Home > Buenos Aires, Food > All you can eat at Cafe Marini for free!

All you can eat at Cafe Marini for free!

Straight after our last class at Spanish School this afternoon we were famished and decided to walk towards the apartment (usually we take the Subte) to find new wonders of Palermo. Santa Fe is a busy artery running through Palermo and has hundreds of shops for everything. What you don’t see any sign of – thankfully – is a Zara, a Bata or a McDonalds.

There are plenty of clothes shops, shoe shops, stationery marts, key makers, lingerie shops and cafes. We passed a couple of very large cafes which were not even 10% full (at 2pm on a friday) which didn’t forebode well. Santa Fe is full of such places where you can get everything from parilla fare to pizza and handmade pasta. These places are usually full of locals as they offer traditional food at reasonable prices.

One of the salad counters

We came by another large cafe which looks very grand from the outside and through the windows we could see that it was quite busy. We decided to give it a go and entered a palatial room with chandeliers, art deco style fittings, waiters in smart penguin attire and a nice buzz. Towards the end of this room, a new wide corridor leads to the back of the cafe and through each side of this thoroughfare are stalls displaying the foods they are cooking fresh.

There is a large salad station to the right with everything you can imagine including cheeses, hams, cold cuts of meat and cold pasta salads. Right opposite is the dessert counter. As I look beyond I realise they have set up the whole thing so you can start on your right, have each course as you go around until you have double-backed at the desserts.


Hmm, now I didn’t quite get what we were supposed to do as it is a fixed price place per person, so I figured that we have a salad and choose a main-course. Loaded with my newly learned Spanish I went up to the man who looked like the manager and asked him what the deal was. He took me around and told me about the food at each counter – even though it was clear what it was because a plate of each dish was displayed prominently at the front of each counter and told me it was all for free! I asked him again, and he repeated that it was for free. This time – and I am embarrassed to admit this – I asked him in English in case I hadn’t understood him correctly. He spread his arms to take in the entire cafe and said – “Yes it’s all for free, as long as you pay 45 pesos each.” It transpired that for a fixed price, you can eat whatever you want and go up to the counters as many times as you liked.

Woodfired pizza oven

When I went to speak to the manager, Craig decided he knew the dal anyway and went up to the parilla and got the largest plate of meat (probably thinking he can only have one plate). So when I got back with a small salad he looked at me as though I was a nutcase. I explained and he looked sheepish but as he had already shovelled half of the meat into his belly, he was no longer hungry. I on the other hand, had lots of small bits of food to enjoy as many dishes as I could!

So after the great salad bar on the right, you come to an oriental counter which today was shut, past that there is a rotisserie sort of a place serving up joints of chicken with vegetables, sauces etc. At the end there is a large parillada with great hunks of food smoking and every piece of offal you can think of cooking on the grill.

The manager

Here you turn around and walk back the other side. First up is a fish counter with three different fish dishes including a seafood paella. Past that is a contour with homemade pastas and sauces, after that a woodfired oven baking fresh pizzas and serving up pies, tarts, flans and tortillas. And then a dessert counter as large as I have ever seen with a large counter for ice-creams, another for cakes, another for rice-pudding and yet another for other assorted desserts (not having a sweet tooth I paid little attention to this bit).

What a place I thought and tried as many dishes as I could without 1.bursting at the seams; and 2.attracting attention for getting up so many times! I can say that I liked everything I ate here – it wasn’t gourmet but it was good honey food and I have to say the pizza was the best I have tried in Buenos Aires – thin with decent mozzarella.

Highly recommended!

  1. toogreytogrind
    February 5, 2011 at 20:38

    ¿Cual calles? That´s in my budget!

    • February 6, 2011 at 11:23

      Santa Fe, circa de Estacion Bulnes.

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