Empanadas in Buenos Aires are like farinata in Genoa: you find them everywhere, and they all look the same. Same shape, same colour, and similar fillings. But after a while, having become familiar with it, one begins to understand the differences and to choose their favourite corner.
We discovered Sebastian’s almost by chance. We decided to go to San Telmo from Plaza de Mayo on foot. Quite a long walk in the summer heat of a porteño March, but the city charm won out over the speed of the recorridos – the city buses. Getting around the streets of Buenos Aires is easy. The city follows a regular plan called quadras – the Argentine equivalent of the US blocks – where streets form 90-degree angles and regular square blocks.
We left the view of the balcony where Evita Peron made her speech to the nation, and we took avenida Bolivar, heading south.
Another characteristic of Buenos Aires is the length of its streets, especially the avenidas. Avenida Rivadavia, at almost 25 kilometres, is said to be one of the longest roads in the world. Bolivar, our calle, is not so long but defends itself well, passing through the barrios Monserrat, San Telmo and Barracas.
Just before the Bolivar y Chile crossroads – here, directions are given by pointing to the intersection – we notice a colourful but somewhat crumpled sign with decorations that refer to some prints of the melancholic Buenos Aires oozing smoke and tango.
We arrived in front of a shop window that, at first sight, went unnoticed. No doubt it witnessed better times. We entered, driven by a decadent curiosity. The ambience was small and lived-in: a few stools, a counter, a fridge and a range of fragrant empanadas – carne picada (i.e. minced meat), Roquefort y queso, vegetables, chicken. The best so far.
And from that day on, a trip to Sebastian’s marks the beginning of every return to Buenos Aires.