It started innocently enough. I fully intended to try just the Miami Spice menu at Los Fuegos last summer. Instead, I went rogue, had a brief YOLO moment, and decided to order off the regular menu. Confession: I was 100% skeptical. There’s no such thing as Argentinian “fine dining” in my book. Just like a Cuban “upscale” dinner; por favor, que insulto. I have zero interest in having a palomilla steak cutely curled up on my plate and topped with single long plantain. No, thank you. Given my husband also happens to be un Argentino and I’ve had more asados than I can count in my lifetime, my curiosity was certainly (albeit cautiously) peaked.
Located inside the posh Faena Hotel, I’d already visited months before while Alinea hosted a pop-up. I had no idea Los Fuegos would be taking over the very same space immediately afterwards. Set against a paneled ivory background, the cheetah print upholstered booths, red leather chairs, gold tropical print curtains, and red floral carpeting all sit boldly and unapologetically. You’ll know you’ve arrived when your eye-gaze has been forced upwards to the grand, multi-tiered, gold-bulbed chandelier. Admittedly on the over-the-top side, the space can be a lot to take in at first. Ultimately, I fell in love with the look and vibe and now I can’t get enough. They even have live jazz piped in from the nearby Living Room lounge into the dining room. Feeling cold? Someone will be right over to offer a pashmina for those bare Miami shoulders.
The concept for Los Fuegos, by Argentine grillmaster Francis Mallmann, stems from the ancient art of live-fire cooking. If you haven’t caught his Chef’s Table episode on Netflix, I suggest watching it before going. There is no shortcut, no artsy plating, and no deconstructing tried and true recipes; everything old is new again. Despite the restaurant’s elegance, the food remains rustic, authentic, and flavorful simply by following traditional techniques and using high quality ingredients.
What I’ve tried:
Wood Oven Empanadas
Octopus a la Plancha
12 oz. Australian wagyu strip steak
12 oz. Australian Lamb Rack
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Polenta a la Plancha
Dulce de Leche Flan
Dulce de Leche Panqueque
Espresso (Faena Blend by Starbucks)
HITS (oh, so many of them…)
First up, the lamb and its accompanying pistachio dressing. Several years ago, I fell in love with the one at Wolfgang’s Steakhouse and no others have ever come close to being as good. Until now. Los Fuegos has taken over that top spot. The lightly charred octopus (garlic aioli, smoked paprika oil, tomato, sun-dried black olives) and potato confit had me slowing down and longing for each new bite. Filled with hand-cut filet mignon, the freshly baked empanadas do not qualify as the average, everyday ones found at Argentinian bakeries. No way. No how. Testing my will power, I successfully managed to make each bite smaller in the hopes they would last longer.
Casually displayed by the entrance , the Napoleon caught my eye from the moment I arrived. Think chocolate, real sweet and thick dulce de leche and mascarpone layered between golden puff-pastry sheets. Lastly, as a self-professed flan snob, I must admit their version caught me off guard. I did not expect to be served the creamiest, smoothest, sweetest flan I would come to crave and order with every single future visit.
Note to self, bucket-list experience wanted: a FAENA Hotel staycation including dinner at both restaurants and a show at Faena theater. Aaah, a girl can dream…