Lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Since May 2008
50-64 year old male
Tango dancing barrister from England. Discerning traveller looking for something different away from the main-stream. Note: I tend to review what I like, rather than what I don't - hence largely positive contributions. That said, I never forgo the critical eye.
Lessons & Workshops
Architectural Buildings, Gift & Speciality Shops
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Monuments & Statues, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Flea & Street Markets
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Dance Clubs & Discos
Walk to San Telmo Market, turning into Carlos Calvo 471. There, nestling under the side of the market, is Nuestra Parilla (otherwise known after it's owner as 'Lo de Freddy'). For this special gastronomic experience it is necessary to be unconditionally hungry and dressed down for street food. Freddy's is not a restaurant, but simply a small incision in the market wall containing six high stools, a shelf, and some of the best cooked beef, pork steaks, and pork sausages in the capital. Our options, with prices from 25 to 60 pesos, were choripán - chorizo sausage sandwich, morcipán - blood sausage sandwich, bondiola - pork shoulder, or matambre - beef flank steak. We chose the latter, wrapped in crusty white bread, covered in red chimichurri or green garlic and onion sauce, and washed down with a litre of pale Palermo - a light Argentine beer. Sitting at the shelf with our perfectly cooked hunks of meat, it is easy to see why the word 'matambre' derives from the words 'kill hunger'. To our side, the wall is covered with slips of paper, 'postits' and signed photographs of visitors and patrons. It seems that the whole of the national football team have eaten here at some stage. Each message tells the story of a sated moment of complete satisfaction. Accompanying the food is the floor show, with portenos arriving, departing and simply calling by to chat with Freddy. So, should you find yourself at that point of hunger that requires urgent support - forget the restaurants: make for Freddy's, and enjoy one of Buenos Aires' most evocative gastronomic moments.
Whenever I come to Buenos Aires I just have to call in here. Yes, it is a simple parilla, but authentic, unhurried and friendly service with great meat at the right price. After one visit it feels like home.
Tonight we ventured to CHOCHÁN (Piedras 672). If you are fed up with steak and pizza, Chochan is the place for you! Clara y Vicky made us so welcome. Try the wonderful pork, peanut butter and carrot burger, with home-made bread and dips, and take a side order of sweet potato chips. Then ask yourself why you haven't been eating at CHOCHÁN before. Truly stupendous!
So, you are on a short trip to Buenos Aires and would like to learn to dance Argentine tango? Lucia and Gerry are the perfect tango hosts. Fluent in English, honest and charming, with a flair for making the task of learning tango really accessible, Lucia and Gerry are perfect teachers, taking the stress out of tango. Another massive benefit, never to be underestimated, is the way that they take care of you during your visit - milongas, shopping and the little problems that can crop up if you don't speak Castillano. It is like having two special and supportive friends in Buenos Aires. Highly recommended!
Parillas abound in San Telmo - we have visited many of them, and. El Desnivel is my favourite. It one of the older and more traditional parillas, serving excellent meat from a scrupulously well run kitchen. We had the fortune to be served bif de lomo followed by pancakes with dulce de leche by Hernan, who always makes eating there an occasion. The restaurant is much bigger than first appears, extending back from the street into several areas on two floors. Clientele is a mix between tourists and locals, many of whom are regulars. If you are seeking a really fun night out with some of the best steak in San Telmo, this is the place for you.
No visit to Buenos Aires can be complete without making a visit to the stupendous Ateneo bookshop in Av Santa Fé. For my visits, the books were 'props' rather than purpose, and the café was and excuse for tea rather than a reason. But this space is breathtaking. For this reason, you will need to take a friend. Enter from Ave Santa Fé blindfold and have your escort lead you to the lift immediately before the theatre entrance. Two floors brings you to the upper gallery. From the lift, walk forward to the balcony and remove the blindfold. Suddenly, below, and around you - a view of this exciting space that used to be a theatre. Restored with a combination of public grant and private investment, the theatre has lost little of its former charm, with the exception of the escalators that rise from lower ground level. After feasting on the view, descend the staircase and enter the auditorium, now the main bookshop floor. Pick up a book to read, and walk to the stage to take a table, or better, a sofa. Look to your right where the theatre's former stage control panels are interestingly still in place. It has to be said that café service at Ateneo is not why you are here - allow yourself an hour for a coffee and cake and inflated cheque - and do not think that you will ever catch the waiter's eye without standing on your chair. But your visit will be one of the highlights of your trip - you will forget the service, the cost of tea and even the books, remembering the moment when your first peeped over the upper circle and saw the view.
See and be seen in this fashionable café right in the heart of Recoletta
Historic and fascinating. You're in for a big surprise!
Good starting point for a trip - giving easy access to Calle Florida and lots of shopping!
Before parting, after an afternoon taking in the late sunshine, walking with tourists, talking in Castillano and shopping in San Telmo, on our way home my Argentine friend and I stopped by at Cafe Tortoni in Avenida de Mayo 825. She was keen to show me the cafe, one of the most famous landmarks here in Buenos Aires, and was amazed that I had survived for four months here without visiting this place. The small queue outside is nothing remarkable. In the Capital Federal, people will form an orderly queue for any excuse...waiting for a bus, at the supermarket, waiting to go into a shop where the door has been closed due to the numbers inside, waiting outside a cinema or theatre. Within moments the doorman ushers us inside. A table for two. This is a marble table in the centre of a very large saloon. The walls are panelled with dark wood and mirrors. All around are pictures and photographs of the glitterati who had dined there, including of course Carlos Gardel and Jorges Borges. This is a place for artists, intellectuals, writers, thinkers, talkers, people with money, people with aspirations and people with dreams. We are amongst the latter category, aspiring to be all of the former. Around us are seated many others taking tea and eating delicious cakes topped high with cream and fruit. They look at us casually, but carefully. To enter this place you have to have a purpose. Is he a celebrity? A famous writer? Maybe a politician? He is wearing a suit. He is helping her with her coat. He must be English and very tall for Buenos Aires - over 6'2" and she is Argentine, elegant and at least 5'10". My friend leans towards me, teasingly whispering as if addressing the group of women at a nearby table "Stop looking, he's mine!" The waiter is splendid and arrives unnecessarily with a menu. I know my friend's choice. Obvious from the moment we met when she asked hopefully "Are either of your parents Swiss or Belgian"? We order two submarinos and chocolate mouse to share. Submarinos are exactly what they sound. A tall glass of hot milk on a decorative saucer. Alongside an oblong object wrapped in cellophane. I follow her lead and unzip the envelope. Inside is a wonderful chocolate...it is, of course, in the shape of a submarine; it sinks slowly into the milk and diffuses. Five stirs later and a glass of hot chocolate is born. But the cake? Chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mouse, topped with chocolate, topped with cream. Two spoons. Two small glasses of sparkling water. Six minutes. Somewhere either above or beyond is the sound of a piano. Here, the sound of voices from every continent. Elegance, tea, pastries, glances, her fingers at the nape of his neck, their laughter, his newspaper, her book, and wafting between, the waiters carrying high above their heads trays with more delicacies to delight the afternoon. It is almost impossible not to get intoxicated by the atmosphere which has secured Cafe Tortoni's distinction since 1852. It is one of those unchanging places, neither changing from day to day nor year to year. Only the waiters and the portraits on the walls age. The rest drifts on a lost moment of elegance and sophistication which survived the economic crisis as it did numerous dictatorships and civic oppression. And for a moment, I am a part of it. Playing out a role as part of other's dreams, and dreaming myself.
A place of massive interest - food, antiques, people ....and coffee at Coffee Town
Coffee, a glass of wine or a beer and tango. Sit and soak up the atmosphere.
Simply the best coffee in Buenos Aires; served by friendly staff in an architectural delight.
Great parilla - enjoy your steak in this superb, traditional restaurant
With the excitement of El Affronte - a ten musician band, this has to be the place to see authentic tango.
We have just returned from a celebratory dinner at 'The New Brighton', just 40 metres from Calle Florida, the restaurant looking opulently into Calle Sarmiento. Attentive staff meet you at the door to take you to your chosen table. This was a Monday night, so the restaurant was fairly quiet. Dressed in mahogany and stained glass, formerly a haberdashery, along the long wall are the original cabinets formerly used to display fashions and silks. The mature male waiters in white coats compliment the period feel. Menus are in Castellano or English, mirroring a predominant English/American speaking clientele -especially those from visiting airlines. Whilst there are more 'exotic' dishes like goat, suckling pig and rabbit, you may wish to stay with the tried and tested parrilla. The lomo is perfect (210 pesos) with papas fritas (80 pesos) and Trumpeter Malbec (205 pesos). We avoided the starters, but indulged in postres, ending with a bill of 1770 pesos for four diners, (to include two bottles of Malbec). An aspect of the evening is quintessentially English, yet laminated to an essentially Porteño experience. It works in an 'old world' way within the new world of Buenos Aires. For quality of food and service, The New Brighton is excellent. Yes, it is a Buenos Aires experience, but maybe I am not quite ready for fine dining, preferring the vernacular corner parrilla - such as Rodriguez Peña Parrilla. However, you will certainly not be disappointed; if a special meal is what you seek, you will find that The New Brighton deserves its currently 12th place in TripAdvisor rated restaurants in the city.
Today it has rained. The huge clap of thunder this morning signalled a gorgeous downpour that cleaned the air and washed the streets. Only afterwards did the pair of blackbirds start to sing, and steam rose from the evaporating pavements. After a light lunch of avocado, bread and soft cheese - with home made chimichurri vinaigrette, I strolled out through San Telmo, crossing Av de Mayo at the centre of the city and turning right into Suipacha. There at 380 is Confiteria Ideal. The entrance is imposing in a lost century way. The cafe dates back to 1912 and is in the Parisian fashion of 'glittering splendour'. Manuel Rosendo Fernandez was its founder and his beautiful French wife was its inspiration. The tea room is on the ground floor, with marble, mirrors, wrought iron and dark wood panels. Between the tables, set with white starched cloths, is a sense of space - as if at any moment this place could evaporate in time like the earlier rain. It is faded elegance at its best. I do not linger at the ground level, but follow the turned marble staircase and music. Above is a large, airy salon, the floor again marble, surrounded by tables set with red cloths. The first impression for the Argentine tango dancer is that one has either come home or gone to heaven. There is a quality to the atmosphere which says, "You will leave this place but it will always be within you". My hosts are Rudi and Linde who have arrived early to dance and secured the best table with the support of the best waiter at the head of the room, where I join them. We embrace and sit together sipping chilled sparkling water. It is 3,00 pm and small handful of elegant dancers grace the floor for Diego Alvaro y Zoraida Fontclara’s afternoon milonga. I prepare to test my new dance shoes. For the cynical tangueros amongst you who may read this blog, I have to correct one thing. Despite the presence of tourists (now the life-blood of tango here in Buenos Aires), Confiteria Ideal is still unsurpassed as a venue for dancing. The floor is large, the room cooled by fans rather than chilled by air conditioning, and the music soft and lyrical. Here are exquisite dancers of all ages who take joy in dance. If your experience of Ideal is not of the best, visit on a Friday afternoon before mid April each year, and accept my cabeceo. Together we will weave the dream afresh to restore your faith in dancing in this place.