Bad American Diners in Buenos Aires

13 May
A real American diner

A real American diner, note the dear painting.

The classic American diner. Sometimes known as the “greasy spoon” and rightly so. There’s rarely anything gourmet in an American diner, even the best ones like Lou Mitchell’s in Chicago have greasy hashbrowns and fake, processed cheese. People don’t go to diners because they like the food, people go to diners because they have a sentimental value, they make you feel comforatble…something about those red vinyl booths and white ceramic coffee cups that just scream home-sweet-home. At least for me they bring back fond memories of pouring coffee after coffee at the Brady Street Pharmacy in Milwaukee (RIP…)

So why on earth is replicating diners such a fashionable thing in foreign countries? When I first started living abroad, I gobbled up any sliver of America I could…that meant hunting out a bagel place in Amersterdam, eating Dunkin’ Donuts in the Barcelona subway station, and, of the course, spending my precious Euros at the horribly cramped and dirty Breakfast in America…in Paris.

Buenos Aires has a few of their own replicas, that are somehow quite popular with the Argentines. Take for example the disgusting Muu lecheria on Plaza Armenia. Possibly the most disgusting meal I’ve ever had. Or Magdalena’s party with their impossibly greasy and over-spiced potatoes and horrible Barney-inspired interior. And there is a handful more, Randall’s, Burgers and Pancakes, all offering the same “free refills!” and menu filled with frozen-then-deep-fried options. The only American-inspired restaurant that had the tiniest glimmer of hope was The Office. Too bad the service was horrible, and the management had absolutely no idea how to, well…manage a restaurant.

But all that aside, I was actually happy when I saw that Trixie’s was opening a second location in Palermo Hollywood (just a few skips from my house!) I’ve never been to their first location, but I figured, hey – if they are opening a sequel, the original must be pretty damn good. Not to mention their facebook page is filled with fantastic reviews from satisfied customers (or perhaps paid and coerced?)

So it was with visions of long afternoons spent drinking coffee and eating pie, leaned back in a booth reading a book, that I set out one Sunday morning to check out Trixie’s.

The ambiance is your classic fake diner look, booths, chrome, and Elvis playing on the stereo. The menu – normal, burgers, eggs, pancakes, blah. We opted for two burgers considering that they were highly-acclaimed on their guia oleo page (again, paid?) We also went for the “American coffee” with refill to complete the experience.

Now let me just say, I didn’t go here with too many high hopes, so thankfully when I was let down, it wasn’t so bad. The burgers came nicely cooked on the outside, with that nice, crunchy, almost-burnt crust, but tough and rubbery on the inside, the buns were just ok, not homemade (again, the office…you were this close!), the fries- boring, white, limp. The coffee….ok, I know american coffee is watery, but c’mon people! Not to mention that when I asked for milk the waitress told me that the american coffee is served black and milk was not included, it was only when I told her I’d pay for a pitcher of milk that she brought it to me, and then ended up not charging me for it, c’mon lady! And they have a “one refill policy.” Boring.

I didn’t want to push my luck, so I opted not to try the pie and instead came home and heated up some frozen apple pies that I keep on hand for occasions like these.

Why can’t we just end this fashion of trying to bring crappy America to the rest of the world? I mean, I’m not going to go to France and open up an Uggi’s for christ sakes! Let us focus on bringing the good American food to the hungry masses, let’s do it right, like Thanksgiving in Paris, which has the most delicious cheesecake in the whole world, and when it was serving brunch, the best goddamn potato gratin and pernod-spiked hollandaise sauce, my god how I miss that place, not to mention the fantastic waitstaff (ahem) and adorable, foul-mouthed owners (ah, Federic and his large vocab of swear words!) or what about NOLA chef, Liza Puglia in Buenos Aires, who knows how to use spice correctly and whose coming-soon puerta cerrada is the most-anticipated event of invierno 2012.

Good american food does exist! Let’s take back our cuisine from the bad, fake diners and over-priced cupcake cafés! Vive los yanquís!

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2 Responses to “Bad American Diners in Buenos Aires”

  1. TL May 24, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    When I read the title of this post, I was expecting it to be about American diners, as in people dining, being rude in Buenos Aires restaurants! Both work–ha.

    I second your review of Muu Lecheria, I think it really was the worst meal I have ever had in BA, the hamburger came out with cardboard still stuck to the side of the patty and I had a woozy stomach for hours afterward.

    I’ve been to the Trixie in Costa Salguero, I naively ordered pancakes and got a panqueque with dulce de leche…!!! The coffee I remember being pretty good though, from a drip machine.

    I used to eat a really good hamburger at Malas Artes, right on Plaza Serrano, but they closed not too long ago. And it’s been a while since I’ve had one, but Kansas doesn’t do such a bad job, if you really want an American style burger in a restaurant. Other than that, a little carne picada and a toasted Bilbo hamburger bun and 1-2-3 hamburger. For this, my pickles are perfect*! (*unpaid advertising)

    • kvolman May 24, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Ha, that interpretation works too! But, I’ve never been too appalled by any Americans in porteño restaurants.
      I actually went to The Embers in San Isidro last weekend and was pleasantly suprised at how good the burger was. I’m not talking gourmet burgers, but just good-tasting burgers.
      I need your pickles, BADLY! Can’t wait til the 9th!

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