Bar El Federal

San Telmo

  • Ambience 80%
  • Service 75%
  • Food 85%
  • Creativity 80%
  • Value 95%

Restaurant Details
Restaurant Details
Bar El Federal
Locale: San Telmo
Address: Carlos Calvo 599
Telephone: +54 11 4361-7328
Restaurant Type: Casual Dining
Cuisine: Sandwiches-Salads
Service Type: Table Service
Price: $$
Menu items offered: Sandwiches
Hours:
Sun-Sat: 8am to 2am, ,


Review Summary
This historical landmark doubles as a restaurant and bar. It’s an interesting ambience. But it’s one of the dirtiest restaurants in the city, rivaled only by Chan Chan and the parilla Desnivel in that category. The good news. They offer a primo turkey sandwich and charcuterie platter at better than reasonable prices.

The full review for Bar El Federal

Review by: Ollie O Rating: 4.0 stars Review Date: 08/20/2018

Bar El Federal is allegedly the oldest bar in Buenos Aires that is still in existence. The history of the bar dates back to 1864, but the bar as it existed in the 19th century was remodeled in the early 20th century and the current restaurant claims to have most of the original architectural elements from that era, most prominently a large wood bar with hand-carved elements.

There are historical relics hanging throughout the bar, the windows are painted with memorable slogans from that era, and the menu cover is painted in the classic style of Argentine decoration called “fileteado”.

And I think it’s very possible that the dust on the bottles on the top shelf above the bar may well date back to the early 20th century as well. The employees clearly haven’t dusted that top shelf in a few years. Perhaps the owners haven’t sold enough turkey sandwiches to warrant the purchase of ladder.

In other words, the place is not exactly tidy and clean. Notwithstanding the surplus dust, the restaurant still has historical relevance. More historical relevance, than culinary relevance.

The menu resembles the Encyclopedia Britannica. It even has numbered pages and likely has more items on the menu than The Cheesecake Factory. Call the Guinness Book of World records. This menu deserves an award.

I was expecting a huge disappointment with regard to the food. But, in fact, I was pleasantly surprised. I think I would limit your dining adventure at Bar El Federal to food from one of two categories on that menu … the platters of cured meats and cheeses or the sandwiches. That’s what I ordered and was astounded by the high quality of what I received.

I ordered the small platter of Caciocavallo cheese and longaniza sausage (an Argentine sausage similar to salami). I sincerely doubt whether what they served was an imported cheese as that rarely occurs in Buenos Aires, but one thing’s for sure, this cheese was delicious. The most flavorful cheese I’ve tasted in Buenos Aires. And the sausage was equally impressive. The platter included a large fresh-baked roll.

For the sandwich, I was expecting a few thin slices of packaged cold cuts on a couple of slices bread. Instead, what I received was a big, fresh-baked bun with shards of thick-cut turkey breast piled on top with fresh lettuce and tomato slices. I was beyond surprised. This is one the best sandwiches I’ve been served in Buenos Aires. I highly recommend it. Now be aware that they have a conserved turkey breast sandwich that is said to be the house specialty. I can’t vouch for that one. I had the white chicken breast sandwich shown under the category of Sandwiches de Blanco de Pavita on that encyclopedia posing as a menu. I can recommend that one. I’ll try the other one and update the review later.

I was stumped on how to rate this restaurant on Ambience. The historical significance and the interesting artifacts warranted a high rating. The place clearly is unique. But the fact they hadn’t bothered to dust off the top shelf in about half a decade sort of distracted from the beauty of the place. I haven’t seen a dirtier floor in all of Buenos Aires either.

Service was acceptable but could have been more attentive. I was having to flag the waitress down to get service.

To be honest, the sandwich and charcuterie platter were so good and so inexpensive that I’d definitely recommend the restaurant. Maybe if every patron that reads this review complains about how filthy the place is, the owner or one of the employees will learn how to use a broom and a feather duster. Be sure to mention it when you’re there.


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