Buenos Aires, Argentina
SAY BUENOS DIAS TO THIS SUNNY SOUTH AMERICAN CITY
The capital of Argentina has something for everyone: Italian food, French architecture, a rich cultural heritage, and a vibrant nightlife. And the towering buildings of this sprawling metropolis are balanced by luscious parks teeming with porteños ( Buenos Aires locals) enjoying the sun that shines nearly every day of the year.
Buenos Aires was one of the main destinations for Italian immigrants in the early 20th century, and a longstanding coffee shop tradition is just one of their cultural contributions. Some of the quaintest establishments in town, such as Cafe Rivas (Estados Unidos 302, San Telmo) and Chez Paul (Gorriti 4865, Palermo), are tucked away along quiet streets. For quality over ambiance, try Coffee Town (Bolívar 976, San Telmo); this unassuming stall at the San Telmo indoor market serves the best java in town.
Vegetarians beware: Argentina is the king of beef so you might be stuck with pizza, pasta, and gelato—not a bad trade! Head to classic porteño hangouts for thick-crust pizza oozing with cheese: El Cuartito (Talcahuano 937, Retiro) and Güerrin (Av. Corrientes 1368, City Center) have topped the “Best Pizza in Town” charts for at least half a century. To get your creamy Italian-style gelato fix, try Tufic (Guatemala 4597, Palermo) for flavors ranging from vanilla to mango, grapefruit, and maracuja (passion fruit). But if you dream of thick, juicy steaks, visit Parrilla del Plata (Chile 594, San Telmo): if it was good enough for First Lady Michelle Obama during the President’s recent state visit, it is good enough for you. For cheap eats, do like the locals and head to Costanera Sur, a boardwalk in Puerto Madero, for a stroll alongside the ecological reserve and a juicy-yet-budget-friendly bondiola (steak sandwich) or choripan (sausage sandwich) from one of the many stalls.
Craft cocktails have finally arrived on the Buenos Aires scene, steering locals away from their much-loved Fernet (Italian herbal liqueur). Frank’s Bar (Arévalo 1443, Palermo) is at the top of the it-list; book beforehand via the speakeasy’s Facebook page to get the secret code. Narrow lounge Floreria Atlantico (Arroyo 872, Retiro) is popular with the after-work crowd; try a cocktail made with Apostoles Gin, a yerba-mate-and-grapefruit-infused spirit of their own creation. Basa (Basavilbaso 1328, Retiro) is literally and figuratively underground. The basement bar and restaurant offers cocktails and sophisticated fare in its modern space, which gets dark and intimate at night.
Buenos Aires gives New York a run for its money as the city that never sleeps. There’s no shortage of nightclubs and venues, but be aware that Argentines usually don’t go clubbing until 2 a.m. at the earliest, which means you should be ready to dance till dawn. For live indie music, check out the lineup at Club Cultural Matienzo (Pringles 1249, Palermo). And don’t miss out on La Bomba del Tiempo—the percussion party that rages over at Centro Cultural Konex (Sarmiento 3131, Abasto) every Monday night.
SHOPPING AND CULTURE
Buenos Aires is the perfect place to hunt for vintage finds. Try your luck at the San Telmo Market (Bolívar 950, San Telmo) and Juan Perez (Marcelo T. de Alvear 1439, Recoleta). For kitschy gifts and vintage Argentine memorabilia, head to Cualquier Verdura (Humberto Primero 517, San Telmo). The Sunday morning Feria de San Telmo flea market along Defensa Street is a great place to score souvenirs; but be warned that it is riddled with tourists and, inherently, pickpockets. The Feria de Mataderos market (Av. Lisandro de la Torre and Avenida de los corrales S/N) is further out of the city and trickier to get to, but well worth the visit. Frequented by locals, it offers food stall after food stall of traditional treats such as empanadas and tamales, as well as live shows by traditional folk performers, and authentic gaucho goods ranging from leather wallets and handbags to beautiful scarves and cardigans woven of the finest Patagonian lamb’s wool.
Argentina has regularly produced writers who’ve molded the Latin American literary scene—from Julio Cortazar and Jorge Luis Borges to Alejandra Pizarnik and Alfonsina Storni—so it’s no surprise Buenos Aires is the unofficial bookstore capital of Latin America. The most picturesque is the ornate and grandiose former opera house-turned-bookstore, El Ateneo (Av. Santa Fe 1860, City Center). If you love digging for rare finds, the second-hand English bookstore Walrus (Estados Unidos 617, San Telmo) is your place. For feminist reads, pay a visit to the Librería de Mujeres (Dr. Rodolfo Rivarola 133, City Center), aka the Women’s Bookstore—the only one of its kind in Argentina.
By Carla McKirdy
This article originally appeared in the August/September 2016 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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