list of stores.
The centre in a way reminded me of The Trafford Centre in Manchester. Gold railings, a glass roof and a dome over the food court decorated like The Sistine Chapel – it was very much the food court that got our attention.
Sure there are the normal fast food stalls in this round room of dining options but there is something very special right at the back. Las Brasitas serves up Argentina’s most famous experience – Parrilla. Yes, they have only gone and put a barbecue grill in the middle of a shopping centre.
The menu prices average $390-500 ARS (£8-10) which is outstanding value in anyone’s currency for meat grilled before your very eyes. The system works exactly the same as any fast food restaurant. You choose your meat, a side and a drink for a set price. We chose the Chorizo steak with a side of fries at $390 ARS.
Once you know what you would like to eat, head to the cashier and place your order. The cashier will ask ‘nombre’ which means ‘name’ so it’s similar to the ordering process in Starbucks. They then call you when your order is ready. While that’s all happening you can watch your steak happily sizzling away on the winched Santa Maria grill.
We couldn’t believe the quality of this steak. Perfectly cooked and with a superb smokey flavour. Why can’t they do this back at home? I guess South America in general have a far more relaxed approach to health and safety than we do back in the U.K.
The fries too were crunchy and delicious. Ample seating is available in the centre of the food court with many people now flocking to the Parrilla place for their lunchtime fix. One slight drawback is the plastic cutlery that is provided with the meal, thankfully this only becomes a problem if you end up with a tough steak.
After lunch we headed off in search of dessert. Dulce de Leche is the sweet of choice down here in Argentina and it’s literally everywhere and on everything – and so it should be, it’s damn tasty and borderline addictive.
A large store containing all things Dulce de Leche sits just at the entrance to the food court. Walking around gazing at the products, we were approached by a member of staff offering free samples – why yes please. It was delicious.
We ended up bringing home some Dulce de Leche but that wasn’t our only purchase while in the store. We treated ourselves to a Dulce de Leche ice cream – a very large Dulce de Leche ice cream.
The ice cream was just as good as the products that we had tried in the store. Dulce de Leche is basically the Argentine version of caramel only made by boiling down milk, sugar and vanilla until it becomes a dense, caramelised syrup. Amazing stuff.
It’s well worth visiting Galerias Pacifico when in Buenos Aires. Even if shopping isn’t on your mind a cheap lunch of high quality can be found in the food court. The easiest way to get to the Galerias is from the Florida metro station, a quick 10 minute stroll down San Martin – just don’t stop for “Cambio”.
Opening Times: Daily 1000-2100
Nearest Metro: Florida