I am back in Buenos Aires after a whole year! This time was special. Tarli visited me from Australia. And Jim and Marie from Fremont. It was their first time in Argentina. Hope you enjoy this post and can see Buenos Aires through the eyes of first time visitors.
Jim and Marie arrived on a Sunday at 11:00 am. There is no rest for the weary! They hit the ground running. I took them to San Telmo. Sunday is the day of the outdoor market or “Feria de San Telmo”. Defensa Avenue is lined with stalls. You can find most things Argentine and some extra! Lots of items with Mafalda, the cartoon character, a teenager, who takes on the country’s problems, social, economic and political. If only she were in power! Argentina would get the much needed reform. We did stop at Plaza de Mayo, the main square with La Casa Rosada, the administrative building for the city of Buenos Aires.
Pictured above is the Cabildo, the first town hall established centuries ago, and where all the plans were hatched for liberation from Spain.
After a quick walk around the square, we decided to head over to Defensa Avenue. This amazing cobblestone road is blocked to cars for about 20 blocks. Tourists and Argentines flock to the Feria de San Telmo every Sunday. Brazilians love to shop here so they fly in from neighboring Brazil. If you are wondering what language you are hearing, that sounds a bit like Spanish, but is incomprehensible – it’s Portuguese! That’s what they speak in Brazil. And even the dialect they speak is different from the Portuguese in Portugal.
We stopped at Casa del Dulce de Leche. Argentines love their Dulce de Leche – a kind of caramel sauce. We tried a variety. We also went into the actual Mercado de San Telmo. There is an actual market, full of shops and restaurants. There are a lot of antique shops here. Jim, Marie and I had a little break and had a nice lunch at Merci, a cute little bakery/cafe.
After lunch we kept walking and ended with the Cafe del Árbol at Plaza Dorrego. This iconic place has been around forever. It is a great place to get some coffee and medialunas (mini croissants). My friend Flor joined us there.
Next stop Don Julio, one of Buenos Aires’ iconic steakhouses. This was Latin America’s No.1 restaurant in 2020. There are always lines and there is always a wait. As far as reservations, tables are booked for the next 4 months. The food was great as always, and you can get a tour of the wine cellar which is quite impressive. They have quite a collection.
Also, they will explain the cuts of meat.
Pro Tip: Get there at 6:30 pm right before they open at 7:00 pm. Chances are you will be seated at 7:00 pm right away!
We had great drinks at these classic but very different bars in Palermo. Soria Bar is in the heart of Palermo, not far from Plaza Serrano and Desarmadero is on the outskirts and very low key. With good burgers and beer too.
Jim and Marie needed a Sube card to ride public transport. We had a hard time getting a Sube card. But whilst we were searching we stumbled upon a Flag Day celebration in Belgrano. It was quite nice. We also got a glimpse of China Town. We were in Belgrano because we would be taking the train to Tigre, the delta. It is quite a trek to get there.
Pro Tip: A Sube card will also get you a better deal on train rides. We took a train to Tigre that day. You can pay cash but it is double the cost.
We took the train to Tigre. It was about an hour long ride. There are several stops and the train was busy due to it being a “Feriado” or a public holiday. But it was nice to see people out and about.
The main attraction at Tigre is the delta. Buenos Aires has a huge delta and there are even several islands in the delta. Lots of people have country homes in the delta, giving them refuge from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. Especially during the hot summer months. So I took Jim and Marie on a boat ride along the rivers of the delta.
We walked over to the tourist booth at the station and bought tickets for a 90 minute boat ride. One of the first sites we saw was the Tigre Museum of Art. I had ridden my bike to that museum several times and it was nice to see it from a different vantage point. We would not have time to visit it when back (it’s a bit far to walk). We were more interested in the Puerto de Frutos which is a market with some decent food as well.
Once we got back we took a walk to Puerto de Frutos and just as we got there it started raining. We ducked into the first decent looking restaurant Parilla Cloe and we ordered a mixed meat platter. Nothing fancy, but it did the job for a tourist destination. On the way back to the train station we discovered a new ice cream chain called Volta. The Dulce de Leche ice cream, was divine!
This has to be my favorite restaurant in Palermo. This is not just food but an experience. Usually you wait in line for an hour or more. This is Armenian food in Buenos Aires. Who would have thought! Everything from dolmas to kababs to keppe! I went with Jim and Marie at about 9 pm and to my absolute shock we were seated right away. I felt as though we were robbed of the experience. Just kidding!
Pro Tip: They are also open for lunch. If you dislike waiting in line. Also we may have gotten lucky because it was a “feriado” or holiday.
I had the opportunity to check out the Cemetery of Recoleta with Jim and Marie. The last time I had been was in 2019. As usual it feels like a citadel. Some tombs are the size of houses! You have to wonder at the pomp and splendor of this cemetery. Argentina is going through some hard economic moments and this cemetery seems far removed from present day reality. There are several celebrities buried here. Most notable is Eva Perón, wife of former president Perón. I will spare you the politics, but let’s just say they are a controversial topic in Argentina. It is a nation divided when it comes to politics, fútbol and even religion these days. It took forever to legalize abortion and it was finally done a couple years ago.
There was this particular story about a Mrs. Carril, who would go about buying stuff on credit using her husband’s name (before credit cards) and she amassed a big bill. Her husband finally published something saying that he would not be responsible for anything she bought (how easier it is today to freeze a credit card!). Apparently they’re both buried here and after Mr. Carril’s death, Mrs. Carril asked that the sculpture of her (after her death) be such that their backs face each other. Even in death they could not be reconciled!
There are several noteworthy people buried in the cemetery and it’s definitely worth a visit. Look for Simon – he is an excellent English speaking guide at the cemetery and he was very patient and thorough. One of his attributes is that he asks to know a bit about the clients so that he can customize the tour to fits ones interests. After he knew I was a professor and taught, he made sure to show us the tomb of President Sarmiento who is known as the father of the Argentine education system. It is because of him that Argentina has such an adffordable, quality educational system. September 11th his death anniversary is commemorated as Teacher’s Day. Soon after Argentina decreed a free and secular education system. The Catholic Church was not happy. But this shows the sometimes progressive nature of this country. We are talking about the late 1800s.
After a tour of the Dead and Famous, we all needed a beer! We went across the street to Buller Brewery. Argentina has had an explosion of good craft beer, and Buller was no exception,
I had discovered this palace turned luxury hotel with my friend Leonardo a few years back. This maintains most of it’s original architectural features from the 1920s, when the Duhau family built this palace. The hotel features 2 restaurants, a bar and tea room as well as a spa. I wanted to take Jim and Marie to somewhere special. We had cocktails and a cheese platter at the bar and were not disappointed!
Yay! Tarli is here! She arrived in the evening after a long trip from Melbourne by way of Auckland and Santiago. It was Saturday night, so we were definitely not staying in and she is a trooper! First dinner – Emperador Meiji is one of my favorite restaurants in Buenos Aires. In Palermo Hollywood, right in the thick of things, this was a good way to introduce Buenos Aires to Tarli. We ordered some sushi and some dumplings and some breaded salmon. It all was divine! Highly recommend this place.
Right across the street from Emperador Meiji is Trova Bar, a very cool wine bar. They also have good beer on tap. We went over for one last drink. I was impressed with how well Tarli was doing despite the 13 hour time difference and the long flight. Tarli had her first Argentine Malbec and also some Cabernet Sauvignon. They held their own against the Cape Horn Winery just 10 km from her house in Victoria.
Some good coffee was warranted the next day, so I took Tarli to Lattente on Thames in Palermo. We walked around a bit and saw some of the newer murals put up since Argentina won the World Cup just a few months ago.
Tarli’s second day in Buenos Aires started out just right. After our morning coffee, Tarli and I went to my friend Flor’s home. Mariano, Flor’s cousin and Flor’s dad were preparing an authentic Asado lunch for Tarli and I. What an honor! It was really special and the food was so good!
Stadium of Argentinos Juniors
Everyone knows about Boca Juniors. Does anyone know who Argentinos Juniors are? It is indeed the first team that Diego Maradona played for! In fact it also goes by “Estadio Diego Armando Maradona”.
The stadium is in Paternal, not far from Chacarita. There are countless murals of Maradona and some of other Argentine soccer players. It was really cool that I had stumbled upon this stadium quite randomly one day walking to catch a “Colectivo” or bus from Flor’s place.
Plaza de Mayo
The next day Tarli and I headed to Plaza de Mayo. We started the sight-seeing off just right by heading straight to the center of the city. Here the country’s administrative, economic and religious branches meet. The three great buildings are:
La Casa Rosada
The Cabildo is a special building flanking Plaza de Mayo. It used to be the old town hall and center of Buenos Aires. This is where the discussions about independence happened and where the founders drafted the constitution and planned the fight for independence from the Spanish. It was the scene of the revolution of May 1810.
Next we went to Café Tortoni, an iconic cafe on Avenida de Mayo, one of the most important streets in Buenos Aires. It is also one of the “Bares Notables” of the city (Notable Bars).
We ventured into the heart of San Telmo taking Peru Avenue, crossing over to Bolivar Avenue and finding La Poesía on Chile Avenue. Another one of the “Bares Notables” this maintains the older furniture and the look from the 1800s. It’s a great place to get a “Merienda”. That is the word Argentines use for afternoon snack usually composed of “Medialunas” (croissants) and coffee. But all these cafe/bars also have alcoholic drinks. I got a beer while Tarli got a cappuccino.
Not far from La Poesia is the “Mercado de San Telmo”, the market I had taken Jim and Marie to. I wanted to show Tarli the market, the antiques and I wanted to get something to eat at Merci, inside the market but on the Carlos Calvo Avenue side. The market was quite calm, it being a weekday and we got some French onion soup which was quite good.
The last time I was at Don Julio’s with Jim and Marie, they were kind enough to book a table for Tarli and me for June 26th, despite no tables to reserve online all the way until September. That was really kind of them. Tarli and I showed up at 9:00 pm and zipped in to our table with complimentary champagne! Don Julio has exemplary service. It never disappoints. Once again the food was delicious and we got a real nice tour of the wine cellar.
Avenida 9 de Julio
On the way to Palacio Duhau, we walked by 9 de Julio Avenue, one of the widest roads in Latin America. It has 7 lanes on each side and has two more roads just parallel on each side.
It’s name honors Argentina’s Independence Day – the 9th of July, 1816.
The width of the avenue is pretty much a city block.
In this picture you can barely see the tall building in the back with the picture of Evita (Eva Peron) on the wall.
Line C of the metro follows the avenue for a bit and lines A, B, D and E have stations crossing it.
I took Tarli to Palacio Duhau. It was nice to visit the palace during the day. We could appreciate the garden in the back. It is now a Hyatt, but they’ve maintained the style of the original building. They have added a new wing to the back across the courtyard where they have more rooms, but the original front building has only 11 or 12 rooms. It truly is a very nice building and the interior is also lovely, with a reading room in addition to the bar, tearoom, two restaurants and spa.
A beautiful sunny day in Recoleta. We once again took the help of Simon, a really good English speaking guide at the cemetery.
Lo De Rita
This has got to be my favorite lunch special place in Buenos Aires. Typical Argentine food for a fraction of the cost, with wine and dessert/coffee included. I mostly get a Bife Chorizo or Milanesa. I have also tried their Raviolis and Calamari – delicious! But beware of one thing. Unlike most places this one closes for lunch at 2:30 pm sharp! Be sure to get there early. No exceptions. This time Tarli and I shared a Bife and a Milanesa. Was so good!
Found this place randomly, but afterwards my friend Leonardo confirmed that I had managed to stumble upon one of the best kept secrets in Recoleta. The rightmost picture is of the Italian Embassy where Leonardo used to work. Miss you Leo!
Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires
Always a great time at this museum. Tarli wanted to see this museum and only this one. And I was so happy because I almost always love the art there. There were a lot of contemporary pieces as well as some from the past. Check out the piece below with the different versions of the dollar! It’s not far from the truth. It really is wild how many exchange rates there are! I will never understand the exchange rates of this country.
Rey De Copas
Rey De Copas is a very cool place for cocktails, opposite Soria Bar. We started the night there.
Our second stop was at Growlers for Mundo Lingo where we met people from all over.
Our last stop was Desarmadero where Tarli was trying Fernet. It didn’t go as planned! I had to drink it!
Biking to Tigre
This was a big undertaking. It’s only a 50 mile round trip, but it’s completely urban with lots of twists and turns and uneven road. At times you are fighting colectivos (buses) and at times you are on bike lanes. There is quite a bit of scenery and many different routes to choose from.
Tarli and I started in Palermo. We found some bike lanes to take. There’s a nice bike lane on Gorriti that takes you down to Godoy Cruz. Then you head to Libertador from there. You get to cruise through a bit of the really nice part of Palermo. Take note, because once you leave Palermo, the sights and sounds will change completely. The river awaits and so does suburbia!
Ciudad Universitaria, UBA
First landmark of interest was the University City, a part of the University of Buenos Aires.
We hit the river at Vicente Lopez. We also stopped for a coffee and crepes. We were close to halfway there, at that point.
It was very cool to ride to Olivos on the way to Tigre. The weather was awesome and the view of the marina was just spellbinding.
Interesting sculptures along the river.
Tigre Museum Of Art
We rode into Tigre and went straight to the museum after having a nice lunch. It was getting late but we had lights. The Tigre Art Museum is a beautiful building and I had never been inside. But I was with an artist today and felt inspired. We locked our bikes outside and headed in. There were only 3 rooms open because of an event. But the upstairs terrace was open giving us amazing views of the river. The collection was nice but a bit sparse.
After checking out the museum Tarli and I decided to head back to Buenos Aires. We would take a slightly more direct route back, which would save us a bit of time, but that also meant dealing with a little more traffic.
We rode non-stop for an hour and took a break for coffee and medialunas at Van Wich in Olivos on Libertador. Someone got her coffee – all smiles!
Sorry folks. I say NO to Starbucks and Macca’s. Tarli is on my team. What a face! Well folks there you have it. 45 miles out and back. We survived. Our longest ride together yet. So happy.
The Night Market
We found a fantastic Asian spot in Palermo Hollywood called the Night Market. We were so hungry after our ride! Green curry, pad thai and some dumplings did the job. 5 stars for the Night Market.
A periodic table of ice-cream. Need I say more?
I think we were still hungry from yesterday’s ride! We took it easy in the morning, but went nearby for brunch. It was so good! Highly recommend this place in Palermo, not far from Don Julio. We also took a red velvet cake to go. Delectable.
My favorite go to steakhouse in Buenos Aires. Always good quality steak at a good price.
I have been going to Las Cabras for years.
It was nice to have Jim and Marie join us. A great night out!
Thanks to my friend Mariano and Flor’s cousin, we were invited to a tango competition. We were very lucky to have known about this as only the best dancers and their fans know about these events.
Thanks to my friend Raúl we were able to do a tour of La Boca among some other sites. It was part of an overall city tour and I can say with certainty that Raúl is one of the best guides there is. The place to see is Caminito. Here some of the houses of the first settlers have been preserved. It’s a very colorful neighborhood and worth a visit.
You can see caricatures of Maradona, Evita and Carlos Gardel. And of course, now Messi!
Possibly the best brunch spot in Buenos Aires. In neighboring Villa Crespo, lacking the hype of Palermo, this is a local favorite. They have combination brunches where you can choose a 3 course brunch. Usually a dish, eggs and desert. And it included a drink AND coffee. All for a price that won’t break the bank. A few doors down is “Area Futbol”. A shop that sells all things soccer. Tarli got an Argentina futból jersey!
We rode the colectivo back. Tarli is becoming quite the local!
La Paz Arriba
Finally Saturday night! Time for some partying! They were playing 80s music at this club and we just had to go! I wanted Tarli to experience Buenos Aires nightlife and this was the perfect place! We got there at about 11:00 pm and left about 2:30 am.
Pro Tip: Most clubs will be dead before 2:00 am. This place is a cultural center and has events, lessons and shows. That’s why it’s a good place to go if you don’t want to stay out until 6:00 am.
It was a lazy Sunday, after a night of staying out late. We got to Plaza de Mayo and had a coffee and facturas (pastries) at Pertutti.
We would need the caffeine and carbs as we would be walking the 20 blocks along the Feria de San Telmo. Defensa Avenue starts right at Plaza de Mayo.
We started walking along the market and I ended up buying a wallet. Even though I didn’t really need one. I did buy something useful – a leather passport holder. I chose some earrings for Tarli and she chose another pair for herself. It’s a great market. There are always things you might want to buy.
We popped into the Mercado de San Telmo for a coffee.
Bar Chin Chin
I used to come to this bar ever since 2017 when I stayed in San Telmo for 6 weeks. To my surprise one of the bartenders “Samurai” still works there. The place has changed owners a few times, but it still has the same character and the same quality of food and drinks.
It’s right by the Mercado de San Telmo on Estados Unidos, near Bolivar.
We went for a stroll around Puerto Madero and got see La Puente de La Mujer (The bridge of the woman).
Bar Cabildo de Buenos Aires
We walked all the way from Puerto Madero past Plaza de Mayo and to the corner of Peru and Hipólito Yrigoyen to Bar Cabildo. My Spanish school was just around the corner and I would come here for empanadas on my 15 minute break way back from 2015 to 2019. It was fun bringing all these first-timers to my old haunts.
Another one of the “Bares Notables”, this coffee shop holds a special meaning to me. It is where I first started blogging in 2019. I used to live 2 blocks from here. It was nice to be able to bring Tarli here. The breakfast was very good and very affordable. We had all this for the equivalent of $9.
Julio Cortázar is one of Argentina’s most famous writers and the cafe is nicely decorated with his pictures.
Parque El Rosedal
I wanted to eat at the cafe inside the Museo Sívori, but to my surprise it was no longer there. There was a new restaurant right next to it – Tómate Estación de Sabores. I had the risotto and it was one of the best I have ever had!
Centro Vasco Francés
This is hands down one of the best restaurants in Buenos Aires. It is part of a cultural center. The Basque French cultural center.
The seafood here is a must. I have had the best mussels and the best paella. It is in the center of town in the business district so you wouldn’t expect a restaurant here. But once you enter the building you realize you are in a special place. Tarli and I had the mussels and paella and we were very happy. We also got some desert which was also excellent.
I am so glad we found a shop with threads. Tarli wanted to check it out and take some yarn back to Australia. This was a cool shop on Scalabrini Ortiz.
The exact address is Scalabrini Ortiz 1027 in Palermo.
A very nice bar serving mainly Vermouth. Met up with my friend from Spanish school Julian. Julian used to teach for the school and do some of the excursions as a guide. Last time I saw Juilan was a year ago. We biked together in San Isidro.
This was Tarli’s last night in Buenos Aires. She would be leaving for Australia via Santiago. I would accompany her to Santiago. But I would be coming back to Buenos Aires after a week.
We chose Sarkis, one of my favorite restaurants, to give Tarli her send off. Flor and Sandra also got to say goodbye. I have had many a “despidida” (farewell) here.
I hope you enjoyed My Buenos Aires. It’s a special place and I feel very connected to it. I wanted to give Tarli, Jim and Marie as authentic of an experience as possible. I hope you as well can discover this incredible city and its people one day.