November 15, 2019
As crazy as it sounds, Buenos Aires is a great city for a long weekend….
Hear me out.
Same time zone and an overnight flight direct flight from Atlanta (which is usually pretty reasonable) means there is no jet lag or loss of sleep. Plus, our winter is their summer, and the weather is usually beautiful. But if you’re not crazy enough to go for a long weekend, spend some time in BA on your way to one of the many other incredible South America destinations, whether it’s Patagonia, Mendoza, Salta, or our recent trip to the Iguazu Falls and Uruguay.
We’ve probably been to Buenos Aires ten times and love that it feels both familiar and ever-changing. It has a great European vibe, with all the laid-back glory of South America. It’s a great city for walking: within its unique neighborhoods, visiting the markets, and wandering in and out of the unique shops (especially in the Palermo neighborhood). And once in a while you come across an impromptu sausage party in the street during your wanderings, which is never a bad thing.
But it’s even better for eating and drinking. See our recommendations below.
FOR THE ARGENTINE “STEAKHOUSE” EXPERIENCE:
The most touristy (and probably most recommended) are Don Julio, Don Carlos, and La Cabrera (all in Palermo-ish). Each one is good and a fun experience, but our favorites are more along the lines of La Carneceria (in Palermo) and Cabana Las Lilas in Puerto Madero (don’t miss the apple tarte tartin).
Most of the best restaurants (and the best walking around in general) are in the Palermo area. Proper is casual and great. Make sure to show about 10 minutes to 8:00, when it opens—they don’t take reservations. A few others include Bar Uriarte, with Argentine food from a clay oven, and Casa Cruz. Casa Cruz is really popular, so you will need a reservation. This last trip, we tried the hip new Nino Gordo, an Asian-Argentine fusion experience in Palermo that had, quite literally, the best steak sandwich on brioche in the history of the world.
There are lots of restaurants in the Recoleta, but only a few we actually loved—like BIS Restaurante by Gonzalo Aramburu. La Biela is a must for breakfast, lunch, or afternoon coffee, with its terrace café perfect for people-and-dog-watching.
If you have a chance, take in a tango show. The Faena hotel has a fun one and it’s a cool/funky hotel to have a drink beforehand. Again, you’ll have to have your concierge arrange reservations/tickets for you.
We’ve never found the “perfect” hotel in BA, but here are a few unique choices:
Jardin Escondido by Coppola: Small, with lots of unique common areas and outdoor space, including individual balconies that have a great garden-terrace feel
Legado Mitico: Also small, personalized, and unique
Home Hotel: A quirky, small boutique-hotel experience
In the Recoleta:
Alvear Palace: The well-known traditional big dog, often referred to as the best in town
Algodon Mansion: A great alternate to Alvear, also expensive and more luxury-focused
Hub Porteño: A tiny hotel (maybe 11 or 12 rooms), with a great rooftop and very personalized service
In Puerto Madero:
Faena: They were the first in this neighborhood close to the Women’s Bridge and across from the Cathedral. Puerto Madero has changed so much in 10 years that this is now a cool neighborhood for walking around. Faena has an outpost in Miami (as well as Sao Paulo and other locations). It’s best described as “unique,” but a swanky experience nonetheless. The BA original is getting a little tired, and might be best kept to a drink rather than a stay.
The Cemetery in Recoleta (go say hi to Eva Peron)
Walking across the Puente de la Mujer (Woman’s Bridge) between Puerto Madero and Plaza de Mayo with the Cathedral.
Wandering around Palermo and stopping at 1810 for empanadas. This neighborhood is filled with cool shops and crazy storefronts, and chic leather goods scattered throughout cafes and bars. It’s a great way to spend a sunny day.
Everyone will tell you to go to the Sunday markets in San Telmo. Take it or leave it. If you like wandering amidst stands selling a bunch of stuff you don’t need, take it.