Top 5 for Buenos Aires
- Wander the San Telmo antique market – for anything and everything!
- Enjoy a proper Argentine coffee – small, dark, and strong. Just like the folks that make it.
- Enjoy a steak washed down with some Malbec- the beef here really is impressive.
- Take in the luxe and modern area around Puerto Madero – nouveau Buenos Aires.
- Test out a bar-crawl in the famed Palermo area- it’s hard to stumble two feet without finding the next bar.
Buenos Aires is a city of competing sights and sounds. Everywhere you are bombarded with a sensory overload of crazy drivers, sirens, strange smells, pedestrians, music, and shops. It’s a big city, and there are many things to see. It’s also an extremely interesting mix of the old and the new – crumbling stone buildings from another era lie next to sleek modern office towers. Ancient waiters in humble cafes grudgingly provide you with a coffee in a chipped mug, and next door white-coated shiny-haired bartenders spend 15 minutes making a 120-peso cocktail and present it to you as if it’s made of gold. Strange, but alluring and you cannot help but be sucked in.
Old ship and office building along Puerto Madero
The “tourist” sites, I must say, were nothing that completely blew me away. Very nice, yes, but fantastic. . . not so much. I enjoyed the Recoleta cemetery, the San Telmo antique market, wandering along Puerto Madero, the Malba Museum, Avenida de 9 Julio (the widest street in the world), the Obelisk on the Avenue, the famous Café La Biela, and a few other places. But the real vibe of Buenos Aires is in the culture – the people, the music, the dancing, the socializing, and the food/drinks. Oh the food and drinks. . . the city is completely overrun with awesome restaurants, sneaky hidden bars, chic converted speakeasy’s, steak houses, all a bustle on any day of the week. You can go to the Oak Bar at the Grand Hyatt, and sit in a huge leather arm chair sipping a 60 euro Whiskey, or you can go to a hidden bar on a grimy industrial street, the entrance nothing but an unmarked black door, and drink beer from plastic cups. Buenos Aires has both and everything in between; a really fun combination.
Shopping at the San Telmo Market
Flowers in the Recoleta Cemetary
Modern Art at the Malba Museum
For food, it is of course advisable to try the famed Argentine beef. Bife de Chorizo or Lomo are the best-known cuts, and don’t worry, they will be MASSIVE. Traditionally, if you go to a Parrija (BBQ restaurant), the ginormous steak should of course be preceded by protein-rich appetizers such as chorizo, oven-baked cheese, various organ meats, and the like. You won’t find many sauces for your steak, nor will find many vegetables. Red wine and red meat is the way of life. And don’t even try to enter a restaurant before 9 pm – you will be shunned away by grumpy waiters still waking up from their afternoon nap. Also, keep an eye on valuable at all times. . . and a hand.
A final must-try: Dulce de Leche with anything! And believe me, they put it on anything and everything here. Don’t wait until Duty-Free to buy a jar either – it will cost you roughly 1 euro in a supermarket and roughly 10 euro at the Airport.
WHERE TO STAY:
As I was travelling on business, I had the opportunity to stay in a higher-end hotel, the Sheraton al Retiro. I can whole-heartedly recommend it for it’s wonderful service, beautiful rooms, and beautiful décor, however it’s not exactly a budget option.
La Cabrera Norte: As mentioned above, a higher end and traditional Parrijja restaurant with a good selection of steaks. In the fun and bustling Palermo neighbourhood, La Cabrera Norte is one block north of the original La Cabrera. Both were packed the night we went.
La Floreria Atlantico: Blink and you’ll miss it. Hidden beneath a flower shop, the awesome bar/restaurant is not an easy find. We awkwardly asked the flower shop owner if she happened to have a bar beneath her, and she pointed to a large heavy door leading down a staircase. Below, the space is transformed into a blue-lit, chic and stylish restaurant, with a long bar running the length of the space. The food is tapas-style, and the strip steak, served sliced rare with chimichurri sauce, was out of this world. The fried mushrooms, chorizo, zucchini and goat cheese salad, and baked cheese weren’t bad either. They also make wicked wine-based Sangria-esque cocktails by the liter jug, for sharing with friends (or not if you’re very selfish).
La Hormiga: A casual and cheap pizza place, this restaurant makes very very good thin-crust pizzas. The large size square version is great for sharing, and even with appetizers, pizza, wine, and beer, our bill for four people came to a whopping 35 euros.
Mineral: For a quick, healthy, and cheap lunch, Mineral is a French café with ready-made pastas, salads, sandwiches, and a crepe special each day. They also have a variety of scrumptious French pastries and freshly squeezed juices. Most main items come in under 60 pesos, or roughly 6 euros.
Dulce de Leche cookies – covered in chocolate 🙂
Sunset at Puerto Madero