Hold your horses, cowboy. If you were under the impression that all Argentina has to offer is gaucho-style slabs of sirloin, it’s fair to say that chef Fernando Navas has some serious, ahem, beef with your line of thinking. Having manned the stoves at haute eateliers like El Bulli and Nobu, the distinguished pan-handler has now set about bringing a contempo, veg-inclusive take on his home nation’s cuisine to New York via Balvanera, an airy new LES bistro inspired by the diverse flavours of Buenos Aires.
Behind a monochrome mural and set of retractable doors, the breezy blue n’ white corner restaurant blends traditional tiles and an embossed ceiling with svelte banquettes and simple timber tables. Like the decor, the menu gives historical ingredients a modern makeover, debuting sharable tapas starters like crispy papa rotas with garlic aioli, truffle oil-dabbed scallops, and juicy, fried empanadas stuffed with roast beef, sweetcorn, peppers and Provolone cheese. Some steaks make the cut in the mains, where five offerings range from a simple seared skirt to dry-aged, bone-in striploin, and pescetarians and herbivores will find plenty to please in the daily market fish and handmade ricotta cavatelli. Ensure you leave room for the sinful desserts like the dulce de leche pecan pie. This is avant Argentinian – no bull!
152 Stanton St / LES / +1 212 533 3348 / 5.30pm-late daily / balvaneranyc.com