Cobblestoned streets, cathedrals on every Hausmann-inspired corner, wine bars and streetside patios … Buenos Aires has a distinctly French flair that captivates travelers from all corners of the globe. Just don’t call it the Paris of South America if you want to make friends here: the refined lifestyle and European architecture might resemble Paris on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find the city offers a unique flair that’s entirely its own.
Argentina is currently facing some tough times—labor unrest is on the rise and the peso’s depreciation continues as inflation has soared. But Buenos Aires is as alive as ever with alegría de vivir, which you can feel in its classic coffee shops, sensational restaurants and drinking dens stocked with innovative local wines.
Experiencing the capital city like a porteño—as locals of this bustling port city are called—is easy, if you know the neighborhood haunts worth adding to your itinerary.
The New Wine Review spoke with three food and wine insiders to get their take on how to do Buenos Aires the right way: Fernando Trocca, Argentinian-born chef and restaurateur, Franco Vitti, food and beverage director of the Park Tower Hotel, and Magalí Brandariz, chief concierge at Palacio Duhau-Park Hyatt Buenos Aires.
Read on for their tips on unpretentious hangs, extremely delicious eating and off-the-tourist track winners in one of the Western Hemisphere’s great cities.
Viti: “Oli Café, nestled in the trendy Palermo district, feels like stepping into a scene from Sex and the City. This charming cafe offers an array of coffee blends sourced from Colombia and Brazil and is known for its excellent avant-garde pastries. Among the delights, the baklava roll is an absolute must-try. The cafe’s interior design is beautiful, as well!”
Brandariz: “To start the day, have breakfast in Farinelli, on Arroyo Street. It’s one of the most beautiful streets in the city, with flower shops, cafes and art galleries. After breakfast, take a stroll down this enchanting street. And if you still feel like walking, continue on to Alvear Avenue, the city’s most elegant promenade, where you’ll find unique architectural jewels. These buildings, once home to Buenos Aires’s aristocratic families, represent the city’s golden times.”
Lunch & Afternoon
Trocca: “It’s a care for seasonality that excites me in Buenos Aires and El Preferido de Palermo, in particular, offers a great variety of dishes adapted from Buenos Aires cuisine.”
Viti: “I highly recommend a visit to Chui, nestled in the often-overlooked neighborhood of Villa Crespo, which is rapidly emerging as a gastronomic hub. What was once an old factory has now blossomed into a vegetarian restaurant, offering exquisite dishes. A standout is the Cabutia pumpkin ravioli with sage butter, hazelnuts and black truffle, capturing the essence of winter comfort. This dish is best accompanied by a glass of Zuccardi Aluvional Altamira Malbec 2018.”
Viti: “For a taste of New York City’s SoHo in Buenos Aires, I recommend exploring Palermo Viejo. This area is filled with the best designer shops and local businesses in Buenos Aires. One shop I particularly recommend is Lo de Joaquín Alberdi, a haven for wine enthusiasts. It boasts an extensive collection of Argentinian wines.”
Brandariz: “After lunch, stop by one of Cuervo Café’s locations to enjoy their unbeatable specialty coffee. Spend the afternoon getting lost in Palermo’s cobblestone streets, shopping in local designer and international brand stores.”
Dinner & Evening
Trocca: “Don Julio is the place to eat the best meat in Buenos Aires. Order the Ojo de Bife, with some of their seasonal vegetables like the sweet potato. You won’t regret it!”
Brandariz: “Nicky Harrison is a unique and upscale speakeasy, with a sushi restaurant where you can have dinner. Another option, for an authentic porteño experience, is El Preferido de Palermo. Founded in 1952, El Preferido used to be an almacén, a local family grocery store. It has since become one of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants, offering authentic Argentinean comfort food and embracing Buenos Aires’s spirit in the most original way.”
Viti: “The St. Regis Restaurant, located in Park Tower, is the perfect place to have a lovely dinner, accompanied by the stunning view of the city of Buenos Aires. The restaurant’s menu is based on superfoods, featuring the best local Argentine ingredients and adapting to the seasons. The wine selection features wines from Bodega Catena Zapata, Rutini Wines, Familia Zuccardi and Huentala. Among them, my favorite is Vistabla Corte C, a blend of the Bodega Vistabla with nodes of Valle de Uco.” [Vitti is the Food & Beverage Director at the Park Tower]
Viti: “For wine enthusiasts, I recommend Anhoita Cava, an extension of the Anchoita restaurant. This bar offers a laid-back ambiance with street-side tables, exuding a true neighborhood feel with an exceptional selection of offbeat wines.”
Viti: “Florería Bar Atlántico is a hidden gem, situated on Arroyo street amidst Parisian-esque early 20th-century mansions. Disguised above a flower shop, this secret haven is where renowned bartender Tato Giovannoni delivers some of the best signature cocktails in the region.”
Trocca: “Cochinchina is my favorite place to go. Beautiful design, great cocktails, and an energy that’s hard to describe. It’s signature Buenos Aires.”