Argentina has long been a dream destination for me, and so in May 2011 my husband and I set off for a two week trip to Buenos Aires, combined with a few days in Montevideo and Colonia del Sacramento in neighbouring Uruguay, which I have described in a separate post. Here are 10 highlights from Buenos Aires.
(Corrientes 1368 y Uruguay). An old school pizza restaurant dating from 1932, this is always packed with loyal customers both young and old. Portions are extremely large, so order to share and don’t forget to try the fugazetta which comes overloaded with mozzarella and onions. We ate here three times during our stay in BA, it was that good
Afternoon tea at the Alvear Palace Hotel
(Alvear 1891 y Ayacucho, Recoleta). Book a table in the light and airy Jardin D’Hiver conservatory area for traditional afternoon tea, where wealthy ladies catch up on gossip. I loved the Alvear blend (black tea, almonds, Mediterranean citrus and rose petals) so much that I bought some from the nearby tea shop Tealosophy to take home with me. Also, rather than insisting that guests order one afternoon tea per person, the server recommended sharing one between the two of us. We still struggled to finish everything and had to leave some delicious cakes behind
After visiting a few traditional leather goods shops in the city, I decided that this company had the best quality classic designs. Known as the Hermès of Buenos Aires, Rossi y Caruso dates from 1868 and is extremely popular with visiting royals. We bought boots, handbags, suede jackets (two of everything) as well as small wallets and purses as gifts for the family. There is another smaller branch in the Galerías Pacífico mall but the Recoleta boutique is much nicer
(Las Heras at Plaza Italia, Palermo). BA’s Botanical Garden is quite run down and not as well maintained as others I’ve visited around the world (eg the one in Rio de Janeiro), but it’s a must if you’re a cat lover. This is where unwanted cats, including pedigree Bengals, are dumped by the city’s inhabitants. They’re fed and looked after by a local charity, treated by a vet and eventually rehomed. So you can come and play with them before deciding which one you’d like to take home with you. They’re mostly in very good condition and just in need of some affection. A ginger tomcat slept on my lap for 45 minutes while I sat on a park bench…
(Lafinur 2988 entre Gutierrez y Las Heras, Palermo). A great little museum housing all of Eva Peron’s belongings as well as her very special kitchen. It’s also home to a cafe/restaurant and terrace space which is popular with wealthy locals for brunch, lunch and dinner. We ate here twice, at lunch and dinner
One of the most magnificent cemeteries I’ve ever visited, both in terms of architectural design and sheer scale. On two visits we barely covered a third of the space, if that. We were also fortunate to go when it wasn’t busy, so we simply wandered around without a map or guide. Tracking down Eva Peron’s resting place was tricky even with the use of a map as she is buried under her family name Duarte. The stray cats that have made the cemetery their home are also a main attraction, although they’re not in as good condition as their counterparts at the Botanical Garden
(Posadas 1515 y Callao, Recoleta). One of the best places in BA for delicious fresh empanadas with a variety of fillings, including vegetarian ones. It’s always busy in this restaurant so go early or order to take out. For Recoleta in particular, the food is great value and the service friendly. We ate here twice during our stay in BA
Horse racing at the Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo
(Libertador 4100, entre Dorrego y Olleros). This is the top horse racecourse in Buenos Aires and even if you’re not into horse racing, this is a must visit destination. Entry is free and you’ll see locals from all walks of life having a good time. Finding the right days when races are on can be tricky, so do your research before the journey (take a taxi as it’s not really that accessible by public transport). We went for a few hours one Monday evening and got to stroke a winning horse as well as pose for photos with it and the jockey. Definitely recommended as a fun night out
(Santa Fe 1860 entre Callao y Riobamba). Dating from 1912 and located in the magnificent Grand Splendid Theatre in Recoleta, this is widely recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful bookshops. Even if you’re not planning to buy any books while in BA, it’s certainly worth a visit. You can browse through books in the old theatre boxes and relax over coffee and cake in the cafe on the former stage. Then have lunch at nearby Clasica y Moderna (Callao 892 y Cordoba), a restaurant located in an old bookshop dating from 1938, and is one of the city’s protected café notables. It offers good value set lunch menus, and there are events to accompany dinner in the evenings, including classical music, literary readings and plays
Mercado de San Telmo
(Defensa 961 or Bolivar 998 y Carlos Calvo, San Telmo). This is a huge indoor market inside an ornate building dating from 1897 (by the architect who designed Recoleta Cemetery). Here you’ll find a mixture of butchers, cheese shops, fruit and vegetable sellers, antique and bric-a-brac shops. Have lunch afterwards at La Poesia (Chile 502 y Bolivar), Gran Parilla del Plata – (Chile 594 y Peru) or El Desnivel (Defensa 855 entre Indepenencia y Estados Unidos)
Thanks for reading!
Helen Yuet Ling Pang