Discover good food in Buenos Aires
Want to discover the heart of Buenos Aires? Eat like a local. There's good food everywhere.
Writer and poet Jorge Luis Borges praised his birth city in essays and poems. Since 2010 is the bicentennial of the city, it seems fitting to remember "The Mythical Founding of Buenos Aires." The last stanza is quoted often:Skip to next paragraph
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Hard to believe Buenos Aires had any beginning
I feel it to be as eternal as air and water.
It's hard to imagine Buenos Aires in the early years, when the area was covered by fields and crossed by creeks. Besides the enormous wealth generated from the fertile soil, the advent of railroads raised economic power. Prosperity drew wave after wave of immigrants from Europe. Buenos Aires soon became a city that rivaled major world capitals.
Today its 48 barrios are a collage of Old World architecture, heavily influenced by France and Spain. Every block is tightly packed – grandiose buildings share space with compact grocery stores. Cheese shops are as prolific as store windows displaying tango stilettos. You can't toss a French roll without hitting a bakery.
Despite their dress-to-the-nines-before-noon style, porteños (those who live here) are remarkably informal. Outgoing, too, and friendly to foreign visitors, especially those who try their hand at Spanish. A casual street-corner chat with a local might end up in a cafe, trading political views over espresso.
Most of the cafes are classic; all are crowded. Coffee and conversation are integral to the city's social life.
The two-tiered Café Impresso in the rear of El Ateneo Grand Bookstore (on Avenida de Santa Fe) is more than a trendy coffee spot; it's considered by many to be one of the world's grand cafes.
It was built as an opera house in 1919. Performances included appearances by legendary tango artists Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, and Ignacio Corsini. In 1929, the building was converted into a book and music store.
Where else can you sip cortado (espresso "cut" with warm milk) in a theater box, surrounded by marble columns and gold-leaf sconces as you leisurely thumb through a collection of Borges's poems and Argentine cookbooks?
As you sink down into a plush chair and nibble on a rich dessert, don't forget to look up. An impressive mural by Italian artist Nazareno Orlandi sprawls across the high ceiling.
Another in-the-rear venue, Notorious (on Avenida Callao) is a jazz-infused supper club tucked behind a CD store. Patrons sit up close to a wide variety of local and touring musicians, showcasing the city's diverse taste in music.
The cover charge is reasonable, as is a menu featuring gourmet sandwiches, salads, pastas, and desserts. "Porgy and Bess" is a rich cheesecake drizzled with white chocolate.
Buenos Aires's restaurants reflect the diversity of the city's origins: Italian, Spanish, French, Basque, Greek, and Armenian. Peruvian-style cuisine is a new trend.
Still, some chefs are reevaluating the meals they remember being served in their grandmother's kitchens and combining local dishes using fresh herbs and vegetables with Mediterranean- or Asian-style elements.