Monday, May 13, 2019

Here’s What the Argentine Price Comparison List Looks Like in 2019

For the last three years I've been hoping that the Argentine peso would stabilize, but hoping IS POINTLESS! Those of you who have read my blog over the last seven years know the Argentine economy has jackknifed since the country's current president (Macri) took office in 2015.
Translation: Macri, My Fridge Doesn't Lie

Prices have gone up drastically! There are more homeless on the streets than when we got here in 2012 and businesses are going under like the lost city of Atlantis.
Meme translation
First part:
Hi mom! I found 300 pesos today. Go buy food for the kids and some milk for the baby.

Second part:
Thank you, my love! I left you some dinner. It's a torta frita with some mate.

Last Part:
I hope they never find out that I go out and steal so they can eat.

Lately, memes have reflected the everyday struggles of the Argentine people. But even in the midst of despair, locals have found ways to keep their heads above water. I don't know how they do it, but I have to admit, I'm impressed.

The current value of the Argentine peso is equivalent to 2 U.S. cents. Yes! You read that right! But merchandise like clothes, electronics, and food are priced by their actual costs (which is in USD) and then converted to the equivalent of Argentine pesos. You'll see what I mean when you look at my short comparison pricing list from 2013 versus today. There are only two items on the list that have a pricing comparison of 2016 versus 2019 and 2017 versus 2019. So take a look so you can get an idea of what the country is currently experiencing.  

The Argentine Peso Versus USD
I wanted to share this updated list of what one USD is worth per Argentine pesos since we moved here in 2012.
  • On December 31st, 2012, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 4.90
  • On December 31st, 2013, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 6.51
  • On July 29th, 2014, the cost of one US dollar in Argentine pesos was: 8.19
  • On December 24th, 2015, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 12.97
  • On June 19th, 2016, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was: 13.89
  • On June 13th, 2017, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was 15.90
  • On September 26, 2017, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos was 17.90
  • On May 13, 2019, the cost of one US Dollar in Argentine pesos is 45.52.

Now, let's take a look at the pricing comparison list!
2013: $10.59 Argentine Pesos (.24 US Cents)
2019: $65 Argentine Pesos ($1.45 USD)

2013: $7.99 Argentine Pesos (.18 US Cents)

2019: $62.99 Argentine Pesos ($1.41 USD)

2013: $5.49 Argentine Pesos (.12 US Cents)

2019: $41.49 Argentine Pesos (.93 US Cents)

2013: $8.45 Argentine Pesos (.19 US Cents)

2019: $45 Argentine Pesos ($1.03 USD)

2013: $9.99 Argentine Pesos (.23 US Cents)

2019: $76.99 Argentine Pesos ($1.74 USD) AND NO! The different flavor doesn't account for the price hike!

2013: $8.65 Argentine Pesos (.20 US Cents)

2019: $42.49 Argentine Pesos (.97 US Cents)

2013: $12.99 Argentine Pesos (.29 US Cents)

2019: $95.99 Argentine Pesos ($2.20 USD)

2016: $15.99 Argentine Pesos (.36 US Cents)

2019: $59.99 Argentine Pesos ($1.38 USD) Three years made on huge difference!

2013: $15.99 Argentine Pesos (.36 US Cents)

2019: $113.99 Argentine Pesos ($2.62 USD)

2013: $6.69 Argentine Pesos (.15 US Cents)

2019: $41.49 Argentine Pesos (.95 US Cents)

2013: $24.59 Argentine Pesos (.55 US Cents)

2019: $132.99 Argentine Pesos ($3.00 USD) Note: there's 7 grams less in the current can.

2013: $10.40 Argentine Pesos (.23 US Cents) for Diet Pepsi

2019: $54 Argentine Pesos ($1.22 USD) for regular Pepsi

2017: $158.99 Argentine Pesos ($3.59 USD)

2019: $259.99 Argentine Pesos ($5.86 USD)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Once You Go Black Pan You Never Want to Go Back

If you're ever in Cordoba and are craving a mouth-watering burger that will make your toes curl, I recommend Black Pan. It's located in Nueva Cordoba at Av. HipĆ³lito Yrigoyen 419, and they have some fabulous business hours that ignore the Argentine siesta. Trust me! Once you go Black Pan you never want to go back.

Their hours are:
Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Friday from 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. (AWESOME!!!)
Saturday from 11 a.m. - 1 a.m.
Sunday from 11 a.m. - 12 a.m.

But what makes this place different from all the other burger joints in Cordoba or Buenos Aires? Well, as the name of the restaurant suggests, their buns are black but don't let that weird you out. The aesthetics of this burger may be different from the type of burgers you'd find at most fast food places, but your taste buds will have an out of this world experience.
Once you order at the counter, you'll be given a beeper that will flash once your food is ready. 
In the meantime, you can choose to sit on the ground floor or the second level. If the weather is nice, you can sit in the outdoor dining area, too.
Translation: Think Globally, Eat Locally
They also offer a variety of menu items. You can pick a basic burger or one that has double cheddar, onions, and more. Sadly, they use panceta instead of bacon (and no, it's not the same!) because the latter is pretty tough to find down here. The menu prices are decent too. Just remember these are Argentine pesos, not USD, so don't panic.
Convert any of the menu item prices into USD using this site.

The menu also offers a veggie burger. You can even order a salad, which isn't shown on these menus but can be seen on the overhead menu at the register.
You can also order a variety of differently prepared fries and onion rings as your side. My personal favorite are the nachos! Back home you could go to a Denny's and order yourself a nacho platter with ground beef, cheddar cheese and sour cream. Although Black Bun doesn't offer all that, it does come with cheese and panceta. Oh and by the way, the nachos are also black just like the buns. Unfortunately, the last time we were there, the cashier told us that they might be taking the black nachos off the menu because they're having issues importing them.
If you still have space in your stomach for dessert, Black Pan offers ice cream on a stick. Alright! So it's not exactly over the top, but a sweet treat is a great way to end a dining experience.
But I'll admit, I didn't really want to leave. I love the decor and the fact that the dining area wasn't packed between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. 
There's also something inviting about the interior´s design. This is the kind of restaurant I would have expected to find in B.A. But it was nice seeing it here in our host province of Cordoba.

I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that it stays in business because that's a tough thing for restaurants to do in the deteriorating Argentine economy.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Here’s How You Can Use Your Passport to Save Money at Argentine Hotels

So here's how you can use your passport to save money at Argentine hotels. Next time you pay for your hotel stay, make sure to remind the front desk clerk that they shouldn't charge you the 21% tax fee (known as IVA). But this only works if you're a non-native or possess dual citizenship like I do.

We've stayed at the Mundial Hotel several times over the last (almost) 7 years and we saved some cash by showing our passports to the clerk. Once they verified our nationality, the next step was easy.
You'll have to pay with a debit or credit card to take advantage of this tax exemption. But you might find a hotel that will take cash and give you a tax break. This was just our experience with Mundial Hotel.

We paid 15,000 Argentine pesos (344.52 USD) for 5 nights at Mundial Hotel earlier this year and saved about 3,150 Argentine pesos (72.35 USD) with the tax break. When converting it to USD, the difference may not seem like a big deal. But whether you're saving $10 or $70, a discount is a discount. Think about it. You can use that extra 3,150 Argentine pesos to eat at a nice restaurant or buy something you didn't think was in your budget.

I know I wouldn't have blown 5,000 Argentine pesos (114.84 USD) on two items at a comic book store if it hadn't been for that tax discount. But that's a story for next time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Subway Franchise Is Dying in Argentina and I’m Not Shedding a Tear

Subway, the fast food franchise that sells sub sandwiches, is dunzo in Cordoba province. In 2018, they cleared out right under our noses and were replaced by HOLA Sr. THOMPSON. It's a semi-imitation of Subway, but with an Argentine twist to their menu. The name is also a reference to an episode of "The Simpsons" where witness protection agents were training Homer to respond to "Hello, Mr. Thompson."
But did Subway leave Argentina for good? That would be a no. There are still tons of Subway restaurants throughout the province of Buenos Aires, which was lucky for me, or so I thought.

In 2019, I paid another visit to the Argentine capital and decided to go to a Subway restaurant for a taste of home. I figured this would be the last time I'd probably get to sample a meatball sub or a B.M.T., which contains salami, ham, and pepperoni. But my final experience with the Subway franchise wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
For starters, their store hours claimed they'd be open at 10 a.m. I got there at 11 and was welcomed by a shutter full of graffiti. I waited patiently until about 12:20 p.m. Then a Subway employee lifted the shutters and opened the door.
He told me the soda machine only dispensed Coke, which was fine. But when I went to pour the drink into my cup, all I got was clear soda water. The guy just laughed at the situation and suggested I wait until the machine warmed up. So I did. The Coke finally came out the right color for me, but came out clear when my hubby tried filling his cup. Despite this, I was really looking forward to eating my sub. 
They didn't have a meatball sub option on their menu either, so I went with the B.M.T. But the sandwich didn't taste right. I've never been disappointed by the Subway subs I've eaten in Florida, New York, or Cordoba, but this was definitely a nightmare to my stomach. It smelled and tasted like all the ingredients in the sandwich had been sitting next to a kerosene canister. 

I tried eating it anyway because I hate throwing food away. But once my stomach started hurting, I tossed the sandwich in the garbage can and walked out. 

Now, given the spiraling Argentine economy and the fact that Subway has had to close several stores to stay in business, I wouldn't be surprised if 2019 is the year Subway vanishes from Argentina. But after this experience, I probably wouldn't shed a tear.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Here's Why Taco Box Will Have You Saying Aye-Yi-Yi

It was a lot easier finding a Mexican restaurant in the States than it is in Cordoba, our host province. I've tried a couple of places here and there, but they all failed to impress me. And before you ask, no, there aren't any Chipotle restaurants in Argentina. They don't even have a Taco Bell! How sad is that?

Fortunately, when we went to Buenos Aires, we found a lovely restaurant called Taco Box, which offers outdoor and indoor dining. But given that it was summer, we ate indoors where the A/C would keep us from melting like a snowman in front of heat lamps. In case you didn't know, January = scorching Argentine summer.
When we got there, we walked passed the outdoor dining area and went up a few steps. We found our own seats and noticed a stylish bar on the far end. The place was nice and dim, which as you can tell from some of the pics, made it difficult to take selfies. But there was something very relaxing about the environment, and the staff was good looking and friendly. They even gave us complimentary nachos with salsa. But would they have us saying aye-yi-yi by the end of the night?
So, the first thing we did was look at the drinks they had. I ordered a Pina Colada while Zach ordered a Margarita. 
Then we ordered a dish that contained two burritos, two tacos, and a series of mini-tacos and taquito sticks.
I'll admit, I was expecting the tacos and burritos to contain pieces of meat strips. This is what we've typically encountered when we ordered Mexican food in Argentina. They doesn't usually come with any beans, which is vital for any Mexican dish. But Taco Box exceeded our expectations!
Not only did they use ground beef in each of their dishes, but they also added beans. We didn't even care that this would make us gassy all night when we got back to the hotel. We loved the taste and the flavors, which is a rare but welcomed treat.
Taco Box left us so impressed that we decided to go back the following night for drinks and desserts. Their Pina Coladas were so good that I ordered myself another one and Zach ordered himself a Margarita.
For dessert, Zach got himself this fabulous bowl of ice cream while I ordered a slice of key lime pie. I love all pies, but being a Florida boy, Key Lime pies are one of my favorite. But it's tough finding a decent slice in Cordoba, but not so tough to find in Buenos Aires. The only complaint I have about Taco Box's Key Lime Pie is that they added cherry dressing on top, which is okay for a cheesecake. But I've never had a Key Lime Pie with anything on top, except maybe some lime shavings. Other than that, everything was delicious and affordable. And yes! Taco Box had us saying aye-yi-yi. Just don't say aye-yi-yi outloud in Argentina. Argentines don't use cliche Mexican phrases, at all! 
When we come back to B.A., we will definitely make Taco Box a priority. But if you're in the city or planning on visiting, then here are the meal and drink menus (whose prices are subject to change)