Buenos Aires Map
Site Index
Contact
Random
Our Travel Books
Advertising / Press

El Gato Negro

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Coffee Culture Books

Found on Calle Corrientes, El Gato Negro is one of Buenos Aires’ sixty Bar Notables, and an institution in the city. It was founded in 1926 by Victoriano López Robredo, a Spaniard who’d spent much of his life in Sri Lanka and wanted to bring his knowledge of teas to Buenos Aires.

Cafe Gato Negro

Today’s “Black Cat” is a bar, a restaurant, a café and, most noticeably, one of the city’s best places to buy spices from all over the world. The counter and bar area resemble a pharmacy, with hundreds of jars sporting labels like tomillo (thyme) or romero (rosemary). A huge range of loose teas and ground coffee supplement the lineup. Nasal Sensory Overload.

We sat down for a coffee before catching a show at the nearby Teatro Premier, and watched the immaculately dressed waiters tend to their clients. An older woman at the counter wanted some sort of yellowish powder from a jar gathering dust on the top shelf. Next to us, a nicely dressed gentleman sat in silence, absorbed in his newspaper, only occasionally raising his head to glance the shop around suspiciously. While setting down the cake and coffee, our waiter addressed us deferentially as “los señores”. I loved it.

The second floor is a dining area which occasionally hosts concerts, but we kept to the beautiful main floor. With its location smack in the middle of the Theater District and air of easy sophistication, the Gato Negro is the perfect place to sit down with your friends, adopt highfalutin accents, order an obscure Sri Lankan tea, and engage in pompous pseudo-intellectual discourse about whatever play you’ve just seen. “Really, old chum! The existentialist indulgences of the protagonist’s soliloquy were frankly overwrought. Garcon, [clap clap] a touch more ceylon, please!”

Corrientes, Av. 1669
Tel: 4374-1730
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Valencia Blog

Bar Notable
Waiting
El Gato Negro
Blue Kitchen
Gato Negro
Old Scale
Praising the Cakes
Spices
Coffee
, , , , , , , , , ,
March 18, 2011 at 10:09 pm Comment (1)

After One Month in Buenos Aires…

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Alright, it’s a little late, but we’ve been so busy in this crazy city that we totally forgot to do our traditional “After One Month” questionnaire. Buenos Aires is nothing if not distracting. Here are some of our thoughts about Buenos Aires, after having had time to become acclimated.

Most Memorable

Mike: On one of our first days, standing next to the obelisk on the Avenue 9 de Julio. A gigantic mega-street the width of an entire city block, with the craziest traffic I’ve ever seen. An appropriate introduction to Buenos Aires.

Jürgen: Our first night-time bus ride from Palermo back to San Telmo. I’ve never driven in such exhilarating public transportation. And I got a ton of great pictures during the ride!
Favorite Food

Mike: Almost too much to choose from, but I’ll go with the Fugazza pizza. Cheesy and incredible.

Jürgen: Thick, perfectly cooked lomo steaks, with dulce de leche for dessert!
Most Surprising

Mike: It sounds naive, but the level of poverty shocked me. We’ve seen entire families basically living in giant trash piles, right in the middle of the city.

Jürgen: You can be on Paseo Colón, with all its noise and traffic, but then walk 20 minutes to Costañera Sur and feel like you’re in the wildest nature. Today, I saw a wild turtle while jogging there.
Most Disappointing

Mike: Waiting in a huge 2-hour line for a Boca Juniors ticket, only to learn that tickets were restricted to club members. (And, of course, the hotels and tour operators who resell them for 4x the original price!)

Jürgen: None of the porteños we’ve met dance tango. And most of them laugh when we ask them. Too bad, that cultural aspect of Buenos Aires is lost on the younger generation… but understandable. I don’t wear lederhosen or do the Bavarian knee-slapping dance!
Funniest / Weirdest

Mike: I can’t get over the Vesre, reverse-talk. That’s just a total oddity; so interesting and fun.

Jürgen: When I say “thank you”, people say “no”. Took me awhile to understand that they mean “no problem”.
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)

Mike: 3. Almost everything is super-cheap, except for clothes… which I’ve found to be comparable to the US.

Jürgen: 4. Getting four cuts of incredible meat for 16 pesos is unbelievable.
People from Buenos Aires are…

Mike: … crazy drivers! And very, very good-looking.

Jürgen: … pretty patient when it comes to understanding my poor Spanish. Muy amable!
Buenos Aires in Three Words

Mike: Chaotic, Massive, Fascinating

Jürgen: Huge, Green, Loud

I’m sure that our opinions will change and evolve over the course of the next two months! We’re about to welcome a couple visitors from Germany, and it will be interesting to see if they share our opinions about BsAs. If you want, we’d love to know what your answers to these questions would be! Leave a comment with your thoughts!

March 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm Comments (6)

San Telmo’s Sunday Antiques Market

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

How to Buy and Sell Antiques

On any day of the week, San Telmo is the best spot in Buenos Aires to go antiques-hunting. Dealers hawk everything from chandeliers to ancient books in shops which blanket the neighborhood. But the Sunday antiques market in Plaza Dorrego has become a phenomenon; all San Telmo comes out to party along with thousands of visitors in a celebration of curbside capitalism.

San Telmo Market Fair

Walking around the antique vendors’ stalls in Plaza Dorrego is a treat, even if you’re not planning on purchasing anything. Old soda bottles, copper cookware, matecitos, vintage telephones and collector matchboxes are just some of the treasures on offer. The prices are fairly high, but the quality is top-notch. Because there are more antique dealers in San Telmo than stalls at the market, a weekly lottery determines who gets the right to set up shop. Organizers are strict about their rules, which dictate that all actually be antiques, and that the owners be physically present at the stands.

The antique dealers are confined to the plaza, but shopping continues for at least six blocks down Calle Defensa, where artisans and craft-workers hock on the curb to sell their wares. We’ve found a number of great gifts here, including a hand-crafted teddy bear for a niece and individually designed t-shirts. And the prices are so good, you’d feel guilty about haggling. Tango bands play on the corners, and everyone’s hanging out and talking, drinking mate and bumping into friends.

Proceedings become more festive as the sun goes down and a group of bongo-drummers begins to parade up and down Defensa, encouraging onlookers to join in. I must not have any Brazilian blood in me, because I’ll never understand the whole bongo thing. Anyone can play bongo drums, and sound somewhat competent. You don’t actually need dreadlocks. But it doesn’t matter that bongos are relatively ridiculous, because man do the girls love them! Once those rhythms start, control goes out the window. So, guys, if you really want to impress the ladies, forget nice clothes and expensive cologne. Just grab a bongo drum, skip the shower, and throw on a ratty Bob Marley t-shirt.

Meters from the makeshift parade, a popular milonga gets underway around 9pm in the plaza. With great music and an ample floor filled with dancers of all skill levels, it’s the perfect place to show off your tango moves.

Plaza Dorrego on our Buenos Aires Map
Great Hostels in Buenos Aires

Soda Bottles
House Numbers
Pink Phone
Pink Silver
Angel San Telmo
Antique Market
Hang Girl
Argentina Pharmacy
Argentinian Bull
Bombillas
Boxing Gloves
COCK Fight
Foxes
Match Boxes
Pillow Angel
Pots and Pans
Sugar Spoon
Watches
Wooden Shoe
Tango San Telmo
, , , , , , , , ,
March 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm Comments (6)

Hotel in San Telmo: Babel

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Buenos Aires Travel Guides

Hotel Babel

We walk down Calle Balcarce all the time, and have often noticed the colorful sign of Hotel Babel. After doing some research, I’ve decided this is the hotel that I would choose for a short stay in San Telmo. Not necessarily For 91 Days… for a longer stay, it’s better to rent an apartment!

Hotel Babel is perfectly located on a quiet street parallel to La Defensa (where San Telmo’s Sunday fair takes place) and just a few minutes away from Plaza Dorrego, the neighborhood’s heart. Many of BA’s main attractions can be reached by foot and the location is well communicated by bus lines, at the nearby Paseo Colón.

A short walk also takes you to Puerto Madero and Costañera Sur nature reserve… perfect to jog off the extra pounds you might gained while gorging yourself on steaks, pizza, pasta and that famous porteño ice cream.

And Hotel Babel receives an extra thumbs-up for letting pets stay free!

More info about the hotel:

  • 24 hour security
  • Free Wifi
  • 24 hour Bar and Room Service
  • Safety Deposit Boxes
  • Laundry Service
  • Airport Transfers (In/Out)

Link: Book Hotel Babel here
Location of Hotel Babel on our Buenos Aires Map

Babel Buenos Aires
Hotel San Telmo
, , , , , , , ,
March 16, 2011 at 8:30 pm Comment (1)

The Carlos Gardel Museum

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Listen to Carlos Gardel

After our great experience at El Querandí, we were all about tango. So the next day we decided to visit the Carlos Gardel Museum in Abasto. We showed up at the perfect time: a free tango class was just getting underway in the foyer of the museum. As we lumbered into the middle of the group, grinning from ear to ear and looking for pretty ladies, shrieks of terror echoed through the hall.

Carlos Gardel

Carlos Gardel is the indisputable king of tango, and his face can be found everywhere in Buenos Aires, from street art and advertising, to posters in restaurants. Gardel was born in Tolouse, France in 1890, but his mother immigrated to Argentina when he was three. As a muchacho, he studied music and worked in a theater, finding success in his twenties as part of a singing duo with José Razzano. In the 1920s, Gardel took a tour around the world, and caused a sensation in cities from New York to Barcelona. Razzano would eventually become his manager.

Gardel was blessed with a rich, deep voice, as well as a gift for songwriting; he wrote the music to most of his tangos. And because he was so handsome, he became a popular actor in Argentine cinema, like a turn-of-the-century Will Smith. His last film was Tango Bar, wrapped just before his untimely death at the age of 45, when he perished in a plane crash in Colombia. The decades since his death have only seen him grow in popularity, though. How beloved does he continue to be? Well, this out-of-focus video of one his most famous songs has over a million views on YouTube.

The Museo Carlos Gardel occupies the house he bought for his mother, in his childhood neighborhood of Abastos, and provides a good overview to the singer’s life with a lot of memorabilia from his career. Not very large, you can get through it in a half hour, and it costs just a peso. We zipped through the exhibits extra-quick, because we were eager to join in the free tango course.

For two hours, we practiced the basics in the museum’s shaded walkway. Amazingly, there were more guys than girls in the class, so Jürgen and I had to share a partner: cheers to the game Chilean girl whose feet we made a bloody, bruised mess of. By the end of the session, we were both able to do the basic steps. Money.

Museo Carlos Gardel’s Website
Jean Jaurés 735
Tel: 4964-2015
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Book your Buenos Aires Hostel Now!

Mi Buenos Aires
Carlos Gardel Fashion
Carlos Gardel Museum
Old Typewriter

Tango Buenos Aires

Carlos Gardel Record
El Tango en Broadway
Tango Classes
Tango Carlos Gardel
Carlos Art
Gardel Buenos Aires
Carlos Gardel
, , , , , , , , , , , ,
March 14, 2011 at 11:40 pm Comments (4)

Lunch at Caseros, Another Wonderful Find in San Telmo

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Our Travel Insurance: World Nomads

San Telmo is at no loss for great restaurants, and we recently stumbled upon another: Caseros, on the street of the same name, near Parque Lezama.

Lunch Buenos Aires

The restaurant is almost clinically white. While choosing our table, we noticed that even most of the guests were dressed in white. But a feeling of warmth reigns in Caseros, and we immediately felt at home. The walls of the bar and kitchen were painted to resemble a ramshackle storefront from decades ago, and baskets full of eggplants and fruit were set on each table. The light color scheme and huge windows allowing in the sun made for a cheerful place to have a meal.

The menu is small, which is something I always appreciate, and our food was excellent. I chose the fish, and Jürgen had an incredible plate of beef, served with chunks of onion, pumpkin and potato. The portions were generous, and we loved every bite. Caseros is famous for its lemonade so, even though it makes an odd dessert, we finished our meal with a glass. Freshly squeezed, and served with mint leaves. Excellent.

We went to Caseros on a rainy, mid-week afternoon, and it was packed. I asked the waiter if it was always so popular, and he responded in the affirmative. Little wonder: with friendly service, great food, good prices and a quiet location next to the park, Caseros is tough to beat for a relaxed lunch in San Telmo.

Caseros
Caseros 486
Tel: 4307-4729
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Pasta Recipe

Caseros
Veggie Buenos Aires
Restaurant San Telmo
Thinking About Wine
Making Lemonade
Home Made Lemonade
Waiter Buenos Aires
Butter
Enselada Buenos Aires
Great Restaurant Buenos Aires
Pescado Argentina
Perfect Steak
Cafe Solo
, , , , , ,
March 13, 2011 at 6:42 pm Comments (6)

A Sneaky Exploration of the Teatro San Martín

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

On Avenida Corrientes, one of Argentina’s most important theaters hides behind an inauspicious 1960s glass facade. If you weren’t looking for it, you’d probably walk past by the Teatro San Martín without giving it a second glance.

Vida Sueño

But an enormous artistic complex lurks inside. The Teatro San Martín comprises three stages, a cultural center with art exhibits and workshops, a small cinema and a gorgeous salon. A huge variety of performances takes place every week, from theater and dance, to concerts, movies and children’s activities. When we visited, the hallways were being used for a photo exhibit called “24 Hours in Buenos Aires”. The lobby contains both a bookstore and a café. In short, there’s art everywhere.

After finishing up with the photo exhibit, we continued up a flight of stairs to a large salon outfitted with retro furniture. There weren’t any signs saying we couldn’t go up there, but we felt like intruders, since the room was devoid of any other life. No visitors, no guards, no signs of any sort. We lounged on the plush couches for a bit, just because they were there, then took our intrusion game up a notch. The closed door down the hallway wasn’t locked, and after opening it, we found ourselves alone in the gorgeous Sala Martín Coronado, the largest of the Teatro’s three stages.

Last night, we returned to the Sala under more appropriate circumstances: to watch La Vida Es Sueño, by Pedro Calderon De La Barca, one of the most important works of Spanish-language theater. It was an incredible show, and our attention was held rapt throughout, despite understanding approximately 6% of the verse. Murder, attempted rape, deception, naked old kings and a lot of shouting in rhyme. At just $50 (US$12), it was a great bargain for an entertaining night.

Teatro San Martín
Corrientes 1530
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Buenos Aires Guide Books

Teatro San Martin
Tornado Buenos Aires
Waiting for the Show
Photo Exhibit Buenos Aires
Art Buenos Aires
Teatro Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Muebles Teatro San Martin
, , , , , , , ,
March 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm Comment (1)

The Carlos Thays Botanical Garden

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Read about Carlos Thays

The most striking aspect of the northern barrios (Retiro, Recoleta, Palermo), especially in comparison with their less affluent southern counterparts, is the number of beautiful parks and green spaces. One of the most remarkable is the Carlos Thays Botanical Garden in Palermo.

Explore Buenos Aires

Found near Plaza Italia, adjacent to the zoo, the Botanical Garden is triangular in shape, and home to more than 5000 species of plants. Entrance is free, and upon stepping foot inside, you start feel all the stress of the city slowly fading away. Cars and trucks zip loudly down the bordering avenues, so it’s not exactly silent, but the garden still imparts a sense of isolation and peace.

The garden is nothing if not diverse. Walking along the paths, you encounter a number of different landscaping schemes, from perfectly symmetrical to untended wild growth. Usually, there are signs which indicate the type of plant you’re looking at, and its country of origin. Long paths lead along fountains lined by statues, and around greenhouses, one of which was shipped over from Paris after 1889 World’s Fair. A healthy population of feral cats roams the grounds, keeping a careful eye on visitors, most of whom are porteños enjoying a short break. When we went, almost every bench was occupied by people drinking mate and reading.

Carlos Thays perhaps did more than anyone else to beautify Buenos Aires. Born in Paris in 1849, he was invited to the city at the age of 40 as an expert landscape artist, and immediately set about improving what he found. Thays was responsible for developing a number of new parks, and redesigning existing ones. In fact, almost every green space in the city has felt his influence, from the Centenario to San Telmo’s Parque Lezama. Thays promoted the planting of trees along city boulevards and demanded more walkways and public plazas. But the Botanical Garden was his pet project, for which he petitioned the city for years.

Buenos Aires is hectic. Even if you’re not going far, getting from one spot to the next can be exhausting. And amid the unceasing horns and the shouting, the smell of trash and never-ending drizzle from overhead air-conditioning units, it can also be enraging. But before you snap and go all Falling Down, grab a book and take a long walk through the Botanical Garden. If that doesn’t calm you down, then fine, you can go shoot people. You have our permission.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Botanic Garden Books

Botanico Buenos Aires
Botanic Garden Buenos Aires
Aloe Vera
Ass Naked Woman Buenos Aires
Blossom Fall
Buenos Aires Mysytery
Buenos Aires Blog
Carlos Thays
Cat Nap
Don't Cry For Me Argentina
Drunk Statue
Father Son Love
Flower Pattern
Forbidden Fruit
Gato Buenos Aires
Green House Buenos Aires
Jungle Argentina
Lady Mc Gee
Nipple Munch
Out Of Control
Plants Argentina
Pussy Paw
See Rosen
Schrooms
Strange Plants
Tropical Flower
Wise Cat
Yerba Mate
Yerba
Hotels Buenos Aires
, , , , , , , , , , , , ,
March 10, 2011 at 9:54 pm Comments (5)

El Querandí: Dinner and a Primer to the History of Tango

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Great Hostels in Buenos Aires

There are a few ways to experience tango while in Buenos Aires. Milongas are probably the most popular option, where people of all skill levels join in the dancing. And there are recitals with excellent music, usually no dancing, but possibly the most authentic. Or, you can choose the full-on tourist experience of the dinner show.

Sexy Tango

We arrived at El Querandí at 9:30, and were promptly served dinner: salads, empanadas, steak and wine. While eating and awaiting the show, we met our table companions. Everyone in the restaurant was a foreigner; German, American, French, Japanese. That would usually be a turn-off, but not tonight. The crowd was happy and energetic, and besdies, you wouldn’t go to El Querandí if you wanted to be surrounded by locals. The show is an overview of tango’s history! Hardly a lesson most Argentinians would need.

Once the lights went up, idle chatter with our new friends immediately stopped: our attention was entirely captured by the show. Two hours of top-notch dancing and singing, with incredible music performed by an odd quartet consisting of a piano, violin, bass and accordion. Some of our favorite moments in the show were actually just the band playing by itself.

The initial acts were set in the outskirts of Buenos Aires in the late 1800s, when roughly-dressed workers and the immigrant women who worked in brothels were inventing a new art form. The way it turns out… and I had really suspected as much… and perhaps especially when it’s performed by young, skilled and beautiful people… and, yes, perhaps especially when they are dressed as rough-n-tumble dock workers and prostitutes… well, the tango can be … let’s just call it “passionate”.

There was singing as well, with a tribute to Carlos Gardel who popularized tango both at home and around the world. As the show moved into modernity, when tango found acceptance among all walks of Argentine society, the sets became more professional and the dress more genteel. The grace and timing of the dancers was amazing, and there were a number of beautiful moments. The dancers struck a lot of classic poses, which was well-appreciated since photography was permitted during the show.

Fine, it’s not the most authentic way to experience tango in the city, but El Querandí provides a wonderful evening of food and music. And anyway, “most authentic” doesn’t necessarily mean “most enjoyable”. We were amazed at how well-staged the show was, and how much fun we had. If you’re looking for an entertaining evening out, and a solid tango show, you won’t be disappointed in El Querandí.

El Querandí’s Website
Peru 302
Tel: 11 5199 1770 (Reservations Necessary)
Location on our BsAs Map
Travel Insurance

Tango Cena
Tango Salad
Tango Steak
Tango Singer
Music Buenos Aires
Tango
Tango Argentina
Tango Dance
Tango Classes
, , , , , , , , , ,
March 10, 2011 at 12:50 am Comments (3)

El Sanjuanino – A Rustic Recoleta Escape

Add to Flipboard Magazine.

Parilla History Book

Immediately surrounding the Recoleta Cemetery, there are any number of restaurants with conspicuous English-language signs and inflated prices. Do yourself a favor and resist the bait. Instead, take a short five-minute walk to Restaurante El Sanjuanino on Calle Posadas, a classic in the area, with incredible food and excellent prices.

Argentinian Wine

We ate here shortly before visiting the cemetery, having done our research with the indispensable Guia Óleo: a popular restaurant guide for BsAs. I honestly doubt that better empanadas exist in the city. I doubt they could. There may be some just as good, but “better” isn’t possible. Emapanada-making, it seems, is an art that can be perfected.

In this well-bred, exclusive rincón of Buenos Aires, El Sanjuanino is an appreciated change of pace. It’s all wooden interiors, and you almost feel as though you’re visiting your grandparents out in the woods. There was a healthy mix of locals and tourists when we went, and the service was perfect: friendly but not hovering. Besides the flawless empanadas, freshly baked and enormous, we had homemade raviolis and matambre, a delicious rolled flank steak with vegetables and cheese. Locros and tamales are also favorites on the menu.

If you’re in the area and hungry for an excellent, filling and affordable lunch, El Sanjuanino has what you need.

El Sanjuanino’s Website
Posadas 1515
Tel: 4804-2909
Location on our Buenos Aires Map

Cozy Bar
Thinking of Wine
Cute Restaurant
Para Llevar
Empanadas
Raviolis Argentina
Rolled Flank Steak
Alfajor
, , , , , , , , , ,
March 9, 2011 at 9:20 pm Comments (13)

« Older PostsNewer Posts »

El Gato Negro
For 91 Days