Caleb Thornton-Shaw ditches beef in search of something more exotic at Los Infernales, where street food meets wild animals.
Los Infernales first started as a food truck, delivering it’s meals to fairs and events. After an enthusiastic response, owners Mariana, Federico, and Claudio decided to open Los Infernales restaurant in San Telmo. The slogan is, ‘Food with identity’, seeking to re-discover the flavours of precolonial Argentina. The end result is best described as street food meets wild animals.
The trio have a passion for the history of Argentina and its food. The name Los Infernales is steeped in history and this is why they decided on this name. Los Infernales were an army of brave gauchos, who defended the northern border from the advance of Peru. Claudio wanted a representation that reminded people of where they came from.
Inside, the atmosphere is trendy with indigenous touches, a throwback to the days of the gauchos. The meals are served on steel plates, the drinks in steel cups, just as the gauchos would have dined. This is combined with subtle lighting, extensive drawings, dark wood, and ornaments to show that Los Infernales has it’s own identity sculpted from history.
Mariana begins by explaining the history of Argentine food. “Street food is the norm in many regions of our country.” Think about all the different delicacies available when walking around the streets: tamales, empanadas, choripans – it all originated on the streets. Today this food is available at all price ranges and tastes, but as Mariana states, the chef “has to be in touch with the streets” to truly deliver an authentic product.
Claudio shows me an extensive list of recipes. Surprisingly, each To my surprise all meat products are their own recipe; recipes that have been handed down for generations, and developed to suit modern day palates. The meat is not prepared on-site, this is done by a butcher who specifically prepares the products following the Los Infernales recipes. This eases the load on the restaurant, as it is quite small. The homemade recipes used at Los Infernales show that they really care about the taste of the final product and in delivering an authentic experience.
The menu is extensive: everything from rabbit to beef is on offer, and most things in between -even ostrich! Prices for the main meals start from $100, with a daily set menu available from $140. Picking up on Buenos Aires’ latest trend, to accompany the meals are Portlander crafts beers, available as either a Red Ale or Golden Lager.
As Los Infernales has many options available, i wanted to ensure i got to taste all these obscure meats. First up, the venison burger. Deer is a difficult meat to cook as it is very low in fat, meaning that it has a tendency to be tough when cooked. But with the first bite the patty broke apart and the flavours subtly complimented each other. The entire burger was juicy and soft, and the smoked BBQ sauce delivered the final pleasant hit.
Whilst placing a simple choripan in front of me, Claudio said: “The first meat consumed in Argentina was ostrich’’. The Ñandu is an ostrich sausage, served between bread and topped with a brunoise of corn, pepper, and cucumber. With the mix of colours it looks nicer than most choripans, although, as with most choripans, it is a bit tough to bite through the bread, sausage skin, and meat. But that’s all part of eating street food: being able to eat a whole meal with your hands as you walk down the road. The difference at Los Infernales is that the meat is so tasty.
No journey into street food in Argentina is complete without an empanada? Los Infernales offers six different empanada flavours, including La Patagonia (lamb, onions and mushrooms), La Norteña (turmeric, onion, potato and goats cheese) and, La Cuyana (wild boar and kiwicha). Each one has a different pastry casing and tastes totally different. This is where you come to eat llama wrapped into Bolivian turmeric pastry.
For meat lovers you can delve into rabbit choripans, Angus burgers, buffalo milanesas and more. And veggies lovers are also accommodated, with mushroom choripans, quinoa burgers, and large mixed salads, among other things. There is also a great range of desserts, breakfast meals and iced teas.
‘Food with identity’, that’s the slogan of Los Infernales. Each meal has history attached to it and really is a journey between Argentina’s precolonial times to modern day street food. Upon arriving, I wasn’t expecting to eat deer, rabbit, llama, wild boar, and ostrich. But eat them I did, and I enjoyed every single last bite.
Los Infernales is on Carlos Calvo 492 in San Telmo. Open Sunday to Wednesday from 10am to 11pm and Thursday to Saturday from 10am to 2am. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/LosInfernalesAR.
With limited seating, Los Infernales recommends making a reservation in the evenings.