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La Poesía – A Great Place to Read, Drink and Relax

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Classic: Read some Borges at La Poesía

With its shelves stacked with books, soda bottles and photographs from years past, La Poesía is a bar beautiful enough to truly deserve its name.

La Poesia

The café was originally opened in 1982, to celebrate the end of the military dictatorship and provide a place for Buenos Aires’ intellectuals, authors and poets to congregate and discuss their renascent democracy. It was immediately popular, especially known for its sessions of Poesía Lunfarda, but the bar was closed after just six years. In 2008, the same couple who own Bar Federal restored the Poseía to life and helped reestablish it as a staple of the San Telmo scene.

I was in the place all the time, usually with a book. It has an atmosphere conducive to reading, with tango music playing softly in the background and a good selection of drinks. Unfortunately, the wait staff isn’t always the friendliest. One girl in particular always greeted my arrival with a frown and an attitude; I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I’d done to her. And once, a waitress directed me to a table with a power outlet, watched me set up my computer, provided me with the Wifi code, then took my order. The internet didn’t work and when I pointed that out, she was like, “Yeah. It’s been out all day”. But, couldn’t you tell I wanted to use it? I even asked you for the access key! “Yeah. Well, you never asked me if the internet worked“.

Regardless of the occasionally brusque service, there’s plenty to enjoy at La Poesía. Leave your computer at home, and take a book. A book of poetry, if you must.

La Poesía
Chile 502
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Coffee Culture

Bar Notable
Books Poesia
Cooking Cook
Facturas Buenos Aires
Salami Buenos Aires
Side Eye
Malinesa Sandwich Poesia
Cafe Con Leche
Hotels San Telmo
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May 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm Comments (2)

Punta Brasas – Not Bad in a Pinch!

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Grilling the Argentine Way

It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were stomping angrily around Palermo Hollywood looking for a place to eat. The restaurant we had wanted to go to was closed, and we had no backup plan. One of the bad things about eating in Buenos Aires is that restaurants have irregular schedules… Mondays, Sunday afternoons, Tuesday nights, closed. Advance research is always a smart idea. But one of the good things is that there’s usually another great option around the corner, regardless of where you are.

White Wine

Before we even got two blocks away, we encountered Punta Brasas on Bonpland and Honduras. We grabbed a spot on the upstairs terrace, and sat down for an excellent meal. I had a Caeser salad, and Jürgen ate stuffed chicken. The service was good — our waitress was there when we needed her, but stayed out of our way generally — and the prices were fair. Sitting in the sun with a bottle of white wine cooling in a bucket, and great food in front of us, it was difficult to be anything but happy.

But we almost didn’t go! It was a typically porteño scene: as we were approaching Punta Brasas, the door girl approached us on the sidewalk. “Looking food? Come in! So nice!” This is such a turn off. Even though we had planned on going there anyway, we almost turned around out of principle. Why do so many restaurants around the city employ this pushy tactic? Does anyone actually ever say “okay”? If anything, I have to believe that it drives business away.

Puntas Brasas
Bonpland 1694
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Tel: 4776-2784
The Perfect Steak

Mozzarella Stick
Liquid Cheese
Meat Roll
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May 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm Comments (0)

The International Book Fair

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Books for only 1 Dollar

One of the world’s biggest book fairs takes place in Buenos Aires. We visited the 37th annual Festival Internacional del Libro, which brought together a million readers and 500 publishers from over 50 countries.

International Book Fair Buenos Aires

Hundreds of stands selling books on every conceivable topic fill up the massive Sociedad Rural complex near Plaza Italia. Everything is in Spanish, but you can find any kind of book you’d want. We even found a stand from Bolivia, which would be our next destination, and picked up a couple of novels set there. Every year, the fair draws famous authors for conferences and workshops, and there are daily various concerts, book signings, activities for children, and countless other things to do. Entrance is $20 (US$5) per person, and worth every cent.

For logistical reasons, I’ve made the switch to an e-reader. I’m a fairly voracious reader, and lugging around books while we travel doesn’t make sense. Besides, our grandchildren will look at books the same way we look at vinyl records. Nostalgic and cool, but not the primary way they’ll ingest the printed word. Better to get with the times, I’ve reasoned, and actually, I find reading on a tablet pretty enjoyable. Still, finding myself in a convention hall, surrounded by tens of millions of dead-wood books made me happy. I could have spent all day there.

Feria del Libro’s Official Website
Location of the Sociedad Rural on our Buenos Aires Map
Buenos Aires Books

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May 3, 2011 at 1:48 pm Comments (4)

La Guia “T” – The Buenos Aires Bible

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Bus ride at night in Buenos Aires

It’s a book which should be within reach at all times. It’s studied and consulted, especially during times of trouble. Without it, this illuminating guide, this constant companion, life would be even more a struggle. And yes, I worship it. The Guia “T”.

Guia T

Honestly, when you get to Buenos Aires, you’ll want to pick up a Guia “T”. If you plan on taking the bus while here, the guide is indispensable, but it’s good to have in any case. A more thorough, useful map of the city doesn’t exist. One of the most common sights in Buenos Aires is a person with their nose buried in the Guia “T”.

I always had my well-thumbed copy with me, and should I have carelessly forgotten it at home, I’d go back to retrieve it, even if we were 10 minutes away. I don’t care. With the city broken into 36 quadrants, an exhaustive list of every street spread across 20 pages, and the routes of all 200+ city bus lines, this guide makes life much, much easier.

You can get them at any kiosk for about 10 pesos, and it’s the best money you can spend.

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May 2, 2011 at 9:11 pm Comment (1)

Abuela Pan – Bread and Healthy Eating, Granny-Style

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Vegetarian Cookbooks

Towards the end of our time in Buenos Aires, with too many great restaurants left to visit, we went on a binge. Parrillas, pizzerías, cafés, morning, noon and night. “Jürgen”, I said during our last meal, pork grease dripping repulsively off my chin. “This is getting disgusting. Tomorrow, let’s heat something healthy.” Abuela Pan, your time had come.

Abuela Pan San Telmo

A tiny restaurant on Calle Bolivar in San Telmo, Abuela Pan serves up wholesome, vegetarian lunches every day. There are just a few tables in the dining room, so it’s recommendable to show up early. In a city filled to the brim with beef and pizza, a healthy meat-free alternative is a breath of fresh air, and unsurprisingly, Abuela Pan fills up quick.

For $26 (US$6.50), you get a choice between three meals which differ daily. Abuela Pan prides itself on cooking without chemicals, trans-fats or frying. Their bread is freshly baked every day and prepared with organic flour. For my main course, I ordered raviolis filled with basil and mozzarella, and Jürgen got a rice-burger. The portions were large, everything was delicious, and we both felt pleasantly full afterwards. And we’d finally done something healthy for ourselves, which clearly justified a few more trips to the parrilla.

Even if you’re not in the mood for a whole meal, stop in for their wonderful fresh breads sold behind the counter. Loaves like theirs are difficult to find in Buenos Aires.

Abuela Pan
Bolivar 707
Tel: 4361-4936
Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Gaucho Stories

Bread Pan
Fresh Bread
Pumkin Spread
Veggie Ravioli
Veggie Burger
Man Reading Newspaper
Bistro Buenos Aires
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May 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm Comments (4)

Thinking About Buenos Aires

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Perfect Compact Camera for Traveling

Prisoner Buenos Aires

No, we’re not for 91 days in Guantanamo. That picture above was actually taken right from our apartment window! After making sure I got the picture, I found out that the hooded guy was just an art student working on a project. Phew. But I thought it was a good introduction to this latest batch of random pictures, which shows how different Buenos Aires can be, at different hours of the day. Even a window you’re totally familiar with can surprise you.

Mega Cool Dude
Art Deco Buenos Air
Continental Pizza
Buenos Aires Book
Claridge Buenos Aires Hotel
Egg Sandwich
Gran Flauta
Hanging Out Buenos Aires
Otto Wulff Buenos Aires
Michael Jackson Buenos Aires
Oh Deer
Glass Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires Bling
Super Mall
Silver Tubes
Reading News
Special Delivery
Super Woman Comic
Sun Cube
Molino Buenos Aires
Congresso Playground
Twig Lady
Fountain Happyness
The Thinker Buenos Aires
Night Sightseeing
Pink House
Casa Rosada
Roho Hair Salon
May 1, 2011 at 10:46 pm Comments (6)

The Eternauta

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His grim visage is all over Buenos Aires. The Eternauta is the hero of one of the most influential science fiction comics ever published, and certainly the most important comic in Argentina’s history. He’s also the most often employed graffiti motif in the city.

Eternauto Comic

I bought The Eternauta soon after we arrived in Buenos Aires. Originally published between 1957 and 1959 as a serial in the magazine Hora Cero Semanal, The Eternauta is a gripping 350-page account of humanity’s hopeless struggle against a superior invading alien force. Packed with action, drama, and rich in metaphor, it’s nearly impossible to put down. I read the whole thing in a matter of days.

The action unfolds in Buenos Aires as a strange snowfall suddenly descends upon the city. Juan Salvo, along with his friends and family, doesn’t need long to realize that something is horribly amiss. The snow flakes kill on contact, and the protagonists watch through the window in horror as the world dies: humans, animals, plants. Everything that comes in contact with even the smallest wisp of snow perishes.

Eternauta Cover

It’s the opening attack of an unstoppable alien invasion. Once Juan and his friends develop hermetically-sealed suits that protect them from the snow and give them the appearance of astronauts, the story builds into an ever-crescendoing spiral of danger and despair, until finally reaching its incredible conclusion. Throughout it all, against an omnipotent opponent and impossible odds, Juan and his fellows never lose their courage or determination. Better to die like a man, fighting to the bitter end.

That powerful message was co-opted by former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner, when he implored his countrymen to “be like the Eternauta” in the face of their struggles. Before long, graffiti of Kirchner’s face in the Eternauta’s suit began appearing on the streets of Buenos Aires.

Eternauta Manos

The Eternauta is a work rich in subtext and metaphore. The “Manos” are part of the invading force, who literally have their hands on the controls, tele-directing murderous robots. Their weakness is a deadly reaction to fear; when frightened, a gland bursts in their brains. But though they’re at work subjugating humanity, they’re only doing it because they’re afraid of their masters, the real villians of the book. The “Ellos” (“them”) stay hidden throughout the story, manipulating others into doing their dastardly bidding.

The political metaphors in these characters are rather pronounced. The “Ellos” were clearly the unseen military junta and the “Manos” were those in government and media who provided political cover, out of fear. Indeed, the meaning wasn’t lost on the real-life “Ellos” who ran Argentina in the 1970s. The author of The Eternauta, Héctor Germán Oesterheld, was among the many artists disappeared and murdered during the Dirty War.

The history is compelling, the plot is engaging, and the drawings by Francisco Solano López are gorgeous. Among the many reasons to pick up the Eternauta, the best is that it’s simply a fantastic comic.

Buy the Eternauta here

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May 1, 2011 at 9:36 pm Comments (3)

Going to the Movies – Buenos Aires Cinema Guide

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Visit our Movie Recommendation Site Criticker!

Buenos Aires has a booming film industry, so it’s unsurprising that there are a number of awesome cinemas in the city. Here are a few that we’ve visited during our time in the capital.

Movie Theater Buenos Aires
Teatro Premier

Showing a wide range of films from Europe, the US and Argentina, the Premier Theatre is one of the most classic cinemas in Buenos Aires. Found in the theater district on Av. Corrientes, the concave art-deco facade from 1944 is definitely a standout, with its laurel-bearing statues standing guard. When we visited, the facade was unfortunately covered by scaffolding and advertising, but no bother: the cheap tickets made up it.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
We saw: Baarìa

Cine Gaumont

Found on Plaza del Congreso, the Cine Gaumont is run by INCAA — the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts — and only shows newer Argentine movies. It was built just a couple years after the Premier, and enjoys a similar, classic feel. If you’re in the mood for a little Spanish practice, this is a great place to see the best films that Argentine cinema has to offer.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
We saw: Sin Retorno

Cinemark – Puerto Madero

Art-house, schmart-house, give me some Hollywood blockbusters! When you’re in that mood, you can head down to Puerto Madero for the modern Cinemark theater. Here, eight screens (including 3D) show brand new films in original language, with Spanish subtitles. They run a lot of specials; we took advantage of a 2 for 1 summer special, making the cost of entry about US $3.50 apiece. Not bad.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
We saw: True Grit


Smack dab in the middle of the theater district on Corrientes, the Lorca feels like the kind of cinema your groovy parents probably went to back in the 70s. Everything about this place screams retro, from the crazy brown color scheme to the carpets, and the somewhat outdated projector. Right next to the Uruguay Subte stop, the Lorca is easy to reach, and features new releases. Though, classic films like Shaft would feel more appropriate.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
We saw: Winter’s Bone

La Ventana Indiscreta

La Ventana Indiscreta Bar Cultural — named after the Spanish translation for Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window — is a cool little club which plays a single film a week, always something classic; always something that you should have seen as a self-respecting cinema geek, but haven’t yet. Even when movies aren’t being shown, it’s a cool bar to hang out in and, with the University of Cinema so nearby, always populated with hip young porteños.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
We saw: Le Beau Serge

Cine Lorca
Tetro Premier
Fancy Movie
Cine Art
Old Movie Theater
Movie Knights
Criticker Buenos Aires
Movie Kino
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May 1, 2011 at 8:32 pm Comments (2)

Bodegón El Obrero in La Boca

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Order Malbec Wines Online

Without a doubt, one of the most enjoyable meals we had in Buenos Aires was at El Obrero, a classic bodegón in La Boca.

Boca Fun Song

We went to El Obrero with friends on a warm Friday night, and had a blast from the moment we stepped inside. The place was a madhouse. Every table was full, with kids running between chairs, waiters zipping swiftly past, large Argentine families shouting at each other across long tables stacked with food. We took our seats and opened up the menu. The prices were out of this world, and we felt no compunction about ordering way too much. Calamari, mozzarella sticks, salmon, lomo. Everything was cooked perfectly, and we took our time with the meal, absorbing the atmosphere of the restaurant.

The waiter was friendly and attentive, a guitar player wandered around serenading tables, and there was a general buzz of merriment. We followed the example of the Argentines surrounding us, becoming gradually louder and more exuberant over the course of the evening, drinking wine and stuffing ourselves to the breaking point on the generous portions.

Found in a seedy section of La Boca, El Obrero isn’t the place to go for a fancy, buttoned-down evening with a new girl. But if incredible food and the boisterous atmosphere of a charming porteño bodega sound good, don’t pass it up. El Obrero is one of our very top picks in the city.

El Obrero
Agustín R. Caffarena 64
Location on our Google Map
Tel: 4362-9912
Yummy Dulce de Leche

Classic Restaurant La Boca
Soccer Boca Restaurant
Cheese Fest
Salmon Buenos Aires
Bife Lomo
Beef Fight
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May 1, 2011 at 5:36 pm Comments (2)

The MALBA – Museum of Latin American Art

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Modern Art

“Well, this sucks”. We had just arrived in Mataderos, hoping to partake in the fun of its Sunday fair, but rain had forced its cancellation. Moping over a pitcher of Quilmes, we mulled over our options. “We’re on the other side of the city, but how about we catch a bus and go to the MALBA?”


You don’t really realize how big Buenos Aires is until you take a bus from Mataderos to Palermo. That mother took two hours. But it was an entertaining ride and, by the time we arrived at the MALBA, the sun had come out and was gleaming off the magnificent building. Designed by young Argentine architects from Córdoba and financed with private funds, the MALBA opened its doors in 2001.

Even if there hadn’t been any art inside the MALBA, it would have been fun to wander around. But there was plenty of art. The permanent Constantini collection is comprehensive; it seemed like every major Latin American artist of the last couple centuries was represented. I’m no expert in the field, but recognized many of the names: Frida Kahlo, Xul Solar, Fernando Botero, Diego Rivera. The collection was laid out chronologically, and a couple interesting temporary exhibits rounded things out. The size of the museum was perfect; small enough to see comfortably in an hour.

We finished our afternoon on the terrace of the museum’s cafe. By now, there wasn’t a cloud left in the sky, and the canceled Feria de Mataderos and our marathon bus ride seemed like distant memories. Amazing how a good museum can so quickly take your mind off any troubles. MALBA is one of the few must-see museums in Buenos Aires.

Location on our Buenos Aires Map
Art Factory Hostel

Malba Arte
Malba Art
Frida Kahlo
Sexy Art
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April 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm Comments (3)

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La Poesa - A Great Place to Read, Drink and Relax
For 91 Days