If you’re fortunate, you won’t even need a map to guide you in the direction of Costanera Sur, a street food mecca in Buenos Aires, Argentina. All you’ll need is a slight breeze, one which picks up the scent of roasted meat, twirls it through the air, and delivers it straight to your nose.
The lunchtime crowd mixes groups of friends, families, and moustachioed pensioners passing the afternoon hours with young office workers from the Puerto Madero district, their sleeves rolled up and collars unbuttoned in the midday sun.
Everyone is there for the same thing. Well, not exactly the same thing as there is a diverse street food selection, but for something to eat.
Bondiola, choripan, churrasquito, hamburgesa, and lomito – if you don’t already have a favourite food stall for these grilled lunches then be prepared to hit the street. The stalls run the length of a two kilometre boulevard and the best way to get up close and personal with the different grills is by using your feet.
If you’re not pressed for time then start your street food walking tour at the southern end of Avenida Tristán Achaval Rodríguez and work your way north. The scent of roasted meat, so delicate when carried by the wind, will at this point be mouth-wateringly robust.
One of the culprits will no doubt be the bondiola al limón – it can be found sizzling on almost every grill. As the tender slice of pork shoulder roasts above the coals, it’s liberally squirted with a special mixture of lemon juice, water, and garlic – both tenderising and flavouring the pork.
If there’s a bondiola al limón on the grill, then its partner in crime, the choripan, won’t be far away. A thick chorizo sausage is sliced in half lengthwise and left to sputter, while the baguettes for both sandwiches are pressed face-down, collecting any leftover drops of grease.
When you finally have your hot sandwich in hand, you can get creative with the condiments. Classic chimichurri is ubiquitous, as is salsa criolla, but you can make all sorts of combinations with fresh vegetables, sautéed onions, and for those who like thing picante – chillies.
One of the more unique things about this street food mecca is that it borders the Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve, a quiet, green oasis abutting the waters of the Río de la Plata. The main entrance to the reserve is at the starting point of your street food walking tour, Avenida Tristán Achaval Rodríguez 1550.
If you’re walking off a heavy lunch, a languid stroll around the ecological reserve will take two hours. The views from Costanera Sur of modern Puerto Madero are stunning. The tranquillity of the wind rustling through the marshes is juxtaposed by the hyper-high rise buildings, and if you can find a quiet spot to stretch out on the grass, there is no better place in Buenos Aires to be.