“All through the day how the hours rush by, you sit in the park and you watch the grass die.”
– John Denver, Singer, Saturday Night in Toledo, Ohio
Tigre – With a friend visiting for a couple of weeks, various things keep getting shifted around – we were going to go to Rosario on Monday and spend the day and night, coming back later yesterday, but thunderstorms set in up there and we decided to pass. We thought we’d go up the Delta and stay at a little b&b that a friend had told me about, but it turns out they’re only open on the weekends. So, still wanting to see the Delta, we headed up yesterday to Tigre – figuring on a bit of a boat ride on the river, maybe take a water taxi to one of the better island restaurants, a lazy sort of day and then back late in the evening. But, plans do go awry for various reasons – and the first was discovering on arrival in Tigre that the public water taxis don’t run on Tuesdays – one has to hire a private boat to get to the various islands where the better dining venues like El Gato Blanco or Beixa Flor are – and the best offer we found was for 300 pesos, which just wasn’t a good option to tack onto the price of lunch.
Only two river tour operators were open, the main square in the Mercado de Frutos was pretty much closed – it turns out it’s only really open from Thursday to Sunday. The dock area shops were all open, as were the local restaurants there – mostly tourist traps – but we spent an hour or so wandering around the center of town looking for a non-touristy restaurant (no one was willing to give us a recommendation – very interesting how unfriendly the locals were once we got away from the tourist area, I haven’t encountered that anywhere in Argentina before, but people were just simply blunt about not being willing to suggest anything other than we go back to the tourist area and leave them alone. But we saw some very pretty parts of the town, along with the main commercial street (which only seemed to have sandwich shops and takeout pizza available along it). Then, hungry, we headed back to the Puerto de Frutos and settled in at a local parrilla – had an interesting conversation with one of the port police officers, who basically told us there wasn’t a restaurant worth eating at in the puerto, but, again, wouldn’t give us a recommendation for anything in another part of town, telling us we ought to just stay in the immediate area. Why? Is there something dangerous happening in other parts of Tigre for tourists?
So, we picked El Lucero right on the main dock as a place to eat, as I was in the mood for some fish, and specifically thought it’d be fun to try one of the local river fish – and no one, really, no one, except them seemed to have local fish available – and then it turned out they didn’t either – they have them on the menu, but none actually available. We started off with a couple of chorizos and morcillas, which I ended up eating since my friend sort of looked at the two sausages and decided they weren’t for him (he’s a somewhat straightforward meat and potatoes kinda guy). But he did enjoy the matambre a la pizza, a long strip of skirt steak topped with thin sliced ham, melted mozzarella, tomatoes and herbs – sort of napolitana style, which is very popular on just about anything here in Argentina. I thought it desperately needed flavor, of any kind. The chorizo was passable, the morcilla initially was served ice cold in the middle, but after a return to the grill, turned out to be one of the better ones I’ve had.
My friend ordered one of the day’s specials, a brochete de lomo – a quite tasty kebab of thick slices of steak, cooked just to medium, interleaved with slices of bacon, onions, and peppers. It was far more than one person could eat, especially after the appetizer of the matambre which easily could have been a main course itself. In typical tourist trap fashion, our waiter (when he got around to taking our order, which took forever), asked if my friend wanted a side of fries with his brochete… failing to mention that it came with an order of fried waffle style potato chips already. We almost sent the fries back, but the chips, upon tasting, were pretty inedible, so we kept the fries.
I tucked in to the one and only local fish available, a pejerrey a la parrilla, which turned out to be fairly good. The fish was quite fresh, I did think it was slightly odd that it was clearly coated with flour before being grilled – something normally most places would only do for sauteing, but, with a dash of salt and lemon, it was simple and tasty. I still would have liked to try the local catfish, boga, which they advertised as being a specialty, but perhaps some other time, somewhere else. A side of mashed potatoes were quite good, still nice and lumpy, the way I like ’em. We finished off with a couple of coffees and headed back to the two open river tour operators, only to find that one of them wasn’t headed out again for another two hours, and the other had simply closed up shop early for the day – there really weren’t very many folks around. So, we bought a few little souveniers and headed back by train.