Tony’s Top 7 Argentine Cafés
Argentines are socialites. It’s in their blood. Even in the poorest of years, Argentines still dig deep into their sofas to find loose change and hit a bar or two, chatting with friends and family and enjoying each other’s company.
But it’s the portenos—locals from the capital city of Buenos Aires—who embody the happy-go-lucky, out-and-about attitude. And they do it in fashion.
7. I like jazz. I love it, actually. A jazz singer on the side, I try and find live music in every city I’m in. When it comes to my preferred beats, Notorious takes the cake in Buenos Aires. Drink coffee, have a pastry, listen to the oldest or latest jazz CDs for free, or hang around until the evening hours for a live performance. It’s all at Notorious. Located at Avenida Callao 966 in the Recoleta neighborhood.
6. Though well-known now, this former opera house-turned-bookstore is a sight to see. Built in 1919, El Ateneo houses over a million books to purchase—all new—in the former viewing boxes of the opera house. Books are also where the orchestra seating was, too. Grab a coffee there and your favorite pages—many offered in English—and look up. Your eyes will love all that they take in. Located at Avenida Santa Fe 1860 in the Recoleta neighborhood.
5. Another known and old café (I promise, the next four will not have heard of) is Café Tortoni. Built in 1858, I would say it’s worth having a drink in, as the prices are high for what you get. But walk through and take in the fact that you’re traversing the same floor tiles as these notables did: Albert Einstein, Federico Garcia Lorca, Carlos Gardel, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Duvall, among others. Located at Avenida de Mayo 825 in the Monserrat neighborhood.
4. Bar Olviedo is a true gaucho bar, though oddly located in a busy corner (gauchos are known to be quiet, nonintrusive people). Owned and operated by Hector Aventuroso, he has the gaucho style down well with his authentic corduroy coat and cowboy hat. He and his team serve fairly authentic gaucho plates like matambre casero, choripan, and lengua a la vinagreta. Located at Avenida Lisandro de la Torre 2407 in the Boedo neighborhood.
3. Brod Almuerzos is a convenient sandwich and drinks-to-go shop if you’re running late to a meeting or your train at the nearby station in Retiro. Opened by a few young friends who got tired “working for the man,” Brod is a classy place to grab absolutely fresh meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables assembled on some of the most delicious loafs. Located at Maipu 875, it is in the Retiro neighborhood.
2. I like a place that is known for one thing because they concentrate their efforts and become the best at it. Black Café does that, and does it with coffee. Need a pick-me-up coffee prepared so beautifully you can barely come to terms with yourself for drinking it? Then get to Black Café. Located at Del Valle Iberlucea 1061 in La Boca neighborhood.
1. My #1 favorite café/bar in Buenos Aires isn’t a specific one. It’s the hole-in-the-wall, very local café I happen to stumble upon. I often wander Buenos Aires without a plan, and end up very pleased with what I come by. My #1 café/bar is the yet unknown one. The one I’ll walk into next time, have a drink or meal in, and leave feeling closer to a city I’ve known so long but surprises me each time.