Dining Finds in Buenos Aires

Palermo Viejo, the city’s hippest ‘hood, is also the best place to chow down. Check out these dining finds in Buenos Aires.

Until a few years ago, Palermo Viejo was mostly unknown outside Buenos Aires. The only reason anyone ventured into this leafy neighborhood, with its stately, century-old houses and makeshift auto shops, was if it was time to pay the family a visit or if the Peugeot was sick.

These days Palermo Viejo has the same thrumming energy as Silver Lake in Los Angeles or the Mitte in Berlin, and it’s the place where in-the-know travelers and hip locals alike go for their shopping (one section is known as Palermo SoHo) and night-life fix. It’s also home to the city’s liveliest dining scene, but here things get trickier to navigate. The area’s trendy status has brought many restaurants that, perhaps not surprisingly, are more about the soaring interiors and designer cocktails than the food. It’s not that a meal at this type of restaurant is bad, just generic: croquettes with clever fillings, crusted salmon served with a side of puréed something. Sit down for a dinner at Olsen, a fashionable and much-lauded favorite that looks to northern Europe for its menu (and midcentury Scandinavia for its décor), and you could be eating the same food, in the same setting, in London or in Manhattan.

Still, there are great finds in Palermo Viejo, as there are throughout the city, which showcase Argentina’s rich culinary history and its bounty, which stretches from the ocean to the Andes. A handful of these are new restaurants that pay homage to this tradition and draw a crowd less interested in who designed the room than in what’s coming out of the kitchen.

Dining Finds in Buenos Aires

One is Jangada, where locals go for the pacú, a lumbering cousin of the piranha that can grow as large as 60 pounds. Jangada’s serving is the size of a porterhouse. Grilled until crispy, the flesh is firm but flaky, and so succulent that from the first bite you’ll understand how it earned its nickname, el lechón del rió, or suckling pig of the river. Pacú is worshiped in Argentina but a rare sight in Buenos Aires. And it’s certainly not anything you’ll find on a menu in the East Village.

For those with more carnivorous appetites, the most obvious place to find authentic local cooking is at a parrilla, the classic Argentine restaurant that offers 20 or more kinds of grilled meats, mostly cuts of steak. It’s like a brasserie, genial and familiar, and the menus at each read mostly the same. Of the dozens of parrillas in Palermo Viejo, La Dorita may be the most famous, but La Cabrera, which opened just a few years ago, is the tastiest.

You could make a meal strictly of starters, like the provoleta, a thick, round slice of cow’s-milk cheese charred on the grill and served sizzling hot with a topping of olive oil and dried herbs. It’s the ultimate mac-and-cheese, only all cheesy crust, no mac. Or go for the morcilla Vasca, Basque-style blood sausage that tastes of mulled spices. The menu offers plenty of beef, but the chef Gastón Rivera experiments with other meats, too, like bondiolita de cerdo, roasted pork shoulder wrapped in bacon, and pato en confit, duck confit grilled until crispy. The chinchulines de cordero, or lamb chitterlings, cooked to a golden brown, could convert any offal skeptic.

And if your stomach can handle it, you could order it all, since one of the real thrills of dining out in Buenos Aires is that it’s embarrassingly inexpensive. The Argentine peso was once at a one-to-one exchange with the dollar, but now it’s settled at about three to one, which means that at La Cabrera, one of the most expensive parrillas, the provoleta, at 13 pesos, will set you back just a tad more than $4. The bondiolita, at 23 pesos, costs less than $8 and can easily feed several. An indulgent dinner for two will total about $40, and if you budget another $20, you can let your finger drift to the bottom of the wine list.

While La Cabrera is a faithful re-creation of the traditional parrilla, some of the best of Palermo Viejo’s new places are about tweaking tradition. Elles, which opened last year in a former house and garage, has a small, and very good, menu of French-inspired dishes and cleaned-up Argentine classics like chipirones a la plancha, or seared baby squid with corn, and bife de chorizo, grilled rib-eye. The space has been whitewashed and left empty except for mismatched oak furniture and an opulent chandelier, giving the room a loftlike elegance. At Divina Patagonia, the regional sampler platter offers a refined introduction to the ingredients of the rugged south: an assortment of sausages, cheeses and cured meats, including smoked deer sliced as thin as prosciutto. Main courses are hearty dishes in delicate portions — Patagonian lamb, deer loin, wild boar braised in beer.

A wave of Italian immigration in the late 1800’s left a lasting impression on Argentina’s culinary landscape: the grilled steak may be the country’s most celebrated dish, but the Milanesa, a breaded veal cutlet, is its comfort food. Order it at El Preferido de Palermo, a 75-year-old Italian grocery and lunch counter, where schoolchildren in uniforms jockey with businessmen in suits for one of the chest-high tables. Milanesa de peceto comes piled high with fries or topped with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella. If you have time, you might linger over the gran picada, an antipasto sampler with 13 different small bites — sausages, olives, wedges of frittata, a hard-boiled quail’s egg neatly sliced in half — accompanied by Hesperidina, an Argentine aperitif every bit as minty and murky as an Italian fernet.

El Preferido de Palermo has weathered Palermo Viejo’s transformation just fine. So has La Cupertina, a homey spot where empanadas are an art, and the owner, Cecilia Hermann, who stands behind a rustic table like a captain commanding a flagship, is a legend. La Cupertina’s empanadas are half the size of what you buy on the street but immeasurably more delicious; try the humita y cebolla y queso, sweet corn and onion and cheese, which is as creamy as pudding, and the carne, a rich, spicy mixture of stewed beef. (And at a little more than 50 cents each, you feel like apologizing when you pay.)

Just a couple blocks away is Casa Cruz, Palermo Viejo’s most fashionable restaurant and the site of a nightly crush of actors, politicians, soccer stars and paparazzi. You can find entourages and expensive drinks there, and, for that matter, anywhere, but you can find food like La Cupertina’s only in Argentina.

WHERE TO STAY

Palermo Viejo is home to some of the city’s newest and coolest places to stay. 1555 Malabia House High-design B&B in a historical building. Malabia 1555; 011-54-11-4833-2410; www.malabiahouse.com.ar; doubles from about $105. Bo Bo Hotel Boutique hotel with modern rooms and a popular restaurant. Guatemala 4882; 011-54-11-4774-0505; www.bobohotel.com; doubles from $100. Five Cool Rooms In fact, 16 rooms, modern design and a great roof garden. Honduras 4742; 011-54-11-5235-5555; www.fivebuenosaires.com; doubles from $90. Home Hotel Bright rooms and a hip English-speaking staff, with a pool and a garden in the middle of the city. Honduras 5860; 011-54-11-4778-1008; www.homebuenosaires.com; doubles from $115. For luxe digs outside the neighborhood, try the new Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt (011-54-11-5171-1234; www.parkhyatt.com; doubles from $410) or the classic Alvear Palace Hotel (011-54-11-4808-2100; www.alvearpalace.com; doubles from $550), both in Recoleta.

WHERE TO EAT

La Cabrera Cabrera 5099; 011-54-11-4831-7002; entrees about $6 to $12. La Cupertina Cabrera 5300; 011-54-11-4777-3711; entrees $3 to $5. Divina Patagonia Honduras 5710; 011-54-11-4771-6864; entrees $6 to $13. Elles Honduras 5916; 011-54-11-4777-9555; entrees $8 to $11. Jangada Honduras 5799; 54-11-4777-4193; entrees $5 to $19. El Preferido de Palermo Jorge Luis Borges 2108; 011-54-11-4774-6585; small plates $1 to $5.

Source: The New York Times – Travel Section

La Boca – Day 1 of the Buenos Aires Secrets Tour

La Boca is definitely the most colorful neighborhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca was settled and built by  Italian immigrants (mostly from the city of Genoa) that worked in the warehouses and meatpacking plants in the area. The Genoese proudly brought their unique identity to La Boca, and one of their old traditions was to paint the outside of their homes with the leftover paint from the shipyard – as nothing else was available or could be afforded.

La Boca and its colors

La Boca and its colors

The conventional explanation for La Boca’s name is that the neighborhood sits at the mouth (“boca” in Spanish) of the Riachuelo.

A Painting by Antonio Berni

A Painting by Antonio Berni

It is known throughout the sporting world as the home of Boca Juniors, one of world’s top football clubs. La Boca is a popular destination for tourists visiting Argentina, with its colourful houses and pedestrian street, the Caminito, where tango artists perform and tango-related memorabilia is sold. Other attractions include the La Ribera theatre, many tango clubs and Italian taverns, as well as La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors.

As one of Buenos Aires’s 48 barrios, La Boca is located in the city’s south-east near its old port. The barrio of Barracas is to the west; San Telmo and Puerto Madero are to the north.

La Boca is partly an artist colony, and mostly a working-class neighborhood. Benito Quinquela Martin was one of the most famous painters of Argentina that came out of La Boca. Antonio Berni, whose paitings can be admired at the Malba Museum in Buenos Aires, is another one of the world’s renowned painters of the time. We should also name, Raul Soldi and Eduardo Sivori.

Caminito

In 1959, Quinquela Martin and his artist friends created the street of Caminito, as a means of recreating the way old La Boca used to look – a reminder of where everyone had come from, not just in La Boca, but Buenos Aires, and Argentina, because this barrio and its port had been the gateway for many immigrants into this city and country (up until Puerto Madero and then Puerto Nuevo were built as replacements in the early 1900s), who then went on to make Buenos Aires and Argentina what they are today. This is the most famous street in La Boca and is the center of tourist activity in the area. The street is commonly shown on postcards for its multi-colored houses. Many artists also show off their work on the sides of the main street.

Colorful neighborhood of La Boca

Colorful neighborhood of La Boca

La Boca Soccer Stadium

The Boca Juniors is one of the biggest soccer teams in Argentina and happens to be one of the clubs that the soccer great Diego Maradona played for. Their stadium, La Bombonera (or the chocolate box – a name due to its shape), is not so surprisingly located in the La Boca barrio. It is possible to get tickets to most games and be a part of a truly Argentine experience. A Soccer Tour is a recommended way to experience this Argentine phenomenon.

Museo de Bellas Artes Quinquela Martin

Once a residence and studio of the artist Quinquela Martin, this museums has a collection of early 20th century Argentine artists. The museum is also known as the Fine Arts Museum of La Boca. Artist and philanthropist Benito Quinquela Martín, one of La Boca’s most famous sons, donated this huge building to the state to create a cultural center in 1936. Don’t be surprised to have to jostle your way through kids filing into class: downstairs is an elementary school, something that the galleries’ bland institutional architecture doesn’t let you forget. Quinquela Martín set out to fill the second floor with Argentine art—on the condition that works were figurative and didn’t belong to any ‘ism.’ Badly lit rooms and lack of any visible organization make it hard to enjoy the minor paintings by Berni, Sívori, Soldi, and other local masters. The smaller third floor contains only Quinquela Martín’s own work, namely the vibrant port scenes that first put La Boca on the map. Outside is a huge sculpture terrace with great views of the river and old port buildings on one side; and the Boca

Benito Quinquela Martin - Painting of La Boca

Benito Quinquela Martin – Painting of La Boca

Juniors stadium and low-rise downtown skyline on the other. Signs about the history of the museum are translated into English, but nothing else is.
Pedro de Mendoza 1835
Phone: 4301-1080

Tour La Boca on your first day in Buenos Aires with our unique and exclusive 7 days / 6 nights Buenos Aires Secrets Tour.

How to See Live Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina

If you want to find out how to see live tango in Buenos Aires, take note!

Argentina is the tango capital of the world. Created in Buenos Aires in the 1800s by poor immigrants, Argentine tango is one of the most sultry, seductive and mesmorizing dances around. If you have the pleasure of visiting this amazing country, do not miss your chance to witness the passion and strength displayed in a live tango performance, which truly encapsulates the spirit of Argentina.

How to See Live Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Instructions

Step 1: Professional Tango Show & Dinner

Enjoy dinner and a professional tango show at the many dinner theaters Buenos Aires has to offer. Esquina Carlos Gardel, La Ventana, Taconeando, El Querandí, Señor Tango, Michelangelo, Complejo Tango, and Che Tango are some of the city’s most popular tango show theaters. Come hungry and ready to be amazed by the fancy footwork displayed by these tango pros.

Step 2: Professional Tango Show

If you have already eaten, but are craving some tango for dessert–fear not. There are many tango shows in Buenos Aires that focus strictly on the dance. These are usually more low-key and less touristy. Check out Recoleta Tango, Café Tortoni, and the Teatro Colón.

Step 3: Visit a Local Bar

Take a giant leap off the tourist path, and head to a local bar or a milonga, to observe tango performed by local residents, called Porteños. These dancers are not professionals, but they all share a passion for the dance of their country, and certainly put on quite a show. After a few Quilmes (Argentina’s famous beer), you just may feel like joining in. Salon Canning, Bar Celta, Milongueando, Confitería Ideal, Bella Vista Tango Club, La Viruta, Soho Tango, Mundo Tango, and Porteño y Bailarín are just some of the many milongas in Buenos Aires.

Step 4: Tango on the Streets

One of the best places to see live tango is on the streets of the city itself. Flock to a crowded, tourist-laced area for a chance to see a free performance right on the street amidst the chaos of the city. With their own music in tow, these street dancers are more often than not extremely talented and are well-deserving of a peso or dos.

Step 5: Visit San Telmo

Head to the San Telmo market, which occurs every Sunday, to witness some of tango’s finest amateur talent. In addition to the rare antiques and beautiful hand-made goods you will find at the market, it is also a great place to catch live tango right on the closed-down cobble stoned streets leading up to the market tents.

Step 6: Calle Florida

The crowded pedestrian-only shopping street, la Calle Florida is perfect not only for a great bargain, but for live entertainment in the form of tango as well.

Step 7: La Boca

La Boca, one of the city’s most unique neighborhoods and original immigration port, is the perfect place to experience the real spirit of Argentine tango. Brightly colored buildings, beautiful art, and live music provide the perfect backdrop for an impromptu tango show in Caminito. La Boca is after all, the birthplace of tango.

Source: eHow

36 Hours in Buenos Aires

“IT is better to look good than to feel good,” the Argentine actor Fernando Lamas once remarked. He could have been talking about Buenos Aires after its 2002 peso crisis. The financial meltdown emasculated the Argentine economy, but it also made Buenos Aires, the expensive cosmopolitan capital, an attractive and suddenly affordable destination. Now largely recovered from “La Crisis,” the city is being energized by an influx of tourists, expatriates and returning Argentine émigrés, and its glamorous night life and conspicuous consumption have reached a fever pitch. While inflation is now reappearing, Buenos Aires, at least for the moment, not only looks good but feels that way too.

 

Museo de Bellas Artes- Buenos Aires

Museo de Bellas Artes- Buenos Aires

36 Hours in Buenos Aires: Friday

2 p.m.
1) UNDERGROUND CITY

For a fascinating peek into Buenos Aires’s history, start at El Zanjón de Granados(Defensa 755; 54-11-4361-3002), a 175-year-old mansion that leads to a series of underground tunnels that go back to the city’s early settlements. (The city was founded in 1536.) Now a museum, El Zanjón offers intriguing one-hour tours (20 pesos, or about $6.30 at 3.16 pesos to the dollar) through a cross section of the city’s archaeological layers.

4 p.m.
2) ICE CREAM AND ART

Explore present-day Buenos Aires in the cobblestoned district of San Telmo. While best known for its weekend antiques market, the neighborhood now has plenty of cool shops and restaurants. The ice cream parlor Nonna Bianca (Estados Unidos 407; 54-11-4362-0604) balances rustic Patagonian décor with adventurous flavors like kumquats in whiskey (small cone: 3 pesos). San Telmo is also home to a growing gallery scene including the swank Wussman Gallery (Venezuela 574; 54-11-4343-4707; www.wussmann.com) and Appetite (Chacabuco 551; 54-9-11-6112-9975; www.appetite.com.ar), which specializes in punk-rock-style art.

9:30 p.m.
3) LITTLE ITALY, ARGENTINA

More than a third of Argentina’s population is of Italian descent, and Guido’s Bar (República de la India 2843; 54-11-4802-2391) fulfills all the Little Italy tropes, from “Volare” on the stereo to the New York City skyline on the ceiling. But the crowd is Argentine and the food is varied and tasty. There is no menu and after one question — “Red or white?” — the waiters bring a seemingly random assortment of plates, like a cold appetizer of spinach and red bell peppers in a paprika mayonnaise sauce, followed by Spanish tortillas, stuffed eggplants, penne in red sauce and pignoli nuts. How the waiter figures your bill (45 to 60 pesos a person) remains a mystery.

11:45 p.m.
4) PLAY IT AGAIN, CARLOS

The spirit of Carlos Gardel, the godfather of Argentine tango, lives on in the Almagro neighborhood, where Bar 12 de Octubre (Bulnes 331; 54-11-4862-0415;www.barderoberto.com.ar) offers weekly music shows. Started in the mid-90s when the famed tangoist Roberto Medina stopped in to play a few songs, the shows run Tuesday to Friday nights between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. Arrive early to get a good spot, before the crowds of tattooed 20- and 30-somethings jam the tiny, grungy space.

36 Hours in Buenos Aires: Saturday

11 a.m.
5) CAFE CULTURE

With its prime location and literary clientele that included Jorge Luis Borges, Café Tortoni(Avenida de Mayo 825; 54-11-4342-4328; www.cafetortoni.com.ar) is the most famous of the cafes from Buenos Aires’s belle époque. But more magnificent is Las Violetas (Avenida Rivadavia 3899; 54-11-4958-7387; www.lasvioletas.com), a 123-year-old French-style cafe. After closing briefly in the late 1990s, Las Violetas’s interior, including its gorgeous stained glass, has been restored. The white-jacketed waiters serve the classic breakfast of café con leche with three croissants (5.40 pesos), but the shocker of the menu is the María Cala tea service, an eye-popping pile of cakes, scones, finger sandwiches and pan dulce pastries (29 pesos for three people).

Cafe Tortoni - Buenos Aires

Cafe Tortoni – Buenos Aires

1 p.m.
6) DON’T CRY FOR HER

To most visitors, the Recoleta Cemetery in the upscale Recoleta district (intersection of Junín and Guido) is known as the place where Eva Perón’s body is buried. But the graveyard is also the final home of several presidents, scientists and other influential Argentines.

3 p.m.
7) THE LAND OF POLO

To marvel at Argentina’s longtime obsession with horses, head to the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo (Avenida del Libertador 4101; 54-11-4778-2800;www.palermo.com.ar; entrance fee 5 pesos). Opened in 1876, the elegant racetrack has a French neo-Classical grandstand, the Confitería París restaurant and a basement casino. For up-close action, sit at the wooden tables that dot the flowery lawn. There are 10 race days a month.

7 p.m.
8) DRINKING AND NOT DRIVING

Malba, short for Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, is considered to have one of the finest Latin American art collections in the world (Alcorta 3415; 54-11-4808-6500; www.malba.org.ar; entrance fee 12 pesos). In addition to a permanent collection that includes Frida Kahlo, Xul Solar, Diego Rivera and Guillermo Kuitca, the cavernous museum has also had traveling shows by Lichtenstein, Stella and Warhol. Afterward, head next door to the Museo Renault (Alcorta 3399; 54-11-4802-9626; www.mrenault.com.ar) for one of the city’s best martinis and one of the city’s weirder new trends: car-branded bars. Audi, Ferrari, Maserati and Mini Cooper have opened up their own boîtes nearby.

10 p.m.
9) MEAT, MEAT AND MORE MEAT

In the shopping-friendly district of Palermo Soho, La Cabrera (Cabrera 5099; 54-11-4831-7002) is a French bistro that takes Argentina’s amazing steaks in a new direction. The chef, Gastón Rivera, serves classic beef cuts like juicy ojo de bife (30.50 pesos), but serves it alongside an impressive array of untraditional side dishes including mashed pumpkin with raisins, beet purée and baked pearl onions in red wine. Arrive early to take advantage of the free champagne at the sidewalk waiting area, while you listen to tango-themed electronica music and watch the beautiful crowd of jet-setting locals and trendy visitors.

12 a.m.
10) HASTA LA MAÑANA

If you’re looking to dance, head to the consistently trendy Niceto Club (Niceto Vega 5510; 54-11-4779-9396; www.nicetoclub.com), a multistory venue on an industrial strip lined with auto repair shops. Local bands like Los Alamos and the French Kid Loco play before midnight; afterward, D.J.’s play psychedelic trance and dance music. The crowd peaks around 3 a.m. If you prefer places that get going before 1 a.m., head to Mundo Bizarro(Serrano 1222; 54-11-4773-1967; www.mundobizarrobar.com), a night-life mainstay decorated with 50s pinup posters and a stripper pole. For other hot clubs, check out WhatsUpBuenosAires.com (bilingual) and BuenosAliens.com (Spanish).

36 Hours in Buenos Aires: Sunday

10 a.m
11) ROSES AND ROSAS

For a break from the careering colectivo buses and bumblebee-colored cabs, go to Parque Tres de Febrero (also known as the Bosques de Palermo) on the city’s northern edge. The 965-acre park fills on weekends with runners, cyclists, sun worshipers and the odd club kid unwilling to let Saturday end. Stroll past the placid lake, the whiffle ball-shaped planetarium and the Rosedal garden, which has about 12,000 roses. Those club kids are heading to Arkos (Avenida Casares and Avenida Sarmiento; 54-11-4804-2512;www.clubarkos.com.ar) an after-hours party inside the park that starts Sundays at 7 a.m.
1 p.m.
12) LUNCH + DINNER = BRUNCH

Sunday brunch at Olsen (Gorriti 5870; 54-11-4776-7677; prix fix, with champagne, 27 to 39 pesos) has become a mainstay of expatriates, filmmakers and wealthy Argentines by offering two Buenos Aires rarities: brunch and ethnic food. The décor is pure Scandinavia, with curvy plywood furniture and 60 types of vodkas. Dishes include herring and smoked salmon with Argentine bondiola (pork tenderloin). Call ahead to get an outdoor table on the heated deck, or on the couches around the fireplace (avoid the frenetic tables near the kitchen). In a concession to Argentines’ overheated night life, brunch goes on until 8 p.m.

36 Hours in Buenos Aires: The Basics

Many major American and Latin American airlines fly to Ezeiza International Airport near Buenos Aires from Kennedy Airport in New York. A recent Web search showed round-trip fares starting at around $900. The 20-mile taxi ride to the city’s center runs about 60 pesos.

The Art Hotel (Azcuenaga 1268; 54-11-4821-4744; www.arthotel.com.ar), opened in 2004, was among the city’s first boutique hotels. The 36 rooms are housed above an art gallery in exclusive Recoleta. Room rates, quoted in United States dollars, start at $65.

The Scandinavian-style Home Hotel (Honduras 5860; 54-11-4778-1008;www.homebuenosaires.com) has become a de rigueur stop for the Wallpaper* magazine set and the place where the rock groups U2 and Franz Ferdinand held concert after-parties. On summer Fridays, Tom Rixton, a co-owner and English record producer, spins what he calls “stupid party music for girls to dance to.” The 18 rooms start at $115.

Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt Buenos Aires (Avenida Alvear 1661; 54-11-5171-1234;www.buenosaires.park.hyatt.com), opened in July 2006, has 164 rooms split between the renovated 1934 Duhau family mansion and a recent wing. Rooms start at around $370.

Source: New York Times