Buenos Aires

1 Sep

It’s 5:30 PM. You are in Buenos Aires in the dead of winter. You need food, but mostly you need warmth. You stop into the nearest cafe and order some coffee and medialunas (little croissants) to warm you up and hold you off until your dinner at 10:30 PM.

NOTE: Usually I drink my coffee black. I like it strong. However, most times in Buenos Aires I needed to douse (yes, douse) my coffee with sugar/milk. This was just my opinion (and the opinion of my traveling companions), but the coffee in Buenos Aires was not our fav. We would probably recommend ordering a cafe con leche most of the time.

Or, you could always just drink mate, a traditional South American drink made from the dried leaves of yerba mate in hot water. My travel buddies and I even went to the Mate Museum in a small (abandoned, at least in the winter) yet beautiful river town called Tigre. The museum was more like an older man’s home displaying his collection of mate paraphernalia, but we paid our dues and went with it.

This was our lunch in Tigre. As you can see, there were not many other people around.
The Argentine schedule is quite different than the American one; or at least it was for us. Wake up around noon, lunch around 3 or 4 PM, maybe a cafe around 6, go back to the apartment for a rest, and dinner around 10:30 PM. Sometimes we would just cook our own dinner at the apartment. We christened our first night in Argentina with homemade spaghetti carbonara.

On other nights, we would go out for dinner. We tried the northwestern Argentine food like empanadas, a pastry filled with meat, cheese, beans, and/or vegetables, locro, a hominy-based stew with meats, sausages, and vegetables, and humitas, sort of like a tamale but more mushy and a tad sweeter.

Humita (from the restaurant in Palermo called “Las Choles”

One restaurant even had crayons at the table. We colored.

One of my favorite things about Buenos Aires was all of the live music. We frequented this one bar called Thelonious Bar. Live jazz almost every night. The bar had a warehouse feel to it with nice twinkle lights behind the band. I especially enjoyed how people both young and old came to hear the music and just hang out at the bar with a drink or a coffee.

Thelonious Bar
Another musical night was spent at la catedral, a milonga or a place where people go to tango. We went on an off-night, so there was not too much tango, however we did see some nice live music and we admired the funky artsy decor of the place. The food looked good, too (I saw a man eating a pizza and I was tempted to ask him for a bite, but don’t worry, I didn’t get up the nerve to ask him).
Music at la catedral
We also saw a local band play some Argentine folk music. They had rain-sticks, drums, and all sorts of great instruments. The band is called El Enjambre. And for a more crowded hippie-esque drum show, we went to the Bomba de Tiempo, a Monday night music show.

El Enjambre

And one night we met some really well-dressed Argentines who are also in a band (called “The Shortcuts“) at a pizza place called Kentucky.

Our lunches were very hit or miss. Most times we would just duck into the nearest restaurant whenever we felt hungry. We would stare at the menu, slightly hesitant and unsure…

…and most times we would end up with a meal like this:

Lomo con champignons y papas noisette

Heavy, creamy, fried. Good for a few bites, but it was just a little too much for me. Oh yes, and I must not forget the condiment of the trip: salsa golf. What the heck is salsa golf? Well, wikipedia has led me to believe that it is basically just mayo with a tomato based sauce similar to ketchup and possibly some other spices like paprika or turmeric. We mostly just played around with our golf sauce, but Matt from the blog MattBites really seemed to like salsa golf: check it.

Salsa golf model! 
So yes, many of our lunches were hit or miss. But sometimes we would dip into some neat cafes/restaurants and even if the food was just so so, the decor was an A+.

Actually, I have to say that my favorite lunch breaks were when we bought street food from a choripán cart. Choripán is basically grilled chorizo on a crusty roll with chimichurri sauce (garlic-based) or mustard.

We even tried blood sausage. WARNING: The photograph below was taken with a flash in a dark restaurant (which was actually a very good restaurant called Miranda). If the site of grisly blood sausage freaks you out, close your eyes and scroll further down the screen. If not, then here it is (with a Quilmes beer in the background):

On the final night of our stay in Buenos Aires, we decided to go all fancy pants and eat at Thymus, a French-inspired restaurant. Our meal was fantastic and it was extremely cheap compared to what we would have paid for a meal like this in the US. I really love it when restaurants give you bread and butter, with mounds of salt and pepper for dipping, too.

2 weeks in Buenos Aires was a lot of eating and I have only covered some of our many adventures in this post. I will say, though, that if you find yourself in Buenos Aires, you MUST go to Tierra Santa, the religious theme park that screams kitschy but is incredibly fun and full of animatronic shows of the birth of Jesus, the creation, the last supper, and Jesus’s resurrection. And you can pose behind cutouts of historical characters:

Traveling in Buenos Aires and Argentina in general during their winter can be pretty rough. Yes, you beat the crowds, but come prepared with warm clothes, especially in case you get stranded in the rain waiting for a taxi.

Ok, chau chicos! And don’t forget to eat dulce de leche until you can’t even look at it anymore!


One Response to “Buenos Aires”

  1. Anonymous September 2, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    >Great article Stephanie! I found Buenos Aires an incredible city! much better than what I expected. I read many Buenos Aires travel guides in order to how how to move or where to stay or eat in such a big city.

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