Buenos Aires is a tantalizing affair with appeal for all palates. Though asado is the supermodel of the Argentine dinner menu, those with culinary curiosity have much more to enjoy than meat. The historic intermingling of cultures in Argentina created a melee of world flavours ranging from unapologetically Latin to European fare. The Italians brought the pizza, pasta and milanesa; empanadas are souvenirs from the Spanish, desserts are regularly sweetened with showers of dulce de leche, the origins of which remain a sweet mystery. Today, dining in the city of good airs is delectable work. Bookmark this list because it’s your definitive guide to Buenos Aires restaurants and food.
WHAT TO EAT
Asado (barbecue) is a national institution. Head to a parilla (grill) and order what might be the best steak of your life. If you’d rather not commit to one dish, order a parillada (mixed grill) which may include chinchulines (intestines), riñones (kidneys) and morcilla (blood sausage). Mouth-watering cuts you can order include ojo de bife (rib eye), bife de chorizo (sirloin steak or New York strip), bondiola (pork shoulder), bife ancho (prime rib), entraña (skirt steak), tira de asado (short ribs), lomo (tenderloin) or cuadril (rump steak).
To get your steak just as you like it, request yours vuelta vuelta (very bloody and blue having barely hit the pan), jugoso (medium rare), a punto (medium yet still pink and not so juicy), pasado de punto (medium to well done), cocido (well done), or bien cocido (charred to infinity).
Dulce de leche
Similar to caramel, dulce de leche is a delectable confection made by heating sweetened milk. You can slather it onto bread or bake with it. It’s available in every supermarket or you can head straight to the source – any branch of La Casa de Dulce de Leche – to buy specialty brands.
Chow down on alfajores, crumbly shortbread-type biscuits with a heavenly central layer of dulce de leche. These sweet cookies are a breakfast staple in Buenos Aires and a popular confection throughout Latin America.
Medialunas and facturas
For breakfast and tea time (la merienda), porteños (as Buenos Aires residents are called) enjoy medialunas and facturas, which translate to ‘half moons’ and ‘receipts’. Medialunas are petite croissant-esque pastries in the shape of a crescent moon and facturas are buttery and flaky. They’re consumed solo or with a variety of unique fillings. Pastry names in Argentina may tickle and confound you as the baker’s union christened many with anti-church and anti-establishment names after a strike for better working conditions. While in Buenos Aires, also try cañoncitos (little cannons) and bolas de fraile (friar’s balls) or dulce de leche-filled suspiras de monja (nun’s sighs).
The city’s favourite street food, choripán is a chorizo sausage sandwich (chorizo + pan or bread). It could very well be considered Argentina’s version of the hot dog and it’s usually drizzled with chimichurri sauce, a brilliant herb infusion. Also be on the lookout for morcipán, blood sausage sandwich, which tastes much better than it sounds.
Milanesa is akin to the schnitzel and it’s an Italian import. This is a breaded meat cutlet (beef, chicken or veal) covered with toppings ranging from cheese, ham and tomato sauce.
A strong Italian influence in Buenos Aires means pizza is big business. You can also find some uniquely Argentine pizzas here like fugazza, a cheese-free pizza with thick dough that doesn’t go easy on the onions. Those who simply can’t do without their queso can opt for a fugazetta instead, which is a fugazza topped with cheese or a fugazetta rellena (filled).
These are little pastries that are stuffed with meat, cheese or vegetables and they’re eaten all over Latin America. They make a very affordable, fuss-free snack. Salta in the north of Argentina claims to be the birthplace of the empanada. Salteñas are impossible juicy and can be found all around Buenos Aires.
WHAT TO DRINK
Most homes you visit will have telltale signs of mate consumption. Mate is a bitter, invigorating, caffeinated green tea made from the yerba mate plant and drunk from a shared metal gourd. It’s consumed anywhere at any time and it’s a staunchly Argentine custom.
Fernet con Cola
Fernet-Branca was once used to treat cholera. It originated in Italy in the mid 19th century but it’s Argentina’s preferred liqueur, accounting for 75% of the world’s global consumption. It’s dark brown, medicinal-tasting and drank with coke. The full ingredient list is secret, but it includes saffron, rhubarb and biblical myrrh.
WHERE TO EAT
Though there’s more to life than just asado in Buenos Aires, it’s a good place to start.
No list of Buenos Aires food eateries would be complete without mentioning the Palermo sub-barrio of Las Cañitas, a few restaurant-laden and leafy blocks. Here on one of its bustling corners is where you’ll find this classy steakhouse.
Campobravo actually has two branches in Palermo. Both are corner side restaurants with outdoor seating for people watching. The porteño’s vampire tendencies are well documented. Accordingly, there’s no shortage of places for late-night feasting and happy hour deals tend to last longer than you might be accustomed to. At Campobravo, happy hour goes on till 10PM. If you dare, why not try the chinchulines (intestines)?
Báez 292 and Honduras 5600
Meat so tender you can cut it with a spoon? The rumours are true about La Brigada in San Telmo. If you won’t take our word for it, watch ‘Todo Sobre el Asado’, the Netflix documentary dedicated to all things steak in Argentina. Herein, owner Hugo Echevarrieta demonstrates this extreme tenderness and fulfils all meat fantasies in one fell swoop.
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You’ll never believe that one of the highest-ranked Buenos Aires restaurants on Trip Advisor is actually a food stand inside San Telmo Market. The sirloin steak alone has its own little army of fans. Come here to source sustenance at affordable prices.
El Pobre Luis
When you’re after the cheesy deliciousness that is the pamplona (chicken stuffed with mozzarella, ham, smoked bacon, bell peppers and spices), there is only one place you should think of and that’s El Pobre Luis.
Siga La Vaca
Eat to your heart’s content at Siga La Vaca in Puerto Madero. For a set price you can enjoy all the meat in the world including one large beer or a bottle of wine. This is perfect if you’d like to try a bit of everything, don’t know what to order and wish to let your eyes do the talking. There are three branches of Siga La Vaca but only the Puerto Madero outpost has the all-you-can-eat (tenedor libre) option.
Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 1714
Lo de Charly
When in need of a 24-hour parilla, Lo de Charly is your best bet – their slogan is ‘where the fire never goes out’ and that’s no lie. The grill hasn’t been turned off since 1991. This steakhouse is the very definition of no-frills with plastic chairs splashed across a wide outdoor seating area.
Av. Alvarez Thomas 2101
Lo de Mary
You probably wouldn’t find yourself here unless tipped off by a SUBTE card-holding porteño. The unassuming atmosphere and intimate setting keep bringing the locals back.
The aforementioned penchant for late dining in Buenos Aires means that many restaurants offer discounts for those who dare to eat early. La Cabrera in Palermo is one such restaurant. At this celebrated Palermo parilla diners can get 30% for eating between 630PM and 8PM (last entry at 715PM).
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A restaurant with no menu? That’s right. Don Carlos is a family affair in La Boca perilously close to La Bombonera stadium. Owner Carlitos sizes you up and serves whatever he deems is best. It’s a laidback, traditional bodegón (Argentine Cantina). The modest setting is in stark contrast to its celebrity clientele, which includes healthy living guru Gwyneth Paltrow and Francis Ford Coppola who lists this as his favourite Buenos Aires eatery.
San Telmo steakhouse Desnivel has built quite a reputation for itself internationally. Depending on where the wind blows, your steak may be magnificent or mediocre. Either way, service is impeccable. Revel in the wafting asado fumes and the accents of the locals and travellers who fill the tables.
AFFORDABLE AND FAST
Monday Como y Sigo
Pop into this bright café restaurant for a quick meal and to stare at Congreso Nacional, the home of Argentine national legislature. This neoclassical building took almost 50 years to complete and it was modelled on the Capitol building. Monday Como y Sigo is right opposite Congreso and Plaza del Congreso, a wedge of grass with fountains, benches and statues. A few metres down in Plaza Mariano Moreno, Rodin’s ‘The Thinker” statue is a scenic photo op too.
Av. Callao 3
When you enter NOLA the first thing you see is the kitchen to the left where chefs are preparing colossal fusion dishes like fried chicken with kimchi. NOLA does great chicken, whether it’s fried pieces or a mouth-watering burger you’re after. This Louisiana style gastro pub is an unassuming and friendly place where the good times (and craft beer) flow. There’s no table service so you order and pay at the bar and wait for your name to be called. You can pay by card too (even foreign ones).
For a fast-food chain, Be Frika has a surprisingly good ojo de bife (rib eye). Tuck into breaded shrimp, mozzarella sticks, juicy burgers, battered langoustines and much more at both branches in Recoleta.
Larrea 1535 and Junín 1350
Club Social General Alvear
Not to be confused with Alvear Palace, Club Social General Alvear is a laidback, no-frills bodegón in Palermo. There’s little in the way of decoration, prices are attractive and portions are generous. Forget about the diet that day.
Silvio L. Ruggieri 2736
The gargantuan portions set La Conga apart from most places you’ll have the pleasure of dining at. Catering to a largely Peruvian crowd, La Conga is a pollería (chicken restaurant) in the Once neighbourhood. There are so many things they do well besides chicken however – mountains of ceviche, mountains of rice, and mountains of seafood dishes to name a few. Eat here before heading to Ciudad Cultural Konex for La Bomba de Tiempo, the undisputed owner of Monday evenings in Buenos Aires, but don’t fill up too much so you can still dance.
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Diego Maradona is a regular at this bodegón; let’s start there. El Obrero (the working man) is a convenient dining spot if you’re going to La Boca for a game at La Bombonera stadium or to Caminito, Buenos Aires’ outdoor museum walkway and primary colour dream. Just make sure you don’t wear a River football shirt.
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Don Ignacio in Almagro is the self-titled ‘king of milanesas’ (el rey de las milanesas). Arrive hungry; the milanesa will definitely extend beyond the border of your plate.
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At Dogg, choripán gets a gourmet makeover. Heavenly beef sausages can be bathed with a dozen different toppings including sweet chilli, guacamole, cream cheese, sauerkraut or crispy bacon. There are Aberdeen Angus burgers too.
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With a name like La Choripanería, you can expect the choripán here to score top marks. It’s also within the Mercado de San Telmo and it’s a draw for visitors and locals alike. Try the ‘Blue’ lamb sausage sandwich with spinach and blue cheese. There are also craft mixed drinks, international beers and even a mini Maradona shrine.
Parilla lo de Freddy/ Nuestra Parilla
Lo de Freddy is less restaurant, more hole in the wall grill with bar stools. Select your preferred cut from the grill right in front of you and loiter around the bar or outside to eat. It’s in Mercado de San Telmo and a well-known, low-key hangout spot. It also goes by two names: Nuestra Parilla and Lo De Freddy. The grill master Freddy seems to make up the opening hours as he goes along but when you catch him, you won’t be sorry. Anytime after 11AM is a relatively reliable estimate.
Chori in Palermo is casual, hip and lively with bright yellow walls. Many restaurants in Buenos Aires close for siesta (between 3PM and 8PM) but Chori is thankfully not one of them. Come here for the perfect meal on the move or stay put and enjoy a customised gin and tonic. Vegetarians can get an aubergine, goat’s cheese and spinach sandwich.
Thames 1653 and Dorrego 1681
Seek out El Hornero in a corner of Mercado de San Telmo for some of the best empanadas this side of Salta. They’re freshly baked and adequately stuffed, the kind of empanadas that locals will tell you to eat with ‘gambas abiertas’ or with your legs open to sidestep drips. Napkins at the ready.
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Not all beef empanadas are created equal. There are empanadas with ‘carne picada’ (ground beef) and ‘empanadas de carne cortada a cuchillo’ (empanadas of meat cut with a knife). For the latter, head to Keller Serrano in Palermo’s Plaza Serrano (now officially called Plazoleta Julio Cortázar). If you heed one piece of advice from this article, it’s that you should march there and order the entraña empanadas. There are real chunks of juicy entrails and a sauce that explodes as you pierce through the outer layer. Don’t say you weren’t told.
Pizza worshipers will tell you to go to La Mezzetta where there are only four cheese-oozing pizza varieties: marvellous muzzarella, phenomenal fugazzetta, delicious napolitana and anchovies (anchoas). This place has been standing since 1939 and it’s a standing-only venue. According to an urban legend around these parts, consuming your pizza standing up somehow makes it taste better.
Av. Álvarez Thomas 1321
Owing to its Italian heritage, one may expect to find some of the most tantalising (and surprising) pizza in the world. Get a slice of pizza de molde (pizza in the pan), a thick, spongy pizza bubbling with piping hot cheese, at El Cuartito. It’s been sizzling since 1934 and Diego Maradona allegedly once ate 14 portions of pizza there in one sitting here.
Buenos Aires has an unofficial ‘Pizza Street’. Avenida Corrientes is the location of Muza5k, an annual ‘marathon’ that sees 400 ‘runners’ descend onto each pizzeria for one slice. Güerrin is one such stop and it’s known for its mozzarella pizzas and fugazza, a caramelized onion-rich Argentine take on focaccia. It’s cash only at this BA institution.
Kentucky has seemingly infiltrated every Buenos Aires street corner. With more than 25 branches all over the city, it shouldn’t be hard to track one down for pizza al corte (by the slice). These are waiter-less venues with fast service and several branches are open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday to cater to the party crowd. Do yourself a favour and have a fugazetta rellena (filled).
Why is a pizza joint in Argentina named after the state of Kentucky you ask? A group of friends got lucky betting on the horses at the Hipódromo de Palermo racetrack and decided to open up a pizzeria with their winnings. They named it after the Kentucky Derby to pay homage that fortunate gamble.
FOR HIGH-END DINING
Don Julio made it onto the list of the 50 best restaurants in Latin America and it’s Buenos Aires’ most famous upscale steakhouse. What hits your table here are plates of top grass-fed Aberdeen Angus and Hereford steers that were raised in the nearby humid pampas (grassland). A displayed quote reminds diners that ‘life is too short to drink bad wine’ so expect an extensive wine selection and don’t forget to sign your empty bottle to join their customer wall of fame.
El Mercado at Faena
Faena is a Leading Hotel of the World. This Phillipe Starck-designed powerhouse hotel draws the fashionable crowd to Puerto Madero. Enjoy classic Argentinian cuisine at El Mercado, one of several restaurants within the hotel (you better like the colour red). The Faena pool is one of the most iconic in the city with its burgundy lounge chairs and a crown fountain in the water. There are light bites available at the pool bar too.
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L’Orangerie at Alvear Palace
Elaborate, elegant and enjoyable. Indulge in afternoon tea or a lunch buffet under the crystal chandeliers of L’Orangerie at the Alvear Palace Hotel. You can expect world-class service from white-gloved waiters at this glamorous 5-star hotel, which has simply won too many awards to count.
Av. Alvear 1891
Put your glad rags on to rub shoulders with the city’s cheto (posh) crowd and dine well at Casa Cavia, a beautifully restored Belle Époque house in the well-heeled enclave of Palermo. It is, in essence, an immersive experience celebrating the excellence of Argentina. Well-respected talents from the worlds of architecture, art, literature and gastronomy were summoned by Casa Cavia’s creative director to put together this restaurant-cum-book store-cum-publishing house-cum-flower shop-cum garden hybrid. There’s valet parking too, of course.
If you’ve ever wanted to be able to say you’ve had raw llama or alligator gyoza, pay El Baqueano a visit. This fine-dining institution specialises in Argentine native cuisine, reviving under appreciated ingredients, alternative meats, and skilfully giving traditional staples a contemporary twist – all with produce sourced from local artisans. Reservations are advised (restoelbaqueano.com).
Chila has also graced the list of 50 best restaurants in Latin America. To call the offerings here innovative would be an understatement. A fixation with detail has led to an outstanding tasting menu with dishes you want to study and then devour, just as pretty as they are palatable. There’s eccentric garnishing and presentation too; a hibiscus box, well-manicured fish bones and tableware fashioned from eggshells. The view of the water in Puerto Madero isn’t too shabby either.
Av. Alicia Moreau de Justo 1160
VEGAN AND VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS
Herbivores needn’t go hungry in this carnivorous capital.
Avenida Caseros is a lovely culinary corner where the neighbourhoods of San Telmo and Barracas meet. It’s here you’ll find Hierbabuena which is vegan-friendly and serves kombucha alongside creatively fashioned organic produce. Hierbabuena is flexible vegetarian; coeliacs and vegans are well catered for but there are also rogue chicken and salmon dishes.
Av. Caseros 454
Sacro is a high-end vegan restaurant that leaves herbivores as well as carnivores gobsmacked by its atypical, boundary-pushing dishes like the activated charcoal and mushroom empanada.
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While not an all-out vegetarian restaurant, Sarkis serves hearty Middle Eastern food in Villa Crespo. This was one of Buenos Aires’ first ethnic restaurants when it opened in 1982. Today it’s synonymous with Armenian food in the city. Try the classics: hummus, tabbouleh and baba ganoush.
A restaurant almost exclusively dedicated to mushrooms is unique to say the least. At Donnet in Chacarita, everything is prepared without animal products or derivatives. Vegan owner Manuela Donnet was tired of eating roasted aubergine wherever she went and thus set out to create a meat-free restaurant that would appeal to vegans and carnivores alike. If you’re a mushrooms lover chances are you’ll fall in love with something here.
Av. Jorge Newbery 4081
Bio adopts a fully green ethos – even the building is painted green. It’s the first certified organic restaurant in Argentina. A pink Buddha greets you as you enter and the aesthetic feels like eating at your healthy aunt’s house. Proving that veganism and alcohol don’t have to be mutually exclusive, there’s a selection of organic wines too.
Buenos Aires Verde
Raw, organic, meat-free plates take centre stage at Buenos Aires Verde which has branches in Palermo and Belgrano. Pore over the menu which is also available in English, and is partitioned by small tapas-like plates, raw dishes and cooked meals. The raw tacos are a sure winner.
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Green Eat focuses on healthy fast food. Think super cleans salads, gluten-free sushi and carrot-filled chicken sticks. Everything is prepared fresh each day with organic ingredients received from their carefully selected suppliers. There are branches all over the city including Abasto Mall, Galerías Pacifico Mall, Avenida Santa Fe and Florida. Vegetarian dishes include the Playero Slim sandwich with Gruyere and avocado, the veggie curry, the minty quinoa and the Andean burger, a quinoa patty served with roasted mushrooms, potato and pumpkin puree.
FOR WINE LOVERS
Uco sits within the Fierro Boutique Hotel in Palermo Hollywood and the 300-strong wine list was curated by the head of the Argentinian Sommeliers Association. All food is prepared in-house; they even cure their own bacon and smoke Patagonian trout right on the premises. There’s indoor and outdoor seating in their garden but spaces are limited so reservations are advised.
An unusual, DIY experience that you’ll certainly be telling your friends about. VICO was the first wine bar in Argentina to introduce wine dispensing machines. All budgets and tastes are catered for and everyone gets their own pass where their selections are recorded.
Honduras 5799 and Gurruchaga 1149
Moreno 372, Arévalo 2032 and Rep. Árabe Siria 303
Pair your wine with a tango show that covers the history of the dance. At El Querandí in San Telmo, the wine list is extensive and the historic building it’s set in makes the evening a tad more magical. Reservations are highly encouraged.
Stepping into La Malbequería feels like an occasion in itself with a leafy canopy over a long table that’s ready to seat you and the company you keep for the dinner of your life. It gets even better. A garden tucked away further back. A day spent sipping Malbec in an enchanting garden wine bar in Argentina is a day well spent.
Stylish, coveted and owned by Germán Mariátegui, one of Argentina’s most famous TV chefs, Tegui has a wine selection to impress even the staunchest oenophile. The tasting menu costs a pretty penny.
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Pain et Vin
Wine bar meets bakery at Pain et Vin. It’s the collaborative effort of an Argentine Sommelier and Israeli chef couple duo. Sample their cured meats, wines by the glass, or a wine flight with three different tasting glasses.
FOR CRAFT BEER LOVERS
Argentina’s industrial brews leave a lot to be desired. Luckily for hopheads, a craft beer explosion means artisan beer haunts can now be found on most throbbing streets. For a taste of lively Plaza Serrano, visit Valk Taproom for your beer fix. ¡Salud!
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Temple invites you to ‘join the craft revolution’. As such, they’ve taken over Buenos Aires with multiple branches, over multiple floors, with multiple delicious brews. You’ll recognize their snazzy murals and overflowing barflies.
Get up to 20 different beers on tap from various Argentinian microbreweries at this popular hipster haunt with branches in Palermo and Colegiales. Three words: spoilt for choice.
You’ll find Antares dotted all over Buenos Aires – far from its humble beginnings in a garage back in the 90s. Their motto is ‘con cerveza no hay tristeza‘ (with beer there is no sadness). Go on and get hoppy with it.
Beer is a way of life at BierLife. That’s why they put it in all their food too. This old San Telmo house has a patio and countless breakaway areas to enjoy their broad brew collection. Perhaps try a pumpkin pinta on for size.
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Cervecería Chapultepec’s concept is that everything is the same rock bottom price – be it a burger, cocktail, burrito, taco or michelada. The Mexican chain has two branches in Palermo with string lights, funky décor, bottled beers and fantastic nibbles.
Honduras 5750 and Armenia 1908
La Birrería will cater to all your beer needs six days a week at any of their rocking brewpubs. You’ll find them in Palermo (Hollywood and Viejo), Puerto Madero, Las Cañitas, Barrio Chino, San Telmo, and a stone’s throw from the Obelisk on Avenida Corrientes.
If you find yourself in Colegiales on a Friday night, absolutely swing by Strange Brewing. Trendy locals meet and mingle at this brewpub with a rocking DJ on weekends.
ROOFTOP BARS AND RESTAURANTS
Salón 1923 at Palacio Barolo
One of the most outstanding buildings in Buenos Aires, and perhaps all of Latin America, Palacio Barolo was designed by Mario Palanti who crammed it with overt references to Dante Alighieri’s poem The Divine Comedy. Salón 1923 is the rooftop lounge on the 16th floor of Palacio Barolo. There’s an indoor and outdoor area but naturally, the latter takes the cake. It’s without question one of the most spectacular rooftops in BA if only for the Old World feeling alone. There’s a minimum consumption fee, payable in the lobby downstairs before your heavenly ascension.
Av. de Mayo 1370
Sip in style to a slick live music backdrop at Sky Bar on the 13th floor of Hotel Pulitzer. The rooftop is only open in the summer months and it’s mighty popular with the after-work crowd and discerning porteños. Expect anything from smooth house music to ukulele sets.
Dome Rooftop Bar
Why not pair your sightseeing around Congreso Nacional and Avenida de Mayo with a visit to Dome Rooftop Bar on the sixth floor of the Tango de Mayo boutique hotel?
Av. de Mayo 1396
Touch the sky at Trade Sky Bar where you can enjoy Gatsby-esque decor and 360 views of Puerto Madero, the Obelisk and downtown Buenos Aires. It’s set over two floors in the Comega building in Microcentro and it’s very sleek indeed.
Av. Corrientes 222
FOR A TASTE OF EUROPE
Want an unexpected dining experience in Buenos Aires? Eat Dutch bitterballen at Van Koning on the ever-lively Báez Street within Las Cañitas. For added Dutchness, the building is painted orange.
‘Lekker’ is one of those words non-Dutch speakers love to say when they meet people from The Netherlands. It’s the most versatile word in the language and is used to denote absolutely anything positive: lekker weer (great weather), lekker fris (nice and fresh), lekker jongen (hot guy) and lekker eten (delicious food). Lekker Smokehouse is a Dutch restaurant where you can munch on a crunchy kroket or a pile of shiny ribs. It’s the best of both worlds, and that’s just lekker.
As previously mentioned, Avenida Caseros is lined with lots of lovely restaurants and Italian restaurant Bar Napoles is the quirkiest. Venture all the way to the back to uncover what’s essentially a museum of knick-knacks and random oddities like classic cars, old globes and stone figures. The pizzas are also exceptional.
Av. Caseros 449
Lo del Francés
For a bit of France in Buenos Aires, mange at Lo del Francés, a café bistro in San Telmo. It’s set over two floors with compulsory outside seating for the warmer months, and an upstairs area for added privacy. This place has a certain je ne sais quoi and a distinctly French accent. Staff are French-speaking and there are hearty, decorative meals from different regions in France. Presentation certainly isn’t an afterthought either. When you’ve had your fill of steak, come here for something overflowing with cheese.
Av. San Juan 500
Buenos Aires is often called the ‘Paris of the South’. Partake in Parisian café culture right here in the city at Oui Oui. Yes, you may have to wait for a table (inside or outside) but breakfast, brunch or dinner on a leafy, cobbled Palermo street will always hit the spot.
Valhalla Bar Vikingo
Break bread with Vikings at this themed bar in San Telmo. Expect mighty portions fit for a warrior and compulsory Viking paraphernalia like swords, armour and hammers. Skal!
For some, former president Juan Domingo Perón and his wife, actress-turned-First Lady María Eva Duarte (aka Evita) are a religion. Others could do without the famous political couple and Peronismo in general. For the loving fans, there’s Perón Perón, a bar-restaurant with tender tributes and tender fall-off-the-bone steaks. A truly unique feat, Perón Perón has its own brand of Peronist branded beer. Like the icon herself, the ‘Evita’ beer is blonde. Those who prefer a stronger brew may order the ‘Montonero’ pale ale, named after the ‘70s guerrilla group.
Ángel Justiniano Carranza 2225
El Santa Evita
Argentina’s love affair with Evita continues at El Santa Evita, where traditional comfort food dishes are spruced up and modernized. Feast on salteña-style empanadas, milanesa, locro (a thick Andean squash stew) and chipaguazú (corn grain cake) under the watchful eye of Evita’s large portrait.
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QUAINT CAFES & COFFEE SHOPS
Padre Coffee and Beer
Hotfoot it to Padre Coffee and Beer where your cafécito is multi-coloured and actual Nutella jars are being used to serve their Nuteccino 360 drink. Why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?
Jorge Luis Borges 2008
Not many bakeries are Insta-famous but this one sure is. Salvaje’s goal is to make bread sexy again (you’ll find them with the hashtag #ourcoffeeishotterthanyours). There’s no door at this garage-turned-hotspot on the border of Palermo and Colegiales. Grab one of the few outdoor tables and order the bread sample or a scrumptious cinnamon roll.
If you find yourself in San Telmo with time to while away in a splendid, Buenos Aires icon, make your way to Café Rivas. Purchase a book in English from the opposite book shop and park yourself here.
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Havanna is known for its chocolate alfajores. It’s an old favourite with branches practically everywhere. The most iconic outpost is at El Caminito, which acts as the backdrop for many a tangoing couple.
You can’t go wrong with a name like that. Any Tea Connection branch is simply a delightful place to situate yourself. Their mission is to change your ideas about tea and you’ll find creative tea infusions on both the food and drinks menus – try a frozen tea or the matcha cheesecake.
Museum visits can be thirsty work. Good thing there’s a Ninina branch at MALBA and two others in Palermo and Villa Urquiza. They select, roast and prepare high-end coffees and serve mouth-watering cakes. You’ll want to Instagram the heck out of everything.
MALBA, Holmberg 2464 and Gorriti 4738
La Panera Rosa
Pink is the name of the game at La Panera Rosa (The Pink Bread Basket), where everything is pink besides the food. This chain comes all the way from Madrid but the menu has been suitably augmented for local tastes. Sip mate from a pink gourd or eat a milanesa off a pink plate, of course.
If you can’t quite pick between grabbing coffee or wine, why not do both? Serendipity Coffee and Wine Bar in Palermo Hollywood is a hybrid match made in heaven. There are also cute and shareable plates making this ideal for date night (or day).
Serious coffee lovers should step into this laboratory which roasts and produces its own coffee. Many flock to LAB, a hipster-filled hangout in Palermo Hollywood, for the brews but stay for the good vibes and great plates.
If your granny designed a coffee shop, this would be it. Bartola in Palermo is proudly kitsch with bunting, London street signs, pastel furniture, a menu adorned with spacemen, flowers and even gold beckoning cats.
Self-taught baker Francisco Seubert set out to make sourdough bread that was different from anything he’d tasted before. The bestseller here is the Campo Fuerza bread, which has a creamy, caramelized crust. Both branches are mighty popular so go early before everything’s gone.
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If you didn’t peer further back into this Palermo book store, you wouldn’t know it has a bright inner courtyard restaurant and cosy ‘living room’ with reading chairs, cushions and funky wall art. Some English books are available within the shop.
CAFES STEEPED IN HISTORY
Be prepared to wait in line for your chance to sip or dine at the oldest established café in Buenos – even Albert Einstein came here. Stepping into Café Tortoni is like being in the 20s; there’s an air of timelessness and a lot of respect is paid to the architecture of yesteryear. It remains stubbornly cemented in a bygone era and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Av. de Mayo 825
Brothel turned iconic hangout, Bar Federal in San Telmo serves up unique beers and a distinctly charming atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you might nab one of the outdoor seats. Bar Federal is one of Los Notables, a group of historic bars and cafes that merge art, culture, literature and food. These include Celta Bar, Bar Dorrego, La Poesía, Bar de Cao and Café Mangot, which all opened their doors between 1864 and 1982.
Carlos Calvo 599
La Poesía (The Poetry) just draws you in. This charming San Telmo café restaurant was the meeting place of the city’s artists, intellectuals, musicians and poets granting it an air of romance. Tango lyricist Horacio Ferrer wrote a famous poem called ‘Lulu’ for his wife who he met right there. One of the tables has a plaque commemorating their encounter.
When visiting Caminito in La Boca, pay a visit to La Perla, a notable cafe that remains relatively unchanged after 8 decades. Its external signage is laden with fileteado, a decorative style of flowery writing that’s unique to Buenos Aires and its tango culture. On the inside, there are gramophones, antique typewriters and tango memorabilia. Dining here is the best kind of time warp.
Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza 1899
Bar Dorrego says San Telmo on a Sunday like no other. It’s on the corner of Humberto Primero and Defensa in Plaza Dorrego, and is thus, a prime spot for people-watching during the Fería de San Telmo (San Telmo Antiques Fair). Nabbing one of the few outdoor seats here is like winning the lottery. On the inside, there are plenty of photo ops too. Bar Dorrego is the only known meeting place of Argentine writers Jorge Luis Borges and Ernesto Sábato. The hanging photos of legendary visitors and mosaic checkerboard tiles evoke a classic tango-esque feeling of faded opulence, like much of this fair city.
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Rosie Bell is an international travel writer, author of the book “Escape To Self”, and content editor for Club Elsewhere. Follow her on Instagram @TheBeachBell.