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A Reception – Cafe Buenos Aires

January 10, 2011 A Wedding 2 Comments

In about three weeks, I embark on a new voyage. It isn’t into the wines of Oregon, or Spain, or even France (although I should do that). No, my voyage is a voyage of two, a husband and a wife.

It is a marvelous thing to marry a person you love, a person that makes you a better human being. It is also marvelously exciting, and terrifying, and stressful! But I am looking forward to my changed personal state, it will be a wonderful thing.

Without getting on a vanity box and going on and on about MY wedding, and MY plans, I do want to use ALP to provide exposure to a few people who are helping with this exciting event. Behind any good weeding is a long list of dedicated and talented people.

We start today with the food and wine, a great place to start. Damaris and I knew we wanted to get married in our much loved Santa Barbara. After looking at a number of options (restaurants, private houses, freeway underpasses), we decided on an Argentinean restaurant we love called Café Buenos Aires. The food is amazing, the setting stunning, and it is a perfect mix of cuisine for our mixed families (American and Mexican).

Café Buenos Aires, which got its start in Santa Barbara in 1992, occupies an old historic (remodeled) gas station across the street from the Arlington Theater on State Street. Started by an Argentinean from Mendoza named Wally Ronchietto, it has become a staple of Santa Barbara fine dining. With a beautiful open courtyard and a charming indoor area, it is the perfect setting for almost any kind of event.

I sat down with Café Buenos Aires Manager Diego Leporini the other week and we spoke about their history, Argentinean culture, and their wine program.

ALP: Santa Barbara famously has many fine restaurants from a wide background. How does Café Buenos Aires fit in here?

DL: “We are the only Argentinean restaurant from here to LA, so there is nothing else similar. The people who come here, come for the entire experience. Because Argentinean food is not famous, you don’t find it everywhere. The cuisine is pretty particular; the spices we use, the cuts [of beef] are different. So our servers must know everything about the food. People are going to ask you about the entire menu and the expect you to know what it is and where it comes from. I guess because we are the different ones in the area people love coming here.”

ALP: How do you manage your wine program?

DL: “We try to bring in a lot of different wines from Argentina, especially Malbec, not just from Argentina but South America in general, like Chile. We also try to help locals, like Brander. Fred Brander is from Argentina. He helps us with the wine list and does all of the tasting. So we try to get some local wines mixed in with South American wines.”

“We have some wines you can find in a few markets, but what we are trying to do is get rid of those and only have wines that are pretty hard to find. We have been working on a new wine list for a couple of months now. We are bringing in more wines, we are going to add more local wines. We are going to have more Spanish wines, Italian wines, Chilean wines, and Argentinean wines.”

Diego left Café Buenos Aires shortly after our visit to manage some restaurants in Los Angles. Long time member of the Café Buenos Aires family and former General Manger Martin Lertora stepped back into his old position. Martin, himself from Argentina, is a delight to work with and we are greatly looking forward to our day of filet mignon, empanadas, and flan!

Café Buenos Aires

1316 State St
Santa Barbara, California 93101


Cafe Beunos Aires Courtyard

Indoor seating

Diego and Wally

Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Martin says:

    Very grateful for the kind words. It is an honor and pleasure to be able to participate in the organization of one of the most important days of your life. Look forward to have you all in a few weeks.

    CBA GM

  2. Uncle Charlie says:

    Wayne and Damaris,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful time at your wedding and reception. Cyndi and I would like to return to Cafe Buenos Aires some time and sample more of their menu. The dinner was great and the time with all the blended families was very enjoyable as well. We look forward to getting to know Damaris better and spend some quality wine time together.

    Thanks again, Charlie and Cyndi

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