MaeBad’s Guide to Argentina | What To Do In Buenos Aires

I just returned from almost a month in Argentina and let me tell you, I have never had better empanadas and cafe con leche. Wow.

We spent the majority of our time in Buenos Aires, but we did fly to Cordoba for a wedding.ย (That was a beautifully historic town but I didn’t spend enough time outside of the resort — we stayed as Estancia La Paz — so I can’t do a full guide to Cordoba.)

So here’s a look at my favorite places in Buenos Aires!

S T A Y

PALERMO. Hands down. This is the prettiest, safest and trendiest area of Buenos Aires. It’s just the most beautiful barrio (neighborhood). Palermo is split into a few different areas – Soho, Hollywood and Viejo.

Most of the hotels and cafes are split between Palermo Soho and Palermo Hollywood. Everything is within walking distance. We ventured into Palermo Viejo and that is full of super cute and trendy shops! It has a very European feel. And the trees! Oh there are just the prettiest trees everywhere. And the tiles – even the sidewalks are made of beautiful tile.

Best Hotels

Be Hollywood and Let Sun Hotel are the best hotels in Palermo. They are located within minutes of each other and in the PERFECT spot in Palermo. You step out and into all the restaurants, cafes and shops.

E A T

Ok here’s the real deal about food in Argentina: it’s not that great. Now of course, it’s all relative. I can say that because I’ve had some incredible steaks in the US and even abroad. So while Argentina is known for their meat, you have to keep in mind that it’s still a third world country. The service is super slow everywhere, which means that 99.9% of the time, your food is going to arrive cold. And I do mean cold. Also, they don’t really season their food. At all. So we were constantly adding salt. It got to the point that we didn’t even take a bite without first piling on the salt. Now with all of that said, there are still plenty of really great restaurants. So get a steak and definitely add an empanada. Those were the best thing I ate during my entire stay in Argentina. The other thing is that they eat dinner really late in Argentina. Like I mean around 11pm! So keep that in mind as you’re planning your day — some places don’t even open until 8 or 9pm, although we didn’t really run into that problem in Palermo.

Steak Houses

La Cabrera – Their over 75k Instagram followers can’t be wrong. This little (and I do mean little) and quirky steak house is world famous. Anthony Bourdain even made a stop there. It was the only place we ate in Buenos Aires that had a wait (over 45 minutes) and they even opened a second location just down the street to help ease the burden of large crowds. The steak was delicious but the most fun part was alllll the accoutrements: potato salad, olives, creamed corn, pickled garlic, carrots, salad, the list goes on.

Campo Bravo – This quickly became my favorite spot. The lomo (filet mignon) was consistently good and actually the appropriate temperature. The atmosphere was vibrant and lively but still warm and intimate. They have the most beautiful rooftop deck. We had lunch outside with the perfect breeze and then we’d return for a late dinner under the twinkle lights. It was truly magical.

Coffee Shops / Bakeries

First of all, you must get a cafe con leche at every single coffee shop that you go to. Every single one. In theory, it’s just a coffee with milk but there is just something so freakin’ good about it. The milk is heated and the coffee is rich. You won’t be disappointed. Towards the end of our stay, I discovered cafe con crema. That’s a whole ‘nother level. Different coffee shops will do it differently, but most of them actually put a dollop of decadent cream in your coffee. OMG.

Most of the coffee shops (and restaurants really) will just leave you alone once you’re seated and have ordered. So we would just sit at coffee shops for hours, sipping delicious coffee, chatting and people watching. Buenos Aires has a very slow culture – it took some getting used to for me. I just wanted to grab a coffee and walk the streets with my to-go cup in hand. But in Buenos Aires, they take their time. They sit, enjoy their meal and the company. I quickly got on board and it was just so nice to slow down a bit.

Cafe Registrado – The coffee culture in Buenos Aires is fantastic and this place does not disappoint. First of all, it’s huge and the aesthetic is warm and modern. We first stopped by for a cafe con leche and a sparkling water and we ended up coming back a second time for brunch.

Almacen Bevant – We discovered this adorable coffee shop as we were walking around the Recoleta neighborhood of Buenos Aires. Grab a seat in the back and enjoy a leisurely coffee and pastry.

Despacho De Sabores –ย I was so surprised that the gluten-free trend is alive and well in Buenos Aires! Not only was it a staple on many of the menus I saw, but there were even dedicated bakeries. And everything we had was DELISH. At Despacho De Sabores, we got some kind of chocolate concoction and it was incredible. As always, I’ve got all the details and video over on my Instagram Stories Highlight titled Argentina.

Y’all, there’s one more place that I have to add to my list but I don’t know the name! It’s a little library around the corner from Be Hollywood hotel and there’s a cafe in the back and it is just LOVELY!! If you’re going to Buenos Aires and you read this, send me an email and I’ll type out walking directions for you. Haha! Seriously though – you can’t miss this place.

Brunch Spots

As I mentioned, you’ve got to remember that “good” is all relative in Buenos Aires. So while we didn’t find any brunch spots that were just swoon-worthy, it was all pretty good because the atmosphere more than makes up for the lackluster food.

Oui Oui – This was the first place that I tried eggs benedict and honestly it left a lot to be desired.ย I would suggest going with the standard ham and cheese croissant instead — that’s a staple in Argentinian fare. Also, you must get the Lemonana – a mixed drink of lemonade and mint. The only other place in the world that I’ve had this is Israel! I was so pleasantly surprised to find it on menus all over the Buenos Aires. The lemonana at Oui Oui was fantastic and was served in a gorgeous ceramic pitcher.

Bartola – I got the eggs benedict and as you can see, they were plated very well. But once again cold. Bartola has a super fun atmosphere though (as do most brunch spots in Palermo) — they had lively music playing and it was the perfect spot to relax and people watch. As I mentioned, the culture of the wait staff in Buenos Aires is very hands off. So no one is going to come check on you and it takes forever to get your bill. Bartola was no exception.

Jaguel – This place is so dreamy! Their outdoor seating / garden is beautiful and they have the most stunning fireplace! Step inside and you’ll see a massive grill and asado (bbq) with tons of beautiful, fresh grilled veggies and side dishes.

Figueroa Avenue – There’s another place that you must go for brunch / coffee but I can’t remember the name. (Am I offically the worst blogger ever!?) But! I have a little better directions for you than the library coffee shop ๐Ÿ˜‰ Go to the University of Buenos Aires Public Law School on Figueroa Ave and across the street is a red building labeled Mercedes Benz (random, I know) but there’s a cafe there right at the corner! Sit outside and have an affogado (coffee with ice cream) or a Lemonana. You’ll have a beautiful view of the law school and Figueroa Avenue with the beautiful purple flowers falling. (There’s a few clips on my Instagram Stories!) Figueroa Avenue is over 4 miles long so make sure you go to the part that’s across from the Law School. Here’s a photo from the Internet for reference — the law school is on the right and the shopping center with the cafe is the red building on the left.

G O ย + ย S E E

Recoleta – This barrio is known for housing lots of local artists, it’s also very posh and walkable. It has a Paris-like feel, with fountains in the middle of the street and former palaces. You can visit Eva Peron’s tomb inside Recoleta cemetery and there’s also the National Museum of Fine Arts.

MALBA – The Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires is fabulous! First of all, it’s on Figueroa Avenue which is beautiful to stroll down. It’s a small museum so we saw all the art in under an hour. But leave some time to sit in the cafe and enjoy a cafe con leche and maybe even a bite to eat. It has beautiful open windows and it’s just so relaxing!

San Telmo Mercado – Walk the streets on the weekend to shop local vendors selling lots of gifts and souvenirs as well as local art and antiques. It’s a bit touristy, but it’s worth spending a few hours walking around.

Frida Kahlo Mural – This is the most Instagram-worthy spot in Buenos Aires. Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist but she has a large presence in Buenos Aires. She’s known for a folk art style but she used it to explore questions of identity, gender, class and race in Mexican society.

Senor Tango – Another super touristy (but artsy) thing to do is go to a tango show. Most include a steak dinner (surprise, surprise….) as well. We heard from the locals that Seรฑor Tango is the most authentic and there’s even a couple live horses. The dance routines were incredible! Check out my Instagram Story highlight called Argentina to see a couple videos that I secretly took!

W O R K O U T

If you’re staying in Palermo, there’s an adorable cycling studio called RockCycle. It looks exactly like SoulCycle or FlyWheel inside and an added perk is the music is even better! Plus the classes are less than $10! Um, hello $40 at SoulCycle.

And finally, S O C C E R

I joked on Instagram Stories that I went to Argentina once and I came back a hardcore soccer fan. It’s so true though, the soccer culture there is contagious. It’s a way of life. Soccer means a lot to the people of Argentina and there’s a rich history. The two major teams in Buenos Aires are Boca and River Plate. Now I’m certainly not an expert, but from what I understand Boca is more of the working mans, blue-collar team and River Plate is from the more affluent parts of town.

I shared a bit of this on Instagram Stories, but let me tell you exactly what happened at my second-ever soccer game (the first one I attended was Macabi Haifa in Israel!) Grab a cup of coffee and get ready.

We found out that El Superclasico was going to be played while we were in Buenos Aires. I’m going to try to explain this with my very limited knowledge but basically Superclasico is one of the biggest and most important matches in the whole world — this particular match was especially important because it was the first time that the two teams playing each other in the South American final were both from Buenos Aires. And they’re huge rivals. The best analogy I can think of is that it’s like two state college football rivals playing each other in the Super Bowl. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. So we managed to score tickets (don’t even ask how that happened and how much we paid…) The first leg of the final had already been played at Boca the week before and ended in a tie. So now this was the final match and it was at River Plate stadium. We were told that it was actually dangerous for Boca fans to go to the game so if we were going to attend we would have to support River. So we got our gear and off we went. (One perk is that I got a super cute Adidas jacket out of this whole ordeal)

We arrived at the stadium 5 hours early, managed to get in after showing our tickets and passports 3 times, going through security and getting stuck in a couple of mobs. We finally sat in the stadium and I have to admit, that was fun! The energy was incredible! (Check out my Instagram Stories Highlight for videos!) We sat in the sun for 4 hours waiting for the game to start. The stadium started to fill up with 60,000 River fans & as the game got closer some ticket-holders were denied access because the stadium was packed and over capacity. The fans inside were chanting, singing and getting excited. The energy was insane. All of a sudden about an hour before gametime, there was an announcement that the game had been delayed by 1 hour. The fans sitting around us, who were our buddies by this point, found out via Twitter that there had been violence outside the stadium. Some River fans had thrown rocks at the Boca bus full of players as it was entering the stadium. Cops were using tear gas to break up the violent crowds and some Boca players were seriously injured. So we sat and waited some more. After another hour, it seemed the game was going to be played after all. They brought the game ball on to the field. They striped the stadium with white and red streamers. They chanted. Here we go!

Wrong. Another announcement. Another hour delay. Finally 2.5 hours after the game was supposed to start, they officially cancelled the game. Oh but there was no announcement about the cancellation — we all found out via Twitter. We were shocked but the locals didn’t seem to think it was totally unusual. This is Argentina, they said to us. As if we should just expect it. Our new friends said that we should wait before exiting because there was lots of violence outside the stadium. After a while, they said it was safe to leave so we started to walk out. As we were leaving the stadium and walking with the crowd, all of a sudden the crowd turned and started running towards us. Have you ever been in a stampede? It was scary. I saw a guy fall next to me and get trampled on. There were lots of injured people. This happened two more times as we tried to exit the stadium. So after getting stuck in the THIRD stampede, we decided to wait a bit longer. We finally left and that started a whole new adventure. We walked almost 3 miles on the side of the highway at night in the dark. You guys, it was like a movie. It’s so crazy to even type all of this out – I still can’t believe it. We ended up meeting a couple of other fans who had traveled from Uruguay for the game (one guy was from China!) and we walked together. We finally made it to safety – an apartment building. From there, we called an Uber and finally made it back home to Palermo! Haha – it seriously felt like HOME! We promptly marched ourselves to CampoBravo and had a steak under the dreamy twinkle lights! Much better ๐Ÿ™‚ So that’s the story of the time I tried to go to the most important game in all of soccer history and I survived 3 stampedes!

Even with all of that, I still really appreciate the history and culture around soccer. I understand their passion for the game, because for many that’s all they have. In a country that is so economically challenged, soccer is their only joy. Something they can believe in and truly love. So looking back, I’m glad I was able to experience the excitement of the game (even though the actual game wasn’t really played)

Oh and side note – a few days ย before the game, we went to La Bombonera which is Boca’s stadium to watch them practice. Since the Boca fans weren’t really allowed to go to the final game at River Plate stadium, they treated the practice as a game. It was FUN! But super intense. Again, watch my Instagram Stories Highlight titled Argentina for more.

So if you’re wondering what ever happened to the game that was rescheduled for the next day. Well, we decided for our own personal safety (and quite frankly comfort) we were not going to go back for the game. Also, we heard there was a chance that it wouldn’t even be played. And they were right. The game got cancelled again the next day. And you’ll never believe this: it got pushed back a few more weeks and MOVED TO SPAIN. You guys, they moved the game from Argentina to Spain! Isn’t that crazy? The intensity of the fans was just too much. The governing body of soccer thought it would be too risky to play in Buenos Aires. I’m telling you, they don’t mess around with soccer in South America.

So anyway, when you’re in Buenos Aires, you should try to catch a game and make sure to visit La Bombonera (Boca’s stadium) and The Monumental (River Plate’s stadium).

That’s it, y’all! My guide to Buenos Aires — everything I did, saw and ate while I was there.

Make sure to check out my Instagram Stories Highlight titled Argentina

for lots of video clips and behind-the-scenes of my trip!

I hope this is helpful for you! Have you been to Buenos Aires? Anything I missed? Let me know your favorite places!

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