Buenos Aires boasts a score of bares notables: old-fashioned café-bars where locals have been dropping in to drink coffee, read the paper, or sip a glass of wine for more than a century. Original wooden fixtures, mirrors with age spots, bow-tie-sporting waiters, and old world charm make these an essential stop on any trip to the Argentinean capital. Here are eight of the most beautiful.
Nell McShane Wulfhart is based in Uruguay, and writes about South America for Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nellmwulfhart.
Café Tortoni was opened in 1858 by a Frenchman and has a good claim to being the “oldest café in BA.” Over the years, many of the country’s most illustrious artists, journalists and musicians have passed through its doors.
Soaring ceilings, black-and-white tiled floors, and marble columns: there’s often a line for Saturday and Sunday afternoon tea at Las Violetas, an elegant institution. It was restored in 2001 and has hosted everyone from politicians to jockeys.
Less high-ceilinged grandeur here, La Perla is more brick walls, 19th century fixtures, and colorful signs painted in Art Nouveau style. Simple wooden tables and chairs spill outside in good weather (Av. Don Pedro de Mendoza 1899).
A richly decorated and sumptuous bar, Esquina Homero Manzi dates back to 1917, but was remodeled and now hosts a number of tango shows, ranging from the showy and flashy to the more subdued, less touristy numbers.
Another café-turned-tango venue, Café de los Angelitos does it all: coffees and snacks during the day, where you can linger over a book, and a splashy tango show at night along with a full dinner menu.
In the up and coming Boedo neighborhood, Café Margot is one of the few remaining bares notables to have escaped the hordes of tourists—reason enough to come here. Stop by for a leisurely morning coffee and a medialuna (croissant).
With a menu of aperitivos and cocktails long enough to tempt even a teetotaler, Britanico is the perfect place to come for a pre-dinner drink. Try the bitters that Argentineans love, or the classic Fernet-and-Coke combo (Av. Brasil 399).
One of the most casual of the historic bars, El Banderin is for sports fans—in particular, soccer fans. The walls are crowded with hundreds of club pennants and the clientele, mostly portly men over 50, look as if they, like the bar, haven’t changed in decades.