Where to play and eat in Buenos Aires
- Florida Street and Lavalle Street (from 500 up to 1000) are for pedestrians only, are the main tourist’s shops in MicroCentro. At the intersection of these two pedestrian streets, there is often some sort of interesting street performance going on, especially at night.
- The Palermo Viejo in Palermo has many shops that will appeal to young or artsy people (think New York’s SoHo). Nearby is Murillo Street, a block full of leather houses.
Markets and Fairs
There are many artisans’ fairs, most notably the weekend Recoleta fair located in the Francia park, near Recoleta cemetery (which is an excellent place for photography) and on Sundays the San Telmo market. In every fair you will find some excellent hand made products, but beware, also there are industrialized products disguised as “hand made”.
Saturdays and Sundays are great days for the outdoor markets, especially in the summer. The Feria Recoleta (in Plaza Francia) is an assortment of all sorts of artesania, from jewelry to shawls; and Plaza Serrano in Palermo viejo comes alive in the afternoon with a feria of artesania in the plaza and freelance designer clothes in the bars surrounding the plaza. Another nearby Plaza (in Palermo viejo) between Malabia, Armenia, Costa Rica and Nicaragua streets has stalls with items for sale. Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo offers tango and antiquities. Defensa street on Sunday from Chile to San Juan comes alive performers and vendors. The crowds are thick, watch your pockets.
In the Corrientes Ave. from the Obelisco (big obelisk landed in the intersection with 9 de Julio avenue) up to Callao Ave., you will find a lot of cheap bookstores where you can find many books mostly in Spanish. “El Ateneo,” a massive bookstore with a reasonable offering of books in English, is at Santa Fe 1860.
The Último Taller at Jorge L. Borges 1975 (between Soler and Nicaragua streets) sells funky candles and street address plates and markers; there are charming cats, and photos can be etched onto these plates as well. The shop is open Monday to Saturday 10am-9pm; and its telephone number is 4831-4135. There are other stores that sell nice candles in this area as well.
In Buenos Aires, and in the rest of the country, beef is king, but it’s not your only option in this cosmopolitan city. Italian food is pervasive but in neighborhoods like Palermo pizza joints are seeing heavy competition from sushi, fusion, and even vegetarian bistros. Just about everything can be delivered - including fantastic, gourmet helado (ice cream).
If you’re not vegetarian, you will want to try asado (beef/steak barbecue) at a parrilla, restaurants specializing in roasted. There are relatively expensive parrillas, and more simple ones. The bife de lomo (tenderloin) is unbelievably tender in comparison to US beef and is more reminiscent of European cuts.
The Italian and Spanish food are almost native here, as the cultural heritage heralds in great part from these two countries. Other popular meals are pizzas and empanadas (small pastries stuffed with combinations of cheese and meats). They are quite a popular home delivery or takeaway/takeout option.
The pizza is excellent in Buenos Aires, due to the Italian immigrant heritage. Pizza comes al molde (cooked in a pan, usually medium to thick crust), a la piedra (baked in a stone oven, usually thin to medium crust), and a la parilla (cooked on a parilla grill, very thin, crispy crust).
One incredible and typical Argentinian kind of “cookie”, is the alfajor, which consists of two round sweet biscuits joined together with a sweet jam, generally dulce de leche (milk jam, akin to caramel), covered with chocolate, merengue or something similarly sweet.
There are a lot of al paso (walk through) places to eat; you eat standing up or in high chairs at the bar. Meals vary from hot-dogs (panchos), beef sausages (chorizos, or its sandwich version choripán), pizzas, milanesas (breaded fried cutlets), etc. Don’t forget to indulge in the perennially popular mashed squash - it is delicious and often comes with rice and makes a full meal in itself. It is perfect for vegetarians and vegans to fill up on.
You can go to a huge variety of small restaurants, with cheap and generous servings, most notably the ones owned by Spanish and Italian immigrants. There are also many places which offer foreign meals, mostly Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Spanish, and Italian.
Siga la Vaca - several locations throughout the city, notably in Puerto Madero and Costanera, offers buffet-style asado fresh off the grill and includes a well-stocked salad bar. Including wine, approximately $10 per person.
- Las Cholas, Phone: 4899-0094. Great parrilla specializing in Northern Argentine found in Las Cañitas. The rooftop seating upstairs is a great environment. Don’t expect to see many tourists here, just a lot of Porteños out for a three hour weekend meal. Try the Humita (made with mashed corn, cheese and spices) and Tamales (a sort of flour with minced beef) or anything off of the parrilla is great. Do not skip dessert. Price: $10.
- Guerrin (pizza), Phone: 4371-8141. Go for a great pizza in a really noisy environment Price: 20$.
- El Farol, Phone: 4866-3233. “Typical argentinian food”: spanish + italian + meat. Very high quality. Really? Price: 30$.
- La Biela. very nice cafe
- Café Tortoni. Famous in its own right; it is an old, classic and luxurious cafe. There is also a pool hall; buy a token (ficha) from a waiter for 2 pesos (0.5 euros). Coffee is 4 pesos (1 euro). They also have different tango shows for 60-70 pesos, depending on the show. You must book in advance.
The most expensive and luxurious restaurants are found in the Puerto Madero zone, near downtown, heading to the River Plate. But the nicer places in terms of decoration, food and personality are in Buenos_Aires/Palermo. Another place to visit is The Grill at the Marriott Plaza Hotel, acknowledged as a five star restaurant, offers the finest international cuisine and is considered among the best restaurants in Buenos Aires.
The main areas to go out are: Puerto Madero, close to the Casa Rosada, renovated harbour full of restaurants, some hotels and nice for a walk. Safe during the day and night. Recoleta area close to the famous cemetery, restaurants, bars, cinema complex, used to be trendy, now mainly for tourists. Palermo SoHo and Palermo Hollywood, full of trendy stores, restaurants, and bars; young and trendy, nice for a walk, eating and drinking. Palermo Las Cañitas is another nice area close to the Polo stadium.
Buenos Aires has a popular cafe culture.
- Cafe Tortoni Avenida de Mayo 829 between Piedras and Tacuari. Opened in 1858. The hot chocolate is incredible.
- Confiteria Richmond Florida 468 between Lavalle and Corrientes. Mentioned in Graham Greene’ The Honorary Consul. Opened in 1913. It has been modified.
- La Biela Quintana 596 nand RM Ortiz. Luxurious. You can sit outside underneath a huge ancient rubber tree for a little bit extra.
- Confiteria Ideal is ancient and less modified. It is located at Suipacha 380.
- The unidentified cafe on the corner of Uriarte and Honduras in Palermo viejo (towards Santa Fe) has an incredible European ambiance with good food and lots of newspapers and magazines to read. Also try the community centre across the street named “Club Eros” that serves great lunches and dinners for ridiculously low prices (expect to pay 6 pesos for a menu including steak, salad, glass of wine).
- “Las Violetas” is also a lovely cafe, a bit off the beaten (tourist) path but you can take the oldest subway line in the city, Linea A, to get there. Well worth the trip. Av. Rivadavia 3899 (Esquina Medrano)
- The Plaza Bar: Chosen by Forbes Magazine as one of the top 9 hotel bars in the world, the Plaza Bar is considered amongst the best bars in Buenos Aires. Opened in 1909. Florida 1005
You may want to try lágrima, a “tear” of coffee on a cup of milk.
Try mate: You can buy a mate in any Coto or Carrefour (these are the names for two of the many supermarket chains available, like K-Mart or Wal-Mart; anyway, this last one you can find in Buenos Aires as well) for 3-5 pesos (0.75 to 1.25 euros) and then a metal or bamboo “straw” (called a “bombilla”) for around the same. Don’t forget the yerba, the actual “tea” you drink; an excellent brand is Nobleza Gaucha, “Taragui”, or “Rosamonte”. Anyway, ask a local to help you in preparing and drinking the mate, since it’s not as easy as it seems. Many visitors take mates as a gift when they go away and they become big fans (locals tend to drink it bitter (amargo), but foreigners generally like it sweet (dulce)). Outside the country, you can find yerba in Argentine stores in big cities like New York, Madrid, London, Paris, Miami, Tel-Aviv, and others.
Clubs & nightlife
For many, Buenos Aires has the best nightlife in the world, a great variety of bars, clubs and discos, that are opened until late hours (6am or 7am).
The Palermo Barrios (SoHo, Hollywood, Las Canita or simply “PalVo”) have many hip restaurants that turn into bars as it gets later.
Pacha one of the greatest clubs in the world has a franchise in Buenos Aires
- The Buenos Aires Pub Crawl - Take your trip to Buenos Aires to the next level and party with the B.A. pub crawl crew. Tel +54 (11) 5115-9053.
Buenos Aires has a tradition of rock concerts going on all the time. Bon Jovi, Jon Bon Jovi and Rolling Stones are some of the names who already have been there.