Top 5 bars and cafes in Buenos Aires
As one of Latin America's most sophisticated and cosmopolitan cities, there is so much choice when it comes to eating and drinking in Buenos Aires. Having lived in Buenos Aires and earned the right to call himself an honorary Porteño, Former JLA member of staff David lent us his expertise and tells us about his favourite spots in the city:
The epitome of an undiscovered gem – this cafe usually requires not only a trendy Porteño to introduce you to it, but one who is friendly with the artist/chef/owner of this quaint establishment. Cusic is situated in a dusty, quiet back street of the Palermo Hollywood residential district – one that a passerby could easily stroll down without realising what it hid. Behind one of its secret wooden doors is a courtyard and an open-plan, one-storey bungalow with indoor and outdoor seating for no more than 15 lucky diners. Once welcomed in, the brunch menu is fresh, healthy, delicious and always generously-portioned. (Address: El Salvador 6016)
Milion is a unique spot amongst Buenos Aires’ famed network of nocturnal hang-outs. Its very architecture is full of character – a neo-classical building almost secretly set in a quiet corner of the central neighbourhood of Recoleta. Semi-restored, a back-garden half-consumed by overgrown foliage and with little nooks and crannies on all three levels of the venue for standing, perching and sit-down-dining, the centre-piece of this stylish spot are the two bars which continue producing exquisite and wonderfully alcoholic cocktails, including an excellent Caipirinha, until 3am, every night of the week. (Address: Parana 1048)
3) El Ateneo:
Originally built as a theatre, cinema and concert hall in 1919, “El Ateneo Grand Splendid”, as it is rather accurately named, is something of a city treasure. Since 2000, it has become a refuge for Porteños seeking respite from their traffic-ridden, summer-baked central streets – in the form of an enormous bookstore cafe. What makes this spot particularly special is that, other than the rows of seats where glamorous Buenos Aires socialites once used to enjoy the evening spectacles, nothing about the venue has been changed. As one weaves between the bookshelves found across the stalls, circle and theatre boxes, one can also appreciate the unchanged ornate wood carvings, ceiling fresco, original theatre curtain and atmospheric auditorium lighting. For further indulgence and relaxation, take a seat on stage in what is now a lovely cafe and flick through your new purchases or chat to a friendly stranger. (Address: Avenida Santa Fe 1860)
4) Las Cabras:
There are endless places to have your essential Buenos Aires meat-eating experience, no doubt. Perhaps what makes visiting this particular restaurant especially unique is that it is not only home to some fabulous and well-priced ‘bife’, but that it is also a genuinely Porteño haunt. Even the half-hour wait is authentic. Such is this voguish but quite unpretentious establishment’s popularity that Porteños happily queue up on the street corner, standing amongst the outdoor diners, unbothered as to whether they tuck in at 9pm, 10pm or later. The gorgeous, Mediterranean-esque summer climate joint with the rather enormous and perfectly seared steaks often leaves the clientele enjoying their countless bottles of locally-sourced Malbec well into the morning’s early hours. (Address: Fitz Roy 1795)
There is good reason Buenos Aires is referred to as the “Paris of Latin America”. It is undoubtedly in large part due to the attempts by Buenos Aires developers at the turn of the 20th century to emulate the extraordinary and iconic architectural work of Georges-Eugène Haussmann, who had converted the French capital between 1850 and 1875 into the resplendent, boulevard-laden masterpiece that it is today. In addition to the two cities’ spacious lay-outs and exquisite facades, Porteños also share with Parisians a great love of their rich gastronomical heritage and colourful sartorial elegance. And, if you are tempted to shop, dress and dine like a local for the day, nowhere offers you a more vibrant, eclectic and esteemed array of boutiques through which to browse than the leafy streets surrounding Plaza Armenia.
And when you finally finish strolling through the markets and chatting with the cheerful shop owners, a particularly charming cafe in which to unwind is Quimbobó. Positioned overlooking the plaza’s main fountain, this chic coffee shop offers the weary shopper a quietly luxurious corner in which to recline on the plush sofas, cool off under the fans and quench thirsts with a delicious local version of iced lemonade – mixed with the traditional Argentine “mate” herbs for an extra revitalising kick. (Address: Costa Rica 4562)
Why not discover more of Buenos Aires' top dining spots on our culinary walking tour of the city?