A city that rarely sits down for supper before 9 p.m. will never be a breakfast city: Chicago, say, has nothing to fear from Buenos Aires in this respect. Porteños are not like Gremlins; they can be safely fed after midnight. Just don't expect them to scoff anything more substantial than a milky coffee and medialuna (sugary croissant) the next morning.
But brunch? Now you're talking. In recent times, fashionable porteños have embraced this weekend hybrid as if to the manner born. Late risers and hangover victims are now just a short Sunday stroll from some scruffy-chic spot serving Huevos Benedictos, French toast with Patagonian berries, homemade granola, Bloody Marys, and strong coffee. Caveat emptors. First, portion sizes are small by North American and even European standards—you may need to double up to achieve your cholesterol and protein goals. Second, "bacon" is not bacon. It may be porky. It may even be tasty. But it won't be bacon.
If Sunday brunch in Buenos Aires has a spiritual home, it’s the winter garden at the Alvear Palace Hotel. Once your white-gloved waiter has seated you in an antique cane chair, you can plan your assault on the buffet, which is loaded with smoked salmon, venison and trout, imported cheeses, freshly baked breads, and pastries and puddings galore. A special treat.
You don’t have to be part of a big group of thirtysomething female professionals to enjoy brunch in this handsome café, but it will place you in the core demographic. Order a jug of minty lemonade, a chicken and guacamole wrap, some warm, crumbly fruit muffins and a pot of house-blend tea. Some of the city’s best cooking classes and networking events take place here.
Ditching the shabby-chic, what-we-found-in-granny’s-attic look all too common in BA cafés for a light-drenched, minimalist aesthetic, Farinelli is a gem. Young owner Marina Bissone curates a brunch menu packed with old favorites: Eggs Benedict, cheeseburger sliders with fries, waffles, French toast, pancakes with maple syrup, and more. Portions are deliberately small; expect to order several dishes.
If you only visit this stylish “homey-industrial” spot in Villa Crespo to try the lemonade, which tastes like it’s been cut with homemade ginger beer, you won’t have wasted your time. On Sundays, even-numbered parties tackle the brunch for two, a set menu which kicks off with good coffee and croissants and proceeds through granola, French toast, scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, and so on.
This trendy place in Villa Crespo (something of a destination neighborhood for brunch-philes, it seems) has a contemporary look and a classic menu. Couples order the Estrellado, a weekend set menu that includes two portions of everything, from hash browns to hot cakes. Only a schmo would consider the pastrami sandwich the real McCoy, but it’s damn good for Buenos Aires.