Argentina’s hedonistic capital has been reinventing itself since the 19th century, blurring the distinctions between night and day, past and future, Europe and Latin America. The city has a buzz all of its own, derived from its heady juxtaposition of faded, dusty elegance and edgy, flash modernity. The city and its people keep on dressing up, staying out late and looking good.
Santiago del Estero 1435, Constitución, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4305 1701). Occupying a fabulously elegant 1920s building in rundown Constitución, you need to ring the bell at the unmarked door before you’re escorted into a brightly lit, high-ceilinged space with French windows. The usual suspects are all here – an onion soup laced with port and Gruyère, and duck marinated in orange, Cointreau and brown sugar. Open Tue-Sat.
Báez 199, Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4778 1900; www.bistronovecento.com). Argentinian-Med-Asian experiments in this perpetually popular corner venue.
Junin 548, Once, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4372 1146). Great, homey Korean food in the heart of the textilebarrio.
Uriarte 1658, Villa Crespo Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4833 1112; www.casa-cruz.com). German Martitegui’s locally inspired dishes include Tierra del Fuego king crab and black pudding with endives.
Chacarita, Buenos Aires: address provided upon booking (00 54 11 4555 1882; www.diegofelix.com).Puertas cerradas (unmarked bars and speakeasies) have become a regular feature in Buenos Aires’ nightlife, and now chefs are opening the doors to their own homes too. Casa Felix has a five-course pescetarian tasting menu laced with herbs and spices sourced by chef Diego Felix on his travels. Dinner is served for up to 12 guest three times a week.
Costa Rica 5644, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4776 7370). Pristine all-white hangout serving modern fusion cuisine.
El Salvador 4618, Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 8431 7176; www.cluny.com.ar). A great French/Mediterranean restaurant, bang in the centre of Palermo Soho, Cluny serves informal yet elegant food and is one of Palermo’s safest bets for lunch of dinner. Save room for the volcán de dulce de leche – a crisp, warm sponge loaded with sweet caramel. Open Mon-Sat.
Libertador 1902, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4806 8639). Opposite the National Museum of Decorative Art lies this charming garden café, one of the prettiest spots for lunch in the city. The menu features the odd obligatory beef or pasta dish, but the best bets here are the tarts, salads and sandwiches. Open Mon-Thu; Sat-Sun.
Guatemala 4691, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4831 9564). Beef remains the Argentine staple, but only a handful of the capital’s parrillas (grills) are as steadfastly reliable as Don Julio. It’s popular with locals and is bristling with attentive waiters. Cuts come thick and juicy, and the grill is open for public viewing.
Báez 196, Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4779 9060). Smart but cosy haven specialising in pasta.
Posadas 1515, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4804 2909: www.elsanjuanino.com). Acclaimed for itsempanadas, the local pies, as well as cured meats, stews and regional puddings.
Paraguay 5099, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4772 7343). Mid-market steakhouse offering great service, perfect steaks and offal.
Costa Rica 5802, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4775 7050; www.green-bamboo.com.ar). Dinner here feels like a night aboard a Vietnamese junk cluttered with lanterns, nodding cats, Chinese dolls and oriental artworks. It is one of the funkiest places in the neighbourhood to eat, with some of the city’s finest cocktails and a fine selection of homespun Vietnamese dishes.
Cabrera 5296, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4777 3711). La Cupertina is a delightful ode to the best of northern Argentina’s cuisine. Owner Cecilia Hermann has produced a mouthwatering menu of stews, tarts and expertly crafted empanadas. Low-key and rustic in style, the restaurant is filled with young locals, families and occasional tourists. Open Tue-Sat.
Humboldt 1911, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4773 0070). Families rub elbows with local TV stars at snug but stylish steakhouse La Dorita. Favourites are the three-meat tabla de carnes and grilled provoleta cheese.
LA VIEJA ROTISERIA
Defensa 963, San Telmo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4362 5660). Ultra-cheap, wonderfully friendly steakhouse on San Telmo’s antique-shop street.
Gorriti 5870, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4776 7677). Light, bright chalet serving northern European and Scandinavian dishes.
Soler 5608, Palermo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4775 6964; www.osaka.com.pe). With its delicious Peruvian-Japanese fusion menu, Osaka is the city’s most fashionable place to eat, frequented by just about every star in the city. Order a couple of plates of salmon tiraditos: fresh sashimi flecked with passion-fruit honey and finely chopped watercress. The waiting list can run to around three weeks, so book before you go. Open Mon-Sat.
Nicaragua 6068, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4778 9614). Hidden away on a cobbled, tree-lined street in the far reaches of Palermo Hollywood, this is the coolest café in town. It is hugely popular, so you may have to wait for a table, but there are few better places to sit and watch the world go by. Open Tue-Sun.
Beruti 2602, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4821 3741; www.oviedoresto.com.ar). One of Buenos Aires’ most impressive restaurants, Oviedo is eternally reliable and absolutely divine. The restaurant takes a fresh fish delivery twice a day, and chef Martin Rebaudino’s résumé includes time at El Bulli.
Lerma 525, Villa Crespo, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4772 1936; www.thymusretaurant.co.ar). One of Buenos Aires’ most noteworthy restaurants, Thymus is located away from the bedlam of nearby Palermo, but still draws a steady flow of foodies, local and foreign. The crème brûlée of Taleggio and roasted bell peppers is out of this world. Open Mon-Sat.
Vicente López 1661, Pasaje del Correo, Recoleta, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4813 5900;www.siroprestaurant.com). Located in a pretty, Parisian-style galleria in Recoleta, Sirop is a grown-up restaurant for politicians and A-listers of the Eva Perón era. It is unrivalled for service and turns out some fabulous French/international food, too.
Báez 246, Las Cañitas, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4778 3115). Pioneer of fashionable eating, Soul Café still draws the young hipsters and cocktail-seekers.
Guatemala 5602, Palermo Hollywood, Buenos Aires (00 54 11 4776 3777). Delicate bites from South-East Asia.