Date of Visit: July 2 2013
With the bright colours and funky murals evoking Bohemian vibes, one would expect La Boca Latino Bar to be easy to find. In my case, it was not. I had walked past it countless times without knowing the existence of a bar tucked away near the thoroughfare, hidden under the escalator on Level 3 of The Connection at Pavilion. It was a mere coincidence that I was in the vicinity one day and was led by the loud music to a crowd gathering in front of the bar. Apparently this is a popular bar for live singing and dancing, in particular tango and samba nights. I made a mental note to visit the bar when it is quieter, which happened to be on this particular Tuesday night.
The essence of the rough-and-tumble shanty barrio of ‘Carminito’, in the La Boca dockside district of Buenos Aires are recaptured by the brightly coloured hand-painted murals on the wall. Together with colourful flags, balloons and chairs, they added an eclectic ambience together with little touches of novelties such as window-shutters to frame the portraitures, wrought-iron balconies and spiral stairs to further enliven the space with loud music. My only hang-up was that it was not air-conditioned and a smoking restaurant.
With a mixologist hailing all the way from Brazil, an extensive drinks menu showcasing his skill is a must and only proper. Alas, me being me, I still ordered our usual tipple – a Caipirinha – nothing more perfect to end a hectic day than a zesty alcoholic kick with mouth-puckering fresh limes.
The menu is another extensive list of Latino cuisine detailing foods from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Peru (a reference to the colourful flags at the bar). It was hard to pick, but we settled for the ‘Argentinian theme’. We were looking forward to sample Argentinian rotisserie steak (which comes in skewer) but advised by the server that it will be a slab of steak instead.
Striploin (RM68) was cooked medium-rare as requested. Charred on the outside, still juicy with a bit of red on the inside. Served ‘gaucho-style’ with chimichurri sauce, and a side of mixed green salad and chips. It would be wonderful if the cut originates from Argentina, but then again happy with the Aussie alternative.
Pizza Rellena (RM30) is Argentinian folded pizza, similar to the Italian calzone. I had a mild shock when it arrived, for it was a huge thing! Relief came after cutting it open to find that it was puffed up by hot steam. I was delighted with the generous stuffing of ham, salami, mozzarella, basil and olives. A tomato sauce came with it, but did nothing to enhance the already delish pie/pizza.
Overly-stuffed, we did not opt for dessert although we were looking forward for the Churros when we first sat down. This and also the very rowdy group of red-neck expats just seated at our next table made for quick exit.
All-in, service was affable and smooth (quick) and I believe we met the proprietor as well. Judging from his friendliness and his overly familiar use of the word ‘tapow, tapow‘ (take away), I am sure he uses it often on his customers for the huge serves he serves in his bar.
Que volveré ! I will be back for Peruvian next, for Creviche and Pisco Sour.