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By The Way
Detours with locals. Travel tips you can trust.
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Patrons enjoy breakfast at La Flor de Barracas.
Patrons enjoy breakfast at La Flor de Barracas.
CITY GUIDE

A local’s guide to Buenos Aires

Patrons enjoy breakfast at La Flor de Barracas.
Patrons enjoy breakfast at La Flor de Barracas.
  • By Abel Escudero Zadrayec
  • Photos by Erica Canepa
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In Buenos Aires, you can meet a stranger one day and be invited to their home for a brilliant barbecue the next. It’s this sort of explicit friendliness that defines a porteño — a person native to this port city. Tolerant, cosmopolitan and safe, Buenos Aires is considered a cultural magnet in Latin America, where people from all walks of life feel welcome and the streets buzz with a blend of languages. Take in some futbol (soccer), try your hand at the tango or dig into the best grilled meats on the planet, for less than 10 bucks. It’s all possible in this city on the water.

Meet Abel Escudero Zadrayec

After spending seven years in Buenos Aires in the '90s and early 2000s, Abel moved back in 2016. He’s proudly “bahiense” — that is, from Bahía Blanca, the home of former NBA star Manu Ginobili and Nobel Prize winner César Milstein. Abel loves fútbol, asado, IPAs and traveling.

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IN THE ACTION
San Telmo
San Telmo is historic, bohemian and funky. This neighborhood is the perfect option if you’re seeking nightlife with local color in an artistic and traditional port city. Notable bars, innovative restaurants, dance halls, eclectic museums and many more attractions make this area unique. Find this neighborhood.
LOW-KEY
Puerto Madero
Construction on Puerto Madero, built for the purpose of providing the city with a port to accommodate large cargo ships, was completed in 1897. But just 10 years later, those ships became even bigger, rendering the port useless. Fast forward to today, and the revamped Puerto Madero is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. There are dozens of top restaurants to choose from and numerous parks, museums and markets to explore. Find this neighborhood.
Neighborhoods

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Eat

BREAKFAST
La Flor de Barracas
Back in the day, rail workers used to head here to settle their differences in knife fights. It was known as La Puñalada, or “The Stabbing,” and it went on to become a neighborhood restaurant for the proletariat, which it remains today. Swing by for some great coffee and a medialuna, a sweet crescent roll.
BTW: If you overslept, don’t worry: The restaurant is also great for lunch and dinner — when you might be surprised by a tango show.
La Flor de Barracas, Suárez 2095. Buenos Aires, Argentina
BREAKFAST
Sántal Cafe
Start your day in a relaxed atmosphere with cool music and decorations, excellent service and plenty of food options. Order the No. 4 and enjoy scrambled eggs with bacon, homemade bread, granola, yogurt, orange juice and coffee or tea. And the best part? You can enjoy your meal on the patio.
BTW: This spot is only a couple of blocks from the busy Cabildo Avenue. Walk off your meal by exploring.
Sántal Cafe, Virrey del Pino 2235, Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina
LUNCH
El Chiribín
In the backyard of Puerto Madero, this joint stands out among several barbecue options in the area. It offers the best in Argentine meat, served with traditional sauces like chimichurri and salsa criolla.
BTW: Ask Henry or Seba to make you a choripán, an incredible grilled chorizo sausage sandwich. Trust me.
Parrilla El Chiribín, Av. Int. Hernan M. Giralt 80, Buenos Aires, Argentina
LUNCH
El Sanjuanino
Just-made empanadas are served up alongside northern regional plates like tamales and locro (stew) in this friendly, not-too-pricey restaurant located in the affluent Recoleta neighborhood. Eating here, according to a phrase written on the tablecloths, is a “cultural act.”
BTW: Make sure to order the torta rogel, a dessert made of crispy, thin pastry layers served with dulce de leche and topped with meringue.
El Sanjuanino, Posadas 1515. Buenos Aires, Argentina
DINNER
La Poesía
With so many dining options in San Telmo, this corner cafe isn’t really on the radar. With a literary theme — hence the name, “the poetry” — the decor honors “the good old days.” There’s an antique collection of bottles and cans, a portrait gallery of distinguished Argentine writers and an amazing wooden bar top. Oh, and the food is incredible.
BTW: Dig into la picada — finger food that includes different types of bread, cheeses and cold cuts like salami, mortadella, ham, pork sausage and more. Pair it all with a fine local Malbec. What a combination.
La Poesía, Chile 502. Buenos Aires, Argentina
DINNER
El Ferroviario
This former buffet for rail workers has been transformed into the ultimate Argentine parrilla (grill or steakhouse). A significantly sized portion of asado, meat roasted on a wood fire for hours, will be more than enough to make your day. Come with an empty stomach and order the provoleta (grilled provolone cheese) and chorizo.
BTW: Avoid weekends, as the restaurant is always completely full and doesn’t take reservations. Showing up before 8 p.m. or after 10:30 p.m. would be wise as well.
El Ferroviario, Reservistas Argentinos 219. Bueno Aires, Argentina
LATE-NIGHT
Doppelgänger Bar
“We all have two faces. Celebrate the worker and the bourgeois in you” is the motto of this outstanding bar in San Telmo, with dedicated personnel and an impressive and long cocktail menu. It’s closed Monday and Sunday, but features a late-night happy hour 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
BTW: The Old-Fashioned deserves a standing ovation. Complement it with salmon bruschetta (gravlax-style).
Av. Juan de Garay 500 esq. Bolivar, San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
LATE-NIGHT
Lo de Charly
Craving some meat at 4 in the morning? No problem. There’s a never-ending fire in this 24-hour charcoal parrilla in the Villa Urquiza neighborhood. It opened nearly 30 years ago to serve cabdrivers late at night and in the early morning, but today it features fast service and abundant, low-cost meals.
BTW: Ask the waiter for a recommendation.
Lo de Charly, Av. Álvarez Thomas 2101. Buenos Aires, Argentina
(Buenos Aires illustrator Caro Marando for The Washington Post)
LOCALS THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW
  1. Tips are usually at least 10 percent of the bill — and paid in cash.
  2. Uber is not legal yet in Buenos Aires, but it operates anyway. Sometimes cab drivers get mad about it, so be careful if you decide to use the app.
  3. It’s possible that you might come across a protest. Be aware that streets might be blocked as a result.
(Buenos Aires illustrator Caro Marando for The Washington Post)

Do

Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti
Take in an authentic futbol experience by heading to the home of Club Atlético River Plate. In 2018, the club became Copa Libertadores champions after taking down their longtime rivals. Tickets can be difficult to come by, especially for certain matches, but it’s worth a shot for a passionate local experience.
BTW: Make sure to swing by the River Plate Museum, too.
Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Av. Pres. Figueroa Alcorta 7597. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo’s racetrack
Opened in 1876, this 1.5-mile sand racecourse offers some of the best free horse-racing on the planet. But that’s not all: Visitors can also find casinos, restaurants, a craft beer pub, food trucks, festivals, live shows and more.
BTW: Just across the street is the Campo Argentino de Polo, a world-famous polo field.
Palermo’s racetrack, Av. del Libertador 4101. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Costanera Sur nature reserve
This area, now an ecological reserve, was an important part of the neighborhood’s southern waterfront in the early part of the 20th century. The city decided in 1986 to protect the area, which now boasts 850 beautiful acres of land for picnics, walks, cycling, guided tours, bird-watching and more.
BTW: After relaxing at the reserve, rent a bike at no charge. You only need to register beforehand. There are eight stations close to the reserve.
Costanera Sur nature reserve
Berlina Bunker
This huge pub in a converted warehouse in the San Telmo neighborhood has just about everything you could want: a skate park, an art gallery, table tennis, foosball, DJs spinning music, great burgers and, most important, 22 draft beers. Pints are $2 during happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., and you can dig into free peanuts.
BTW: Try the Fiel IPA, inspired by the brewmaster’s dog.
Berlina Bunker, Estados Unidos 352. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Bebop Club
In a basement in the historic Monserrat neighborhood you’ll find an intimate live-music venue with great acoustics. The Bebop Club features national and international talent, and everything from jazz and blues to funk and soul. A special menu is prepared by Aldo’s, a fantastic restaurant next door.
BTW: Order the cheese plate and some wine. It’s an unbeatable pair.
Moreno 364. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Salón Marabú
On Thursday nights, this old dance hall in the San Nicolás neighborhood offers milonga, a traditional tango experience with live music. The parlor has had to close a couple of times throughout the years; it was most recently reopened five years ago with help from the Argentine Tango Society.
BTW: The hall is open from 9 p.m. until 2:30 a.m. And, heads up, there’s a $3 cover.
Salón Marabú (Salon de Tango), Maipú, ACA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Abel Escudero Zadrayec
After spending seven years in Buenos Aires in the '90s and early 2000s, Abel moved back in 2016. He’s proudly “bahiense” — that is, from Bahía Blanca, the home of former NBA star Manu Ginobili and Nobel Prize winner César Milstein. Abel loves fútbol, asado, IPAs and traveling.
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Erica Canepa
Erica is a contributing photographer to The Washington Post based in Buenos Aires.
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ericacanepa

CITY GUIDES