Weekend in Buenos Aires: Cool cafe hopping
Thursday, April 7, 2016
I can no longer count how many times I have been to Buenos Aires, for a day, for a week, for a month. The truth is the city never ceases to amaze me. Even coming from the bustling cultural life of Montevideo, Buenos Aires appears lively and full of fabulous things to do and places to see.
Last time I was there in 2015, I saw TERRENAL, arguably, one of the best Latin American theater plays ever written. Years ago, my visits always included an unforgettable Borges or Miró exhibit, a Smashing Pumpkins concert. Over the years, one of the things I have come to appreciate the most about BA is its culinary scene. Porteños (Buenos Aires people) love eating out. Even in times of economic uncertainty like now, under Mauricio Macri´s controversial presidency, the restaurants are always crowded, the art galleries and film premieres are burgeoning with local celebrities, there is always a fab concert to see, an incredible local band playing in a park, a festival. If you are looking for a city that doesn´t sleep, Buenos Aires is the place to be.
As I grow older and hit the disco less often in favor of gourmet restaurants and interesting conversations, I am always out to discover new hidden jewels, a perfect dish that one can have nowhere else, outstanding service, and simply, one of those places that you always wanna return to.
Last weekend, I was there for a wedding. A friend let me use her fab Palermo apartment, and my sejour consisted basically of cafe and restaurant hopping.
1st stop: Rock Photo Show
First stop was actually not a cafe but the Centro Cultural Sabato, where you can still see a photo show featuring some of Argentina´s top rock musicians. It was opening night and we know the photographer, Celeste Urreaga, so there were live bands and lots of fun, but perhaps the photos would be better appreciated with fewer people around. The show is called RETRATOS DEL ROCK. It was recently exhibited in Japan with great success.
Address: Presidente José Evaristo Uriburu 763
Dates: March 31st to April 30th, 2016
2nd stop: Breakfast at Oui Oui
Lovely ambiance, capuccino and salmon sandwich to die for. A real capuccino, with delicious, straight cocoa powder on top, one of the best I´ve ever had. The mix of cream cheese with Dijon mustard and the slices of avocado were made in heaven for my smoked salmon sandwich. While I was there, I overheard filmmakers talking to producers and actors talking to musicians. Palermo is where the production companies and the TV stations are, so, you will find a lot of that type of crowd. I was impressed to see people waiting for a table outside Oui Oui on a Saturday morning, but then again, it was totally worth it.
Address: Nicaragua 6068,
Insider´s tip: Go to the Oui Oui on the corner, it´s much nicer than the one mid-block.
3rd stop: Business Meeting & Snack at Le Pain Quotidien
This time around, I didn´t go much further than Palermo and Recoleta, two of BA´s poshest neighborhoods. In Recoleta, I had a meeting with a filmmaker I met at FIFE Festival in Rio last December. He suggested we meet at Le Pain Quotidien. We hadn´t had lunch and it was late in the afternoon, so, the Mediterranean appetizers we ordered were a godsend. The olive paste was unbelievable, the bread was heaven, every ingredient was organic, and it showed. It was just a perfect meal for two. The ginger lemonade (I asked to add peppermint) was also a delight. I loved the decor, it was quiet, just a very inviting place for a relaxed conversation. There were little cards on the tables that read, “don´t panic, it´s organic,” and we didn´t. If you love fresh, organic food, Le Pain Quotidien is an excellent choice for tea time or breakfast.
Adress: Posadas 1402,
Insider´s tip: If you just want an avocado and a fruit, this place can accommodate you too. Ideal for picky eaters.
4th stop: Have to try BA´s best tiramisú at Musetta Caffé
We ordered the burrata, which was lovely. Bruschettas are incredible, and the pasta is, of course, something else. Judging from my friend´s excitement, I am ordering the spaghetti next time. On a warm night, to sit outside Musetta in the residential neighborhood of Almagro is bliss. The place just has a great vibe, and, most importantly, the rumors are true: they do make the best tiramisú in town, but the torta capresse was incredible too. If you love chocolate, order that concoction. I know there was flour-less brownie and ice cream in it, but not much else. What I do know is you will not regret ordering it, not in a million years.
Adress: Billinghurst 894
Insider´s tip: Try to meet the owner; a lovely and lively Italian woman from the Southern town of Matera.
5th stop: Cocktails at Unico and local brewery samplers at Baum
Unico bar is a classic and, after saying hi to Borges at La Biela, a historic coffee shop in Recoleta (see picture) and enjoying great arugula pizza at Romario, which involved waiting a good 20 minutes for a table, we headed down there for cocktails. My sister loved her mojito. I can´t say that I tried any alcoholic beverage there, but I do have fond memories of great daiquiris I had there. I love sitting at the bar at Unico. It used to be a place to mingle more, but since they set out tables on the sidewalk, all the standing up action has subsided.
After Unico, we met some friends from London at Baum. Loved the long communal tables and the casual atmosphere. It made me miss some fab brews I had in Kentucky, but that´s another story.
Addresses: Unico bar Honduras 5604 Baum Honduras 5720
Insider´s tips: Go to Unico on a week day. It´s definitely the place to be if you want to party in BA on a Monday night. The honey beer is the winner at Baum. Lots of bars to hop around the area if you are so inclined.
6th stop: Art in Recoleta
This used to be my favorite thing to do some years back. Recoleta is full of great museums and galleries. The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes is home to works by Klee, Kandinsky, De Chirico, Modigliani, among numerous masters. Then, there is the charming Museo de Artes Decorativas with its lovely architecture and outdoor cafe, the Palais de Glace, which hosts excellent temporary exhibitions, and the MALBA, which is home to works by the top Latin American masters, but also hosts film screenings and avant garde, eclectic art shows. The MALBA´s cafe is also a delight.
We actually missed out on the museums this time around, but considering we had a wedding that lasted all day Thursday (a perfect wedding, may I add), visited several friends in their homes, and shopped for souvenirs for my nieces, I´d say we really made the best out of our weekend, wouldn´t you agree? Imagine all you can do in a week in Buenos Aires!
Bonus: Breakfast at Perica, Recoleta
Go on a sunny day, sit out at an outdoor table, select your favorite breakfast menu (I chose the eggs minus the bacon) and prepare to be amazed. Full, generous breakfast with delicious coffee or latte, toast, and freshly squeezed orange juice for 5-7 dollars. Perica is an American inspiration diner, but somehow, it is very porteño. Burgers are said to be great too.
Address: Av. del Libertador 2004
Insider´s tip: For breakfast, stick to the specials. If you order each item separately, it will end up being too much food, portions are huge.
Veronica Pamoukaghlian has been an enthusiastic traveler for over 20 years and a travel blogger at thewanderlife.com since 2010. She loves to travel for friends, for amazing food, and unforgettable experiences. Her favorite places in the world include Cabo Polonio, Uruguay; Havana, Greece, Sedona, Lisbon, Firenze, and Rio de Janeiro. Her 2016 travel plans include visiting the island of Crete for the first time, cool hunting in London, Lisbon, Ibiza, and finding the best cuisine around Paris.Read more at veronicapamoukaghlian.com