You’re very welcome for bringing you the best of Buenos Aires, Argentina! With my live-like-a-local knowledge, because, well, I am one. I’ve basically done the hard work for you. Consider this an all-encompassing roster of anything and everything Buenos Aires. You want steak? I got you. A Malbec lover? Me, too. Playing polo is on your bucket list? There’s a company for that. Knowledge is power, so share this with your friends and family who are lucky visitors and even those who are going to live vicariously through them. Without further ado, check out what to do in Buenos Aires, the Paris of the South.
| Where to Stay in Buenos Aires |
Four Seasons Buenos Aires – The furnishings are grand, the linens fine, the marble immaculate, and yet the atmosphere emits a very humble elegance made possible by the warm and welcoming staff in this Recoleta retreat.
Park Hyatt – This Recoleta mansion was built in the Belle Époque era and belonged to an aristocratic family for many years before becoming the Park Hyatt in 2002. If you don’t stay here, be sure to go for a cup of tea or glass of champagne on the terrace.
Alvear Palace – This old-world Belle Époque landmark exudes class through and through. Built in 1932, the hotel incorporates rooms designed in Louis XIV and Louis XVI style with soaring ceilings, crystal chandeliers and Corinthian columns near Recoleta Cemetery.
Faena Hotel – Trendy, modern and oh so sultry. Be sure to check out the spa, pool and the Sunday tango show, the best in the city! Located in Puerto Madero.
Oasis Collections – If you want to live like a local for a bit, may I suggest renting a high-end apartment with Oasis and gain access to their trendy Clubhouse in Palermo Soho.
| Neighborhoods (AKA Barrios) |
Belgrano – A large, wealthy and residential area of town.
Colegiales – A smaller but largely residential barrio (neighborhood) and known for its green spaces.
Las Cañitas – This peaceful and residential area has incorporated quality restaurants and some shops.
Palermo Hollywood – This is where I reside while in BsAs that’s littered with radio and TV stations throughout (hence the name) and known for its nightlife, which includes some of the best restaurants, bar and clubs in the city.
Palermo Soho – Copious amounts of cafés, restaurants and boutiques in low-rise buildings, Palermo Soho is crazy, sexy, cool…and definitely the “trendiest” in the city.
Chacarita – Unhurried, laid-back and unpretentious. The most dominating landmark in Chacarita is Cementerio de la Chacarita, though often overshadowed by Recoleta’s powerhouse of a cemetery.
Villa Crespo – A quiet spot for residents, this barrio also has something for locals and visitors alike with its delicious restaurants and shopping scene.
Caballito – Quiet, sleepy and a lot cheeper than popular barrios like Palermo. Honestly, there’s nothing to write home about here.
Recoleta – Most affluent neighborhood in the city with beautiful European architecture that, if you stay here, will have you thinking you woke up in Paris. The Recoleta Cemetery, embassies and nice restaurants are all nearby.
Centro – Buenos Aires’ financial district. With major streets such as Avenida de Julio, Avenida Corrientes and Florida passing through it, Centro is a constantly animated neighborhood and offers a lot to porteños and visitors alike.
Puerto Madero – With its new construction and wide expanses, this wealthy neighborhood somehow seems isolated from the rest of the city. Dine at fancy restaurants overlooking the port.
San Telmo – Oldest part of the city with cobble stone streets, fading architecture and an all around romantic vibe. The fair on Sundays is a must-see. Find more info in my Sunday Funday post.
La Boca – Dangerous and colorful are two words that come to mind when trying to explain this barrio. This is where the Boca Juniors Stadium is and where tango all started. If you’ve seen pictures of really colorful houses in BA, they’re here. I’ve only been once and that was enough.
| Getting Around |
Buenos Aires has two airports: Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) which is the main hub for domestic flights and inside the Palermo neighborhood, basically making it awesome. It’s easy to grab a cab outside at ground transportation. Alternatively, getting into the city from EZE takes around an hour. Wahwah. Grab a remis (quality taxi) in the area between baggage claim and ground transportation. You can’t miss the stands. I suggest getting a few quotes in order to gauge the best fare.
If you want a quick overall view of the city, take a giant double-decker bus. How London of you. The colectivo (public bus) is actually an efficient way of getting around the city for next to nothing. Taxis are incredibly affordable as well, and it’s enjoyable to roll down the window and watch the city pass by. This is your best bet.
The Subte (subway) is ideal for central areas, but go with somebody who knows what they’re doing for your first time underground.
| Restaurants |
Proper: $$$ As I update this post (1/11/17), Proper just might be the best restaurant in the city of BsAs. Set in an old mechanic shop, the vibes are low key and the food is AHHMAZING. It’s cash only, so come prepared. The staff is unbelievably friendly and the food is orgasmic. Yeah, I said it. Get the flan, get the flan, dear God get the flan whatever you do. I realize flan has never been a sexy dessert but this will certainly change your mind.
Nicky Harrison: $$$ Find a friend to get you into the back of this Speakeasy. It’ll transport you to the Prohibition days with inventive cocktails and themed furnishings.
Osaka: $$$$ Japan and Peru had a baby and named her Osaka. Who doesn’t love Peruvian-Japanese fusion? Excellent sushi and ceviche oozes out of this beautiful restaurant, perfect for a romantic date, business meeting or group dinner. It’s so diverse that anybody can find what they’re looking for here. Order the white fish in leche de tigre, Osaka Roll, fried king crab and king crab salad in a fukimaki roll, or the Kobe beef, served raw with a Japanese mustard butter and spring onion. The prices are well worth the quality cuisine and service.
I Latina: $$$$ If you’re a foodie, you can’t miss out on what’s behind closed doors. It’s time to open your eyes, mind and mouth for the unique Argentine take on dinner. All about blurring the lines between a licensed eatery and a dinner party, these gastronomical experiences are held in unadvertised locals. I Latina will transport you to Colombia with its fixed 7 course dinner. Voted #1 of 2,336 restaurants in Buenos Aires on TripAdvisor, I’d say this is a sure bet on a good night. Bring a large handful of pesos with you, and leave with a much lighter wallet to sleep off that food baby.
Fukuro: $$ An amazing switch up to the Argentina steak is this noodle bar and pork bun eatery. The decor is funky and the owners are beyond friendly. The Argentine take on an ice cream sandwich is a must-try too. Secret ingredient that’s not so secret: Fernet! Order the #HuangBrother steamed buns with the #KeepItRealRamen noodles. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
In Bocca Al Lupo Cafe: $ This charming Italian cafe is a little slice of heaven. The coffee is strong but the atmosphere is nice and relaxed. It is so easy to return time and time again for breakfast meetings, lunch dates, coffee dates, all-day-work-day sessions. With a full menu of pastries, cakes, breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, homemade Italian food, complimentary wi-fi and an oh so inviting vibe. I can’t say enough good things. Just go! *UPDATE* Closed until further notice.
NOLA: $ From closed-door restaurant turned to Buenos Aires’ first gastro-pub, NOLA continues to win over the hearts of locals and foreigners alike with its cajun style food and home-brewed beer. The owner was born and raised from New Orleans, Louisiana, and knows a thing or two about fried chicken and red beans with rice. If you think you’ve had the best southern meal you’ll ever taste, think again. There’s a contender cooking away in Buenos Aires.
Sarkis: $$ If you like Armenian food and are in Buenos Aires for a bit, Sarkis is kind of obligatory. Order the Belén salad (eggplant, roasted red pepper, almond, golden raisin mix), Lamb or beef kafta complete (meat in yogurt sauce), chicken kebab, tabbouleh, and babaganoush. It’s all divine. The place has a crowd waiting out front before it even opens, so you know it’s that good. Tip: When it comes to good food, go where the people are.
Siamo nel Forno: $$ I’m just going to say it. Argentina doesn’t do pizza very well. I hate to generalize when there is one place that can put every other pizza place to shame. Siamo nel Forno does it right with about 8 choices of individual sized pizzas to choose from along with calzones and delicious desserts. Sometimes there’s nothing better than pizza paired with an amazing Malbec.
Burger Joint: $ The is no ordinary hole in the wall. This is a burger haven in the land of beef where good burgers simply don’t exist. It’s amazing how so many locals and foreigners alike have been on an endless quest to find a decent burger…until now. God forbid you see a burger anywhere else on the menu in Buenos Aires and order it. No. You come here to bask in 1 of 5 of their delectable burgers with even more delectable fries. While you wait, grab a marker and start doodling on the wall. Go ahead, it’s encouraged and interactive and awesome.
Gran Dabbang: $$ A few words of wisdom here: go with a group right when the place opens at 8pm b/c the place gets PACKED (I know, I know…that’s early for an Argentine dinner) and order everything on the menu. Repeat as desired.
Buenos Aires Verde: $$ To all my vegetarians out there: DO NOT MISS THIS GEM OF A VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT. I’m not a vegetarian, and I still eat here regularly. Pizza, burger, soup… it’s all scrumptious.
Miranda: $$ Saaaaaaalllllllaaaaddddddddd. Oh heavenly greens I love you so much. After living in Argentina for a few years, I found it challenging to get a quality salad. It’s a good thing I lived right next door to Miranda where their ensalada de jacenta saved lives. Do not I repeat DO NOT miss their empanadas del horno.
| Brunch Spots |
Ninina – $$ In the land of red meat and redder wine, it’s hard to find a good salad. This spot not only lures in Palermo passerbys with its stark white marble and chic copper lighting, but it goes one step further with providing kale – a green almost unheard of in Buenos Aires. Think salads, smoothies, veggies burgers, sandwiches and cakes that’ll have you coming back mañana.
Malvon – $$ Two words: bread basket. It’s the best in the city. This place has a huge menu and as for me, I like options. This place is why I keep going back to Villa Crespo.
Cafe Crespin – $$ Bagels, bagels where art thou? It’s hard to find them in this city, much less a bagel with bacon, egg and cheese to cure a bad hangover. I quit my bitching once I discovered this place.
Oui Oui – $$ Consistency is hard to come by in BA, but Oui Oui has never failed me. The “Gallo” is amazing with their homemade granola + yogurt. Thanks to the brunch gods, this is only a few blocks from my home in Palermo Hollywood.
Sirop – $$$ If you’re in search of a Sunday Funday and the best Bloody Mary EVER, look no further. This Recoleta restaurant will spit you out three hours later fat and happy.
Nuestro Secreto – $$$ Four Seasons does just about everything right and then some. Need I elaborate on how decadent their brunch is? If you must, see more here.
Pani – $$ With multiple restaurants in various barrios throughout BsAs, eat like a queen in one of the locations with delicious salads and sandwiches!
| Best Steakhouses (AKA Parrillas) |
Don Julio – $$$ With people acting like nothing short of wild beasts to get a table here, you should go ahead and make a reservation before trying to dine among quality beef and delectable wine. Your taste buds will thank you after. If you’re lucky, you’ll be handed a bottle of wine for your autograph on the way out that will adorn the walls of the popular eatery. The place is surrounded by bottles and bottles of drunk wine from patrons past – which lets you know you’re in good company.
Dada – $$$ YUMMMMMM. Ever since Donny Js got super popular, Dada has been my go-to steak place. This small bistro whips up one of the best steaks in town.
La Cabrera – $$$$ Touristy? Yes. Gimmicky? A little. Delicious? Absolutely. Tried and true? Definitely. This restaurant may be touristy, but that doesn’t take away from it’s scrumptious menu. From the Argentine steaks to the chorizo to the various side orders, you won’t go wrong with La Cabrera. Although you’ll leave full and happy, your wallet will most likely be much lighter than when you walked in the place.
La Brigada – $$$ Very charming parrilla in the heart of San Telmo with soccer and polo memorabilia hanging on the walls and steak so tender they cut it off the bone with a spoon. Show offs.
| Closed-Door Restaurants |
Dining in Buenos Aires is anything but conventional. The proof lies in the puertas cerradas, or closed-door restaurants, throughout the city’s various barrios. Click here to see my pick for the top 5 most sought after tables in town.
| Cuisine Tips & Customs |
Argentine specialties you shouldn’t miss:
- Medialunas – Argentina’s answer to the croissant but a little sweeter.
- Ice Cream – My favorite is Persicco (a chain found scattered around the city), but they’re all to die for. Volta and Freddo are also good chains, and you really can’t go wrong with the Mom and Pop artisan shops.
- Dulce de leche – Popular sweet made from a combination of milk and sugar that has been slowly cooked until the sugars caramelize, producing a thick, creamy, intensely flavored spread. I think it’s somewhat like a cousin to caramel… but you tell me.
- Alfajor – Cookies with dulce de leche inside.
- Empanadas – Do I really need to explain?
- Fernet and Cola – Argentine traditional drink with an intense kick and for an acquired taste.
- Ojo de Bife al Caballo – A rib eye with a fried egg on top, AKA heart attack on a delicious plate.
- Intestines & glands – (rinones, morcilla, chicherones) Worth a try…
- Pizza pizza – I personally dislike a lot of the pizza here (it’s thick with too little sauce and too much cheese), but it definitely has its own identity. I’ll give it that.
- Provoleta – A grilled wheel of provolone cheese, often charred a little til crispy. YUM.
- Mate – Argentina’s national (non-alcoholic) beverage. Very bitter tea that takes some getting used to but is addictive once you do. Tea leaves are stuffed in a gord with a metal straw and then often passed around groups. Hope you’ve already had mono!
- It’s custom to tip 10% of your meal total in Argentina.
| Wine Tastings |
Vico Wine Bar – Epic wine and beautiful furnishings in Villa Crespo, a perfect spot for a group outing
La Malbequeria – Wine tasting w/ a cute lil patio in Palermo
Bar du Marché – A Palermo favorite where wine lovers unite in a petit Parisian-style tasting room. Sometimes I just don’t understand why a city that shows so much love for their vino is really lacking in the wine bar department. Thank you, wine gods (Bacchus?), for this happy hour fix full of good vibes and cheese.
Cava Jufré – Located on a quiet corner in Villa Crespo, Cava Jufré’s knows its vino tinto. Owner Lito personally selects every bottle on the extensive wine list. What a fun job. Gulp gulp guullppp.
Pain et Vin – Wine, bread, coffee, and sandwiches. That’s really all I need in life. Eleonora and her husband organize wine tastings periodically throughout each month. Check their Facebook page for more.
Anuva Wines – With Anuva’s generous and unlimited pours, it’s more like a ‘guzzling’ instead of ‘tasting’ here…which isn’t a bad thing in my book.
While these establishments are superb, I’d probably skip most of them and head to wine country known as Mendoza for the real thing. The view alone is worth the 1 & 1/2 hour flight from BA.
| Bars |
Million – Timeless elegance, beautiful people and delectable cocktails have the most beautiful and graceful bar in Buenos Aires outshining all of its competition.
Gran Bar Danzon – It’s hard to be hipper than this lounge-esque bar in the Centro barrio of Buenos ires. The food is fine, but make no mistake – you’re here for the drinks and scenery.
Ferona – Eclectic interiors with a fun DJ that’ll have you dancing downstairs or on the terrace until the wee hours of the morning.
Temple Bar – All around good, laid back bar with cold beer and bar food, if that’s what you’re looking for.
Victoria Brown – The design is stunning and the atmosphere is welcoming. Any place that sticks marshmallows on my drink is fine by me.
Frank’s – A password protected speakeasy that you can usually decipher from their FB page. Their cucumber martini is everything.
Isabel – Sceney, and maybe too sceney, but the music will give you eargasms and the drinks will get you not sober. The mirrors and interiors will have you tripping, along with the absenthe drink you may order.
Niky Harrison – I love to hate this place. The atmosphere might be the most unique I’ve ever come across with its 1920 prohibition era vibes, and the cocktails are like a jolly rancher and sophistication had a baby. But damn the drinks can be slooowwww, inevitably making you sober.
Steve Bar – The interiors are incredible here and so is the beer. Cozy fireplace, weird art and friendly staff can’t be beat.
The Clubhouse – A private members club that’s very unassuming from the outside, but gain entry with a member and you’ll discover an Oasis in the middle of Palermo you never knew existed. Pool included.
Pony Line – This Four Seasons bar whips up some of the tastiest cocktails I’ve ever had the pleasure of sipping. Try their Backhander.
Florería Atlantico – Very cool space with even cooler drinks. If you go, don’t be alarmed – the top portion of the space is a flower shop. The bar is downstairs.
Verne Club – Amazing specialty drinks with, drumroll please… gourmet hotdogs. Nothing wrong with an expensive martini with an equally deletable hot dog right next to each other.
Rey de Copas – Another specialty cocktail spot with a spacious and comfy atmosphere.
Peugeot Lounge – Posh and chic with good music, this Palermo spot makes one of the best vodka sodas I’ve ever had. I know, I know… The VS is so basic, but not here. Nor is their terrace.
| Clubs (AKA Boliches) |
Tequila – Loathe the drink but love the club. Take a disco nap before you go as you’ll most likely see the sunrise.
Jet – Sexy and sophisticated, this boliche starts as a lounge bar, but as the cocktails go down, the dance floor heats up. The place has a death-grip on Thursday nights, and don’t show your face until at least 1am. Be prepared to look fine or pay one to get in.
Shampoo – First off, the name alone should make you want to check this place out. It leaves so much to be imagined. My first thought was foam parties galore, but nah. Think Sparkling chandeliers, disco balls, deep red curtains and swanky leather couches.
Crow Bar – This was my first boliche experience in Buenos Aires, and it’s under a highway. Sketchy on the outside to say the least, and on the inside house/electronic music and mobs of people come out to play on Friday nights.
Pachá – The club franchise with branches all over the world is as impressive as you would expect from a global brand – it’s all-white on the outside with a great location on the river. Be prepared to dance your face off.
| Sights of Buenos Aires |
Recoleta Cemetery – Sure, it sounds weird to suggest people visit a cemetery, but this one is a classic. The graves are magnificent mausoleums, some kept in pristine condition, others in more decay than the bodies inside. Consider this a great photography destination – though i suggest bringing a friend.
Teatro Colon – Stunning opera house with some of the best acoustics in the world. Take a tour or better yet, hear an opera or see a ballet.
Bosques de Palermo – Buenos Aires knows its parks. These green spaces go for miles, so take a book, friend and/or a bottle of wine with a blanket for the afternoon.
Mataderos Market – A weekend market with lots of gaucho exhibits and other local crafts. It’s less touristy than many of the other weekend markets, but with the tradeoff that it’s a little under an hour drive to get there.
Bomba del Tiempo – Drum routine that takes place at the Konex Center every Monday Night around 9pm. Loud and fun to see once. But probably no more.
San Telmo Fair – This little slice of Buenos Aires is magnificently weird while putting on a weekly feria, or fair, each Sunday with varying antiques, leathers, knickknacks, old books, jewelry, art and crafts.
Fernandez Fierro – 12 musician electric tango orchestra that plays at a weekly Wednesday milonga (tango dance halls) at Club Atlético Fernández.
La Viruta – Fun and inexpensive place to take tango lessons (for all levels). Watch the pros take over after class ends to get a mini show.
Japanese Gardens – A beautiful area that transports you to Japan with its numerous bonsai trees and other flora native to the area. It basically looks like Narnia, so it’s definitely worth the 32 peso entrance fee.
MALBA – (Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires) This is one of the city’s best museums with an impressive permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. The cafe is also delicious, though pricey.
Botanical Gardens – Beautiful space in Palermo with lots of greenery, statues and cats. Yes, cats.
Puente de la Mujer – (Bridge of the Woman) This is Puerto Madero’s signature monument. The structure resembles a sharp fishhook or even a harp – but is supposed to represent a couple dancing the tango. Just go with it.
Soccer Match – Fütbol is to Argentina as football is to the USA. Check out La Bombonera (Boca Juniors team) or River Stadium (River team) to get in on the action.
Floralis Genérica – This gigantic flower has become one of the latest icons of Buenos Aires and goes by its scientific name (which nobody can remember, so it’s usually just called the big steel flower). Previously, it would close at night and open during the day, but now that the flower is broken, it stays open 24/7.
Chinatown – I think this is probably more exciting for spice-deprived expats, but it’s still interesting even for tourists. Located on a couple block stretch of Belgrano, Chinatown offers throbbing supermarkets full of imported goodies you can’t get anywhere else in the city.
Polo Fields – Played between September and November and long regarded as a sport for the elite, polo is played at the 16,000-capacity Campo Argentino de Polo in Palermo.
El Ateneo – The most beautiful bookstore in the world is located in Recoleta in a converted theater.
Palace of Running Water – The architecturally stunning building designed in 1897 once used to house the city’s water agency. They have a small quirky museum inside but the real treat is the facade.
| Shopping |
Palermo Soho is the main shopping mecca where boutiques are a dime a dozen along with scrumptious cafes, restaurants and bars. The streets are cobblestoned, the stores are trendy, and the pedestrians well-heeled. If you start at the corner of El Salvador y Armenia you will basically be in the heart of everything.
DOMA – Amazing, quality leather jackets but not custom made. The main branch is El Salvador and Guruchaga and the outlet is Guruchaga and Velazco.
Ayres – One of the only consistently good quality clothing stores in BA. Have a range of simple to trendy pieces, but usually clean-cut and elegant.
Mishka – Hit or miss shoe store, but it’s always fun to poke in to see how Argie women dress (i.e. clunky platforms the size of Big Mac trucks. i.e. not, I repeat NOT cute).
Carla Danielli – Colorful bags and accessories.
Silvia y Mario – A leather workshop near Plaza San Martin (exact address is Marcelo T. Alvear 550). They do custom jackets for very reasonable prices and the owner is fabulous.
Arandú – One of my favorite shops in the city with tons of leather and riding motifs galore. Paying homage to the Argentine sport of polo, this place has it all – leather boots, wallets, woven bracelets, suede hunting bags, needlepoint belts, and alpaca-silver picture frames. You can even find huge, amazing coffee table style books upstairs.
| Day Trips |
Polo Day – I highly suggest a day on the field with this company. They can pick you up (and drop you off) from where you’re staying and drive you to a polo estancia (ranch) in Pilar. Send the day wining and dining on a feast of an asado and watching a professional polo match before learning how to play polo yourself.
Tigre – Tigre is an interesting delta city set on the river. Boat around the city’s waterways for the day or rent a stilted villa and stay the night. When you get away from the main city, it feels like you’ve escaped to the jungle. Beware of mosquitos and SUPER FAST currents if you dare to go swimming in the river’s unappetizing brown waters.
San Antonio de Areco (Estancias) – Estancias are sprawling ranches outside the city of Buenos Aires that are extremely popular for a get-a-way weekend. San Antonio de Areco is a traditional gaucho town about 100 km from BA. Estancia La Bamba is incredible, though pricey. Other options include La Sofia and El Ombu.
Colonia – Just a 40 minute ferry ride from BA lies a beautiful colonial city in Uruguay. It’s a quaint, quiet little town that makes for a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle. That being said, be prepared for high prices and not a whole lot of activity. Great for an additional passport stamp!
San Isidro – This peaceful and residential town is only 30 minutes to an hour (depending on traffic) from Buenos Aires. The charming suburb is full of cobblestone streets lined with some luxurious mansions and an historic center with many craft fairs on the weekends.
| Helpful Websites |
The Road Les Traveled – You’re already here, so you already know this.
Pick Up The Fork – AKA my food bible. Crazy fun food blog that you need to see for yourself.
Guia Oleo – Argentina’s answer to Zagat – though all reviews are based on user ratings so it’s more like TripAdvisor.
BA Interactive Map – Best public transportation mapper.
TimeOut BA – Lifestyle guide to Buenos Aires.
SpanishDict.com – Allows you to make your own flashcard set to practice.
| Tours |
Foto Ruta – Photography treasure hunts in different neighborhoods.
Graffiti Mundo – Tours of Buenos Aires’ awesome street art.
Biking Buenos Aires – Bike tours around different areas of the city.