Buenos Aires-4
Argentina, Food & Drink, Travel Tips

Buenos Aires: A City That Aims To Please

Every traveler has a unique style they employ when exploring a new part of the world.

There are the DIY travelers–the ones who prefer getting to know a city without the help of guided tours or activities–perhaps on foot, local public transportation, or rented bicycle.  They may enjoy searching for bargains on hotels or hostels or opt for a self-prepared picnic lunch in the park over an opulent meal out.

There are the luxury travelers, the ones who search for the best of everything a city has to offer–the best restaurants with high-class ambiance and gorgeous city views, the best of local entertainment, the most accommodating and luxurious hotels.

There are the tourists...the people who find the most comfort in group tours that allow them to take photos of all the top attractions with little effort on their part aside from purchasing a travel package.

There are also, of course, the backpackers–we’re the ones who look for centrally-located budget accommodation, good food at reasonable prices, and the best places to party.

You may fall into one of these highly generalized categories, but much more likely you’re an eclectic mix of styles that makes you a unique traveler in your own right.  I like to consider myself a DIY backpacker with the occasional taste for luxury, but that’s neither here nor there.  The point is, in my humble opinion, Argentina’s capital city has something for just about everyone and can most likely satisfy even the most persnickety of world explorers.  Below, a list of highlights from this DIY-backpacker-with-a-taste-for-luxury’s whirlwind romance with the city that aims to please.

Food

Argentina is known worldwide for its amazing beef, and Buenos Aires offers it in spades; every cut, any way you like it cooked, grass-fed and juicy on your plate, accompanied by a local Malbec.  ¡Qué rrriiiiicooooo!

Enjoying a steak dinner, wine and champagne at La Cabrera, Buenos Aires

Enjoying a steak dinner, wine and champagne at La Cabrera

I sampled the goods at three restaurants which all came highly recommended to me:

Siga La Vaca

An all-you-can-eat parrilla (grill) located in the Puerto Madero area which offers an unbelievable selection of beef, pork, and chicken (or innards, if that’s your thing)–just walk up to the grill and point at what looks good, then try not to let your jaw hit the floor when you see the portion size they serve you–also included is an extensive cold salad bar, bread on your table, a bottle of wine per person (I kid you not) and dessert.  They EVEN zip-tie your purse to your chair so you needn’t worry about someone snatching it on one of your many trips back for more (a nice little touch, I thought).  It’s an enormous restaurant so reservations are not necessary, and the ambiance is classy enough to distract from the fact that you’re essentially eating meat by the shovel-full.  An overall excellent experience.  Price: 170 Argentine pesos.

Desnivel

Located in the adorable neighborhood of San Telmo, Desnivel is a highly-popular parrilla for reasons I personally failed to discover.  The white flourescent lighting, sparse decor, cramped tables and cacophony of noise rendering conversation nearly impossible left much to be desired.  I went with one other friend and we ended up ordering a carafe of house wine (easily the best value, the bottles were all very expensive) and a portion of stuffed steak to share.  It came served on a heaping platter surrounded by rather average french fries.  Considering that we paid more per person and got significantly less (and worse quality) food than Siga La Vaca, I was pretty disappointed.  Perhaps if I ever visit Buenos Aires again I’ll give this place another try, but this time around it was my least favorite dining experience.

La Cabrera

You won’t find a ‘Best of Buenos Aires’ list anywhere that doesn’t include La Cabrera, and for good reason.  If this Palermo Soho restaurant is packed when you arrive (as it usually is) they provide you with complimentary meats, cheeses and champagne while you wait.  The portions are enormous and perfectly cooked; the rib-eye I ordered was easily the best (albeit most expensive) steak I had in Argentina.  The smorgasbord of sides and sauces that are served alongside your main dish is a delightful addition.  Wine is not included here, but they offer a few affordable bottles so naturally we indulged (not to mention it was my last night in the city and, ya know, had to spend those pesos! 😉 ).  The complimentary glass of champagne provided at the end was the cherry on top of a perfect evening.  We each spent well over 200 pesos but it was well worth it–I’d recommend La Cabrera to anyone.  

But you don’t need to splurge at a fancy parrilla to get a great meal.  Many open-air markets serve up another local favorite, choripan (grilled sausage on a roll, kind of like a classier version of a hotdog).  We snagged a few of these bad boys and a cheeky glass of midday wine while wandering an antiques fair in San Telmo and were even treated to live music while we ate–all for 45 pesos.

Neighborhoods

Buenos Aires’s many unique neighborhoods are attractions in and of themselves.  San Telmo charms with a colonial feel, kitschy shops and pretty plazas. Puerto Madero is a great place to take a walk, do some quality people watching (apparently rollerblading is still a thing) and enjoy a glass of wine with a nice view of the port; Palermo has it all–coffee shops, bookstores, shopping, restaurants, and nightlife; La Boca is colorful (literally) and always buzzing with tourists looking for a tango show; and El Microcentro is a great jumping off point for first-timers to the city–many neighborhoods are walkable from here or easily accessible by subway or bus.

El Caminito in the neighborhood of La Boca, Buenos Aires

El Caminito in the neighborhood of La Boca

Attractions

El Cementerio de la Recoleta

This haunting city of the dead is far and away the most beautiful cemetery I’ve ever seen. It contains the graves–incredibly elaborate mausoleums, rather–of the Buenos Aires elite, including former presidents, Nobel Prize winners, and Eva Peron.

Cementerio de la Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Cementerio de la Recoleta

The Puerto Madero Waterfront

A beautiful place for an afternoon or evening stroll (on your way to Siga La Vaca, perhaps?).

Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art

Not so big that you’ll feel overwhelmed trying to see it all; houses a wide array of artistic mediums (sculpture, film, photography, etc).

Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art

Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art

Calle Defensa, San Telmo

On Sundays, this street is converted into a massive outdoor market.  Other days, you can enjoy the boutique shops, antique malls, and pubs without wading through thick crowds.

La Casa Rosada

In the US, we have the White House.  In Argentina, the Pink House.  La Casa Rosada is the executive mansion and office of the president of Argentina.  Open to the public, this is an essential stop for a dose of Argentinian history.

La Casa Rosada, Buenos Aires, Argentina

La Casa Rosada

The parks of La Recoleta

Beautiful, sprawling expanses of greenery that are seriously under-utilized for picnic lunches.

These lists don’t even begin to scratch the surface of things to do and see in Buenos Aires, but sadly, as with all good things, my travels had to come to an end.  My only hope is that I’ve started to convince you, regardless of your tastes in travel, that this people-pleaser of a city is definitely worth getting to know.

The colorful barrio of La Boca

I’m mentioning La Boca twice because, in my opinion, it is a must-see in Buenos Aires.  Visit La Boca for a daytime stroll, stop for a rest at one of the neighborhood restaurants and enjoy a tango show and a glass of wine, buy a few kitschy souvenirs for your friends back home, and marvel at the flamboyantly painted buildings and cobblestones of the famous El Caminito (the little path in Spanish).

The streets of La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The streets of La Boca

Pin It!What to do and see in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Have you been to Buenos Aires?  What are your favorite things to do there?

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8 Comments

  • Reply Buenos Aires – The Beautiful People | see something March 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    […] Buenos Aires: A City That Aims To Please (themochileradiaries.wordpress.com) […]

  • Reply Buenos Aires – The Beautiful People | see something March 20, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    […] Buenos Aires: A City That Aims To Please (themochileradiaries.wordpress.com) […]

  • Reply Kacy July 29, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    I was just in BsAs last week! I wish I would have read this post beforehand for the restaurant recommendations. The places we went were great but were missing that wow factor. I went everywhere you suggested except La Boca, so bummed we missed out on that! Great post!
    Kacy recently posted…Snapshot: Visiting Centro in RioMy Profile

  • Reply David September 6, 2015 at 6:58 am

    Thank you so much for the great post. It’s so informative, and affirms some of my own Buenos Aires highlights, as well as adding a few more, I just had to link to it from my post – http://www.travelho.com/my-buenos-aires-highlights/ It was the steakhouses that did it 🙂

    I hope that’s ok? Let me know if not.

    Keep up the good work 🙂
    David recently posted…My Own Personal Buenos Aires Highlights Could Be Yours TooMy Profile

    • Reply Leah Davis September 6, 2015 at 7:01 am

      Hi David! Of course that’s okay! Glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for reading. 🙂

  • Reply damir August 10, 2016 at 4:50 am

    Buenos AIres is such a lovely lovely city. I kinda hate the fact that Peru and Brasil get so much attention..and maybe Patagonia, but Buenes Aires, with all its lovely traditions hardly gets features at all. It deserves so much more! 🙂

    • Reply Leah Davis August 10, 2016 at 7:52 am

      I agree, Damir! BA is a very special place, indeed!

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