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El Gato Negro

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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
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El Gato Negro
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Gato Negro
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March 18, 2011 at 10:09 pm Comment (1)

A Sneaky Exploration of the Teatro San Martín

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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
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March 12, 2011 at 11:55 pm Comment (1)
El Gato Negro
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