The beautiful Buenos Aires. What to eat, where to dance and what to wear


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South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires
November 19th 2014
Published: December 3rd 2014
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Believe everything you've heard about Buenos Aires and then double it. For me, Buenos Aires is the crown of South America. Some will feel I am being biased, since my husband was born and bred here, but I'm not and I invite those sceptics to go and see for themselves.

I am a city girl, who has lived in London for 9 years before embarking on our trip to South America, and Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the greatest cities on earth.

I was fortunate to see this great city through the eyes of a naïve tourist and through the eyes of a resident. I saw the good, the bad and the ugly. I see Buenos Aires as a mix between Paris and Barcelona (without the beach front location). The architecture is truly stunning and you'll be left with a sore neck from gazing at its beauty while pounding the electrifying streets. The buildings are decorated with Juliet balconies, there's an abundance of plazas and parks, the avenues are wide and the inner-city neighbourhood streets are lined with gorgeous leafy trees. If compared to many of the other South American cities, you wouldn't believe you were still on the same continent.

The nightlife is.....brilliantly exhausting. When you come from a city where you go out at 8pm and are generally tucked up in bed with a belly full of kebab by 3am, Buenos Aires wears you out. The norm is to grab a pizza or some empanadas with your amigos at around 9-10pm, washed down with cervezas. Next you crank it up with a couple of fernets con coca before heading to a bar at midnight and then to a club at 3am until the sun is well and truly up and you leave the establishment being met on the footpath by keen Sunday morning joggers.

Good places for a drink:

- Rio Café in Palermo. Address: Honduras 4772

- The Shanghai Dragon in Palermo. Address: Araoz 1199

- Sheldon in Palermo. Address: Honduras 4969

- Temple Bar in Palermo. Address: Costa Rica

- Peru Beach in San Isidro. Address Elcano 794 ( San Isidro is a northern neighbourhood - a great place to spend a warm, summers day)

If you like to party into the wee hours, check out the following clubs:

- Bahrein - Lavelle 345

- Rosebar - Honduras 5445

- Club Shampoo - Av Pres. Manual Quintana 362

- Tequila Av Rafael Obligado 6211

If you're a foodie, your taste buds won't be put into a spin with layers of spices and herbs, however you will get to experience the best beef in the universe accompanied with a glass of the oh-so-spectacular Malbec. Eating the best steak in the universe is for the Argentinians, what eating bread is for the French, an every day occurrence. While, of course, they appreciate the melt in the mouth quality, I believe the locals do not truly understand just how lucky they are. At home if I wanted to splash out on a good piece of beef to cook myself, I would have to pay over £20 and frankly it still wouldn't come close to the beef, or 'carne' as it's called in Spanish, you get in Argentina. While the Argentinian equivalent would cost around £4. I have met a couple of people who compare the Argentinian meat to the quality you get in Brazil. Well I'm sorry my friend but anyone who thinks that the Brazilian carne is even close to Argentinian carne is wrong, in my opinion.

When in Buenos Aires, or anywhere in Argentina for that matter, a visit or two to a traditional 'Parrilla' (grill house) is obligatory. This is where you will get to try fantastic meat of all varieties. It's part of their culture and huge tradition for families to get together on a Sunday and have an asado (BBQ) or to visit a parrillas. The good parrillas fill up fast so make sure you get in the queue early! I would strongly recommend visiting the following:

- Las Cabras in Palermo. Address: Fitz Roy 1795 esq. El Salvador. Try the giant sharing platter - you would be disappointed!

- El Gran Parasio in La Boca. Address: Garibaldi 1428

- Steaks by Luis in Palermo. Address: Reserve Loft, Malabia.

- El Nandu in San Isidro. Address: Elcano 648. If you aren't that hungry, split the befe de chorizo with a friend or loved one. There's definitely enough for two people.

Ordering the complete (mix) platter at any parrilla will give you a taste of all the great cuts of meat and sausages. Don't just zone in on steak every meal time.

If
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The mix plata at Las Cabras Parrilla - Fitz Roy 1795 esq. El Salvador
you've had your fill of red meat and want to try something else in Buenos Aires check out one of these fab restaurants:

Pizza: Buenos Aires is a city of Italian immigrants and you are never more than a stones throw from a pizza restaurant. Like all good cities, the pizza here ranges from delicious to disgusting. If you want to eat like a local, grab a pizza in one of the following reliable chains Bokano, Romario, Kentucky and La Continental. If you are looking for something more independent try: El Gurrin (Av Corrientes 1368), El Cuartito (Talcahuano 937) and Los Inmortales. If you have read other blogs regarding eating out in Buenos Aires then these three names will certainly be familiar to you. They are most definitely the three top pizza joints in the city.

Milanesa: This is another great favourite cuisine in Argentina. Milanesas are crumbed carne (beef) or pollo (chicken) served with fries and salad. Check out Club de la Milanesa for decent eats. Many restaurants (parrillas and pizza places included) also serve milanesas.

Tapas: Bernita in Palermo. Address: Uriarte 1610 (this is an amazing take on Tapas and I would urge anyone to
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The mix plata at Las Cabras Parrilla - Fitz Roy 1795 esq. El Salvador
try it)

French: A Nos Amours in Palermo. Address: Gorriti 4488 esq Araoz. The menu changes daily. The chef cooks whatever was available at the market! Beautiful concept.

Mexican: Real Revolucion in Palermo. Address: Honduras 5143

Thai: Koh Lanta in Palermo. Address: Gorritu 4647

While carne takes centre stage there are a couple of other culinary treats that anyone visiting Argentina must try;

- Empanadas: these little pastry treats, which resemble Cornish pasties, come with a variety of fillings and are generally available night and day. My in-laws will tell you I am totally addicted to them - and they would be right! Only buy the oven baked empanadas and try the carne first!

- Dulce de leche: even the name sets my teeth on edge and gets my mouth watering. It's similar to the toffee caramel stuff you get from boiling condensed milk. Try with toast, crackers or in a facturas.

- Facturas: the third meal of the Argentinian day. It's common place for Argentinians to eat four meals per day. Breakfast (usually a medialuna and coffee), lunch (always more than a sandwich), afternoon tea after work (facturas, cheese, crackers) and dinner
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Puerto Madero
at 9pm. Facturas are absolutely delicious sweet pastries that come in a variety of flavours, shapes and fillings. Make sure you bag a few at 5pm any day of the week.

- Alfajores: chocolate and biscuit sandwiches. One of the biggest brands is Havanas.

- Bonobon: also a product of Havanas and can be bought in most convenient stores.

- Salamin: similar to the Spanish 'chorizo' but a zillion times better. You will find this is supermarkets and delis. Serve with fresh bread and cheese.

- Chorizo / choripan: when in a parrilla (grill house) order a chorizo for starter, it's the Argentinian version of a sausage. A choripan is the chorizo in breads. Absolutely AMAZING!!

Although Argentinians are some of the most social people around, hitting bars and clubs until the early morning, they actually drink far less than you would imagine. There isn't a pub culture and drinking is usually accompanied with food. While you may see people sharing giant beers with a pizza, generally speaking, they won't be sat there all night getting "wasted". During my time in Buenos Aires never did I see any out of control drunk people starting fights
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Puerto Madero
or vomiting on the footpath. To be honest, it's almost frowned upon to get drunk. If you want to sample some of the local alcohol, the three most common drinks are; beer, red wine and fernet. The latter is an Italian herby, bitter digestive drunk immediately after meals in Italy but in Argentina they mix it with coke and drink it long. The locals swear it doesn't give you a hangover!

What you will see, however, is many people walking the streets hugging a hot water flask, holding a cup with a fancy metal straw and you may be wondering what these people are drinking. Well the answer is Mate. Mate is a herbal drink that is a staple part of Argentinian life and culture. Friends and family get together to drink this hot drink sharing the content of one cup between many people. Hot water is carried in the flask to replenish the drink whenever the content in the cup gets low. There's an art to making a good Mate and consider yourself 'accepted' if a group invites you to share their Mate with them. I quite like Mate but my husband doesn't - very un-Argentinian!

The
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Puerto Madero
coffee culture here is also strong and you can get a good coffee anywhere you are. When people are leaving their place of work they stop into one of the many coffee shops for a caffeine refill and factura. Like any cosmopolitan city, coffee shops here come in all shapes and size; from international chains, national chains, one-off stores and old school traditional coffee houses such as Café Tortoni on Avenida de Mayo 825.

The people of this beautiful county are bold, strong and creative. This is reflected in their fashion. The fashion is fun creative, original but bang on trend. People love to shop and do so right into the evenings (major shopping districts close at 9pm) and often begin with a coffee and factura to get those energy levels up before hitting the stores. You may notice a very distingtive shoe that las chicas wear. Whether its a boot, shoe, sandal or flip flop, the style is to have an extremely thick sole. Very chunky, punk, gothic style. There's also allot of print worn here - particularly leopard print.

For a reasonably small city, there are endless tourist and non tourist sites to keep you amused for a couple of weeks. The history in this mixing pot of a city is so rich and diverse that getting lost in museums is a great way to pass a day or two. The city centre has a fantastic subte (tube system) and the city buses are so cheap and cover every corner of the city that it would be a shame not to us them. Top highlights include; the Pink House, Congreso, Recoleta cemetery, Av. 9 de Julio, The Law University and Machanical Flower, San Telmo, La Boca, Palermo, Puerto Madero, Palermo Woods, Palermo Race Track and Polo Fields, San Isidro and generally walkng around the centre looking at the beautiful architecture.

If you are in Buenos Aires or planning a trip and want some help planning your stay, read my definitive guide to this gorgeous city that will leave you breathless with sore feet and scrambling for a taxi at 7 in the morning.


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Sunday shopping in San Telmo
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Sunday shopping in San Telmo


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