Hernesto Fontanella, founder of El Desnivel, passed away during the economic crisis of 2000 – his legacy is one of Buenos Aires’ most famed parillas. Now Hernesto’s son Luis helms the till, and endearingly swears: ‘There are little angels looking after us. It’s thanks to a miracle we are still afloat.
When other restaurants went under, we stayed alive.’ Luis is a modest man. There is regularly a crowd of 50 or so crammed around El Desnivel’s door during the evenings, waiting to get their teeth into some of the fattest steaks in San Telmo. Diners come for the service, the packed atmosphere, the baked Proveleta cheese starters, the man-sized steaks and the flan with dulce de leche.
To avoid the crowds, come during the day and enjoy the patio at the rear. ‘Desnivel’ means ‘uneven’, a reference to the grubby interior, which is a far cry from the food. Turn up for lunch. Luis will give you a hug, and you will toddle off to San Telmo more than satisfied.