Visitors to Buenos Aires will immediately discover that café culture is an integral part of Argentine society, and while some porteños happily receive their daily caffeine injection from big-name chains, others will only settle for a coffee and dose of tradition from a bar notable. In Buenos Aires around 70 old-school cafés – living and breathing museums dressed up as eating and drinking establishments – fall under a government protection order, keeping them safe from the evil clutches of global enterprises.
Soy porteña. Well, not exactly – I am from Oklahoma. But what I am is a milonguera and my Argentina is late nights that spill into early mornings, the beauty of the tango embrace and lots and lots of Malbec. Buenos Aires is full of tango. Most tourists visiting the city only ever have access to smallest section, the part the city creates for them. The dancers in La Boca, the tango shows hawked by tour guides and hotel concierges. But Buenos Aires IS tango… there is so much more. And it’s way more complicated than it looks on stage.
It’s a well-known fact that some die-hard vegetarians have returned to the dark side after scenting the meaty whiff of a perfectly seared Argentine steak. Caught between righteous beliefs and the urge to just, try, a, little sliver of lomo (because you’re only in Argentina once, right?), many have fallen at the first hurdle when faced with a parrilla. But for those beef eaters who have no such qualms, how do you choose from the hundreds of steakhouses in Buenos Aires? Here’s our indispensable guide to steaks in the city.
Whether you’re a business luncher, a lady who lunches, a lucky lad of leisure or a late riser who needs to eat your hangover away, whatever your midday circumstance may be, Buenos Aires is heaving with lunch promo specials. Known locally as the menú del día (daily menu) or menus ejecutivos (executive menus), during weekdays restaurants are offering daily set menus, usually including a variation of a starter, main course, dessert and a drink. While many of these restaurants cost a hefty dinner price, lunchtime specials make for the ideal opportunity to visit new, tasty hot spots and eat like a king for a fraction of the price…
From its beginnings as a riverside settlement, to its present day status as one of the world’s largest cities 400 years later, Buenos Aires has fit an awful lot in. It’s been wealthy and glorious, it’s been battered and broke. Its life, as scientist Jared Diamond would say, has ben shaped by guns, germs and steel. Yet such is the city’s short, intense life, most of the influential buildings are still here to be seen and explored, the museums add essential detail, while the tombs of the country’s great, good and downright dastardly can still be seen in the great city of the dead: Recoleta Cemetery.
Organised by GAJO, a group of young Argentine chefs using local products to take their cuisine to a new level, Masticar was certainly the largest such event Buenos Aires has seen, with producers, food stands and wine tastings in abundance. Although no fixed date has been set for round two, now that summer is drawing to a close it can’t be far off. In the meantime, here’s the lowdown on where to get a farmers’ market experience in BA.
Granted, any walking tour of eateries requires an impressive predilection for gluttony and a stomach the size of which would, frankly, be a physiological anomaly. The eyes, as the idiom would suggest, are bigger than the tummy – and that’s exactly what this walking tour is: a feast for the eyes from which you can pick from a smorgasbord (a veritable All-You-Can-Eat buffet – a tenedor libre) whatever gastronomic delight takes your fancy.
Restaurateur, sommelier and consultant Aldo Graziani of Aldo’s Vinoteca fame talks to Andrew Catchpole about a life immersed in Argentinian wine. Q: What sparked your love of wine? Aldo: “In Argentina the wine culture is very old, you grow up with wine in your house every day…”
Buenos Aires and its porteño residents have never been a particularly disciplined lot, so the idea of sending visitors on a traditional sightseeing tour complete with an officious flag-bearing guide is wrong on all accounts. However, BA, as creative as it is, offers a whole host of alternative ways to see the city via its street art, boutiques, sacred grape and a photography workshop.
An Englishman, two American women and an Argentine of uncertain gender (their words, not mine) walk into a Buenos Aires bar… and take to the stage for a night of rip-roaring comedy and gags in English. That’s right, folks – the city that is home to the Tower of the English People and British-built railway tracks now hosts a weekly comedy night in the very same English language…